When You’re Lost in Juarez, in the Rain, and It’s Eastertime Too
by Charles Wright

Like a grain of sand added to time,
Like an inch of air added to space,
or a half-inch,
We scribble our little sentences.
Some of them sound okay and some of them sound not so okay.

A grain and an inch, a grain and an inch and a half.

Sad word wands, desperate alphabet.
Still, there’s been no alternative
Since language fell from the sky.
Though mystics have always said that communication is
And maybe they’re right
the soul speaks and the soul receives.
Small room for rebuttal there.

Over the Blue Ridge, late March late light annunciatory
and visitational.

Tonight the comet Hale-Bopp
will ghost up on the dark page of the sky
By its secret juice and design from the full moon’s heat.

Tonight some miracle will happen,
it always does.
Good Friday’s a hard rain that won’t fall.
Wild onion and clump grass, green on green.

Our mouths are incapable, white violets cover the earth.

SOURCE: “When You’re Lost in Juarez…” appears in Charles Wright’s collection Appalachia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), available at

LISTEN: Hear Charles Wright read the poem at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Charles Wright began to read and write poetry while stationed in Italy during his four years of service in the U.S. Army, and published his first collection of poems, The Grave of the Right Hand (Wesleyan University Press), in 1970. His second and third collections, Hard Freight (1973) and Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1983), were both nominated for National Book Awards; the latter received the prize. Since then, Wright has published numerous collections of poems, most recently Outtakes (Sarabande, 2010); Sestets: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009); Littlefoot: A Poem (2008); Scar Tissue (2007), the international winner for the Griffin Poetry Prize; The Wrong End of the Rainbow (Sarabande, 2005); Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004); Negative Blue (2000); Appalachia (1998); Black Zodiac (1997), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Chickamauga (1995), awarded the 1996 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 (1990); and Zone Journals (1988). His many honors include the 2013 Bollingen Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1999 he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He is Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Author photo by Yusef El-Amin

Note: The title of the poem is taken from a line from Bob Dylan‘s song “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues.”