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Haiku Exile For Richard Wright (1908-1960)

James Finnegan


Just enough of snow

For a boy’s finger to write

His name on the porch.


How to write, to own

one’s name in a white world?

Bashō, Busson and Issa, save him.

He is fed up with racism, sick

and tired, sick to the point of death

with amoebic dysentery.

Like the Magi, come to his door,

to a poor farmhouse he’s bought

in the French countryside. Nature abounds

around him, yet it closes in around him.

He is fed up with his mail being read,

with the HUAC show trials.

Bashō, Busson and Issa, watch over him, Richard Wright is lost in France,

financial circumstances forcing him

to sell the farmhouse, to move

his family to an apartment in Paris, driven

by paranoia perhaps. Because of his politics

they’re spying on him. Paranoia

in Paris is nothing new, harbor of exiles,

haven for lost artists. Then home calls,

a telegram: Mother is dead. Stop.

Somehow a whole novel

awaits one in any small ambit of words.

Bashō, Busson and Issa, give him

a way to live out his last days.


A man leaves his house

And walks around his winter fields

And then goes back in.

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