Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet and professor David Wright. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of David and each other, and write your own poems along the way.
Kansas (Little Fugue)
The small gatherings of lights
give a sense of purpose
on the dark road. You’ve found
a road that seems right, with no map.
Give a sense of purpose
and a body will follow
a road that seems right. With no map
the names of places escape you.
And your body will follow
the hum of a rhythm you recall.
The names of places escape you
like the lyrics of old folk tunes.
The hum of a rhythm you recall,
the small gatherings of lights,
the lyrics of old folk tunes
on the dark road you’ve found.
1. Wikipedia notes, “In music, a fugue is a contrapuntal compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject (theme) that is introduced at the beginning in imitation (repetition at different pitches) and recurs frequently in the course of the composition.” In what way is this poem like a fugue? If you are familiar with fugues, do you get a similar feeling from this poem as you do listening to a fugue?
2. The poem seems to promise a sense of purpose. What purpose do you feel, if any, as a result of reading the poem?
3. Small gatherings of lights confront a driver on a lonely road. Have you ever had that experience? Was it a comfort or an interruption?