William Winfield Wright

Two poems from William Winfield Wright’s Birds Vs Cosmonauts
followed by a note on the author



There’s always one guy
who runs out front, sprinting
even when there are miles to go,
flat out as if the first curve
were his perfect destination,
well in the lead should the world
end now before we finish.
Everyone passes him by
the halfway point
while he pants and stumbles
and then holds his side,
but before that inevitability
and for as long as he goes,
it’s just the air in his lungs
and all around him.

“Rabbits are more amenable.
That’s why they go into the hat,”
the magician tells me.
“Pigeons you keep in the refrigerator
to get them to cooperate,
and they make a big mess.
I do mostly schools now
so the kids can play with them
and ask about the tricks,
and there’s that perfect moment
when what wasn’t there is there
waiting to be picked up
by the soft scruff of its neck.
I know how it works
and it still surprises me.”

It’s not a contest, sex,
and we don’t keep count.
Fixed and old, we’re nothing like bunnies,
clumsy and determined, we’re no tortoise either,
but we run this impossible race
knowing we’ll get lapped,
stopping in the places that look comfortable,
stringing together our series of sprints,
slow maybe now but still not steady.


If Explanations Were Made of Porcelain

We have a lot to thank gravity for.
There’s the atmosphere and its air,

this sticky planet full of promises,
pressures we can give, pressures we can receive,

and even when everything floated,
we were always safely tethered

to this blue ball, this same place.
So when something falls, something we thought

had wings or rested safely on a table
it can break.

Dead people go back to stars.
Dogs reincarnate even if

we ourselves are a one off.
The wine glass is now glitter,

the cell phone a paperweight or found art.
It hurts when something smashes

into pieces. When idea or understanding lies
scattered and needs

to be swept up from the kitchen floor.


William Winfield Wright is Fulbright Scholar, Fishtrap Fellow, and professor of English at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. He was born in Fresno, California in 1960 and received a BA from Linfield College, an MA from the University of New Hampshire, and a PhD from the University of Arizona. He has published widely, including the chapbook Cosmonauts (2012), and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured on Poetry Daily.