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Michael Lauchlan

Letter to James Wright
After Reading the Last of His Poems

Steel Mill by Joseph Stella

The world you knew well,
its mills and bars and tender ponies,
has buffed and digitized its loneliness.
You might feel at home watching
my town perform its own lurid
February. In the icy slop
of streets behind a truck yard,
dawn strips all dignity from night
and the dark continues its work
by means more shrill, while
hunger reveals itself as the bastard
we’d always imagined. Soot
descends through our mornings
to coat throats, to make our steps
weary and youth short. Our jobs
still carve themselves into us,
year by day, until little remains,
yet what you named holy still
curls into our hearts, breathes
in our ears, and sheds its mute love.


About the writer:
Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave. (WSU Press).

Image: Steel Mill by Joseph Stella (1877-1946). Gouache on paper mounted on paperboard. 17.6 x 12.3 inches. Circa 1919/1920. Public domain.

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