Poems - Bio
week after your father left
you still carried his note in your wallet,
and on the night before the bank
said they’d come for
we were on our way to St. Louis ,
our last dime in the gas tank, and you
every way you could find
the family sedan,
pounding the dash for the radio it lacked,
shifting without the clutch
and wringing from its feeble six
stinking, oil-ridden mile per hour.
Down the long hill past the Catholic cemetery,
under the dead
and into the bottom lands we rolled.
You spoke of jobs you might have soon
at this or that plant
smoked my cigarettes, thought
you’d save up for a car and a tattoo.
Through the banks
the swampland haze, great flames rose
above the foundries and steel mills,
and there was nothing
so bright. It was Saturday night,
and you would never go back, not ever.
We found our way
to Gaslight Square
and drove slowly down its streets.
You refused to acknowledge the sidewalk crowds,
the soul and blues,
the smack jazz
seething from the nightclubs.
At the last bright reaches we were stalled
by traffic, and a
whore in hot pants
called from a Laundromat doorway. Sugar,
she sang, and came outward. She walked
to your window,
leaned her breasts on your arm
and grinned, and you turned and spat in her face.
What you could not accomplish that night
a handful of outraged,
high-heeled prostitutes could.
They kicked at our fenders, spit
with amazing accuracy through our windows.
And with what you
claimed to have seen and known
as a blackjack, one leering redhead
bashed in the windshield, turning all
its clear expanse to a
of safety glass, before the traffic opened
and we were on our way half blind
into the diesel scented night.
that have been what we were after,
that joy, those riches
reeling from destruction?
Ten blocks farther on we stopped
and forced the whole window out, down
onto the dash and floor
and front seat,
then drove home with the summer highway
wind in our faces, laughing,
sitting in a gravel of glass
flashed under streetlights,
in the full of the moon, like a carload of diamonds.
Poems - Bio
Wrigley was born February 27, 1951, in East St. Louis, Illinois, Illinois, and grew up in Collinsville,
a coal mining town. He received his B.A. (with honors) in English Language & Literature at Southern Illinois
University in 1974, and his M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Montana in 1976, where he studied with Madeline DeFrees, John Haines, and Richard Hugo.
His collections of poetry
include Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems (Penguin, 2006); Lives of the Animals (2003); Reign of Snakes
(1999), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award; In the Bank of Beautiful Sins (1995), winner of the San Francisco Poetry
Center Book Award and Lenore Marshall Award finalist; What My Father Believed (1991); Moon in a Mason Jar (1986);
and The Sinking of Clay City (1979).
work has also been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Wrigley's awards and honors include
fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim
Foundation, as well as the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine,
the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and two Pushcart
Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.