The Last Poem, At This Table

The last poem
at this table …

Twelve years ago …
this boy was two
and we
moved out
on old
land, close to
Berrytown –

Let us pray …

I sip this coffee
for the last time
rubbing tired hands
nursing a weary mind
looking into a future
out this back window
for the last time.
This place, where
I sat, wrapping boot
laces, worn down,
exhausted but,

to be laboring,
in tradition,
proud to be
taking care of

& now, careful to
not boast that I
am escaping the

& like a field
slave, who knew
how to look to the

stars, could
read the code –
I break into the
masters house,
to take my woman
and son, away.

Yet, I wanted to
work here,
build dreams –

& soul



& this place,
fell apart, of
over a decade
not being
able to be here.

I could tell stories
of many a lashing –
isolated lonesome
feelings of being
used –
watching my

so, what I am
doing –
at this table –
this morning –
is loading up
& taking
all i worked
for, to the
promised land.

The master is
& he will wake
up to find
my wife and

& yes, i had to
her …

she listened to
the other house
slaves who told
of wild men and
woman, planning
an insurrection.
Told, “don’t go –
we have it so
good here.”

(and she,
is the wild one ???
Born of native
blood and spirited
like a wild horse
that has been
tamed by
the deep
of mothering.)

I, have been called
crazy before …
branded a
traitor …

the language
of the soil …
became fluent
playing and listening
to the drums speak
when the master
was not looking.
Secretly seeking
council with
some who
had tried to
leave before
and were to
old to escape
but had
a clear
picture of
where to
& now, i say
my peace, to
those afraid
to go!
My heart
will always
be with
them …
my work
is to eventually

set them free …

peace be with you …

John Paul

Sunday, July 23rd 2017

Middletown, Kentucky



I Got My Learnin’ From the L&N – The Best Of JP

This new release is compiling over 12 years of original songwriting that was created while I was employed on the CSX railroad as a conductor and then as a locomotive engineer. Most of the tunes on this collection started out as ideas that were transferred to the blank sides of paper work as I drove a train from Louisville to Nashville.

Railroading can be a poetically romantic job

and is truly an American experience. Writers, poets, reporters and songwriters use the rich metaphors of “the railroad” quite often. I had a wonderful career!  During my long days and lonesome nights, rolling straight down the center of Kentucky, I met some of the most wonderfully resiliant folks!

One of the first questions you get asked when get “hired on” at the railroad is

“What did you do before ya come out here?”

This question for me, was sort of difficult to answer. Well …. I was an Artistic Director of a Christian Arts organization slash Dishwasher slash African Djembe player slash community organizer. I brought all those experiences and more to a new job. Not only was this a job, I was being introduced to a way of life and

a culture that has its own music, language, history and long held traditions.

I like to say that If Americana was a quilt, then railroad themed music is the thread. The word “qwirk” is an old term used to describe a person’s unique stitch in a quilt. So trust me “the railroad” has its quirks about it.

The tunes are mostly in the folk music style of G,C and D. “I throw in an F to impress the girls,” I believe Hank Williams Sr. said that. My father Joe Wright suggests that Jimmie Rodgers tunes are supposed to be played in C, so… strum accordingly.

I wanted to throw a few tunes out there and tell the stories behind them. Please check out the tunes below individually on Bandcamp for desciptions and photos. Folk musicians are somewhat part reporter, part historian and part folklorist. That is what I love about folk music! There are big stories behind the tunes and the stories are important.
If you would like a hard copy of this CD please send 12 dollars via Paypal to

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Thanks Y’all and have a goodin’


A Picture of Henry David Thoreau

A Picture of Henry David Thoreau


Louisville, Kentucky


Sitting under the glare of

Hunter S Thompson –

at the concreate table

outside of the coffee house

my Mother loved, next

to the bookstore she

used to drag us kids

into, years ago –

the carpenter bees visit

the passion flowers as

I fall into a well of

thought. Just one opening

of the door, and an

image – A book

stares at me, and

the bearded David

is sitting on the

display table – and over

on a different shelf

almost all of Wendell

Berry’s works are hand

signed – no mark up

applied to the printed

price – a massive cloud

just above, orange hue

silver linings – my friends

the mockingbirds are

singing – little chirping birds –

talking, talking, talking –

but those bees! They root

through over grown

vines to find a spectacle

of a flower.

I miss my friend John Hagan –

we used to sit at

this table – minds

wandering, words flowing

alive with conversation –

I feel him now. I

can still see him

walking down the street –

his glide, hop of innocent

happiness, his loving smile

greeting on arrival.

The smell of food, spices

and flowers fill the

light breeze as my

gaze goes looking up

to that cloud – I think

funny honest thoughts.

What if Thoreau was


That story he wrote would

have been quite different!

What if the Dali Llama

had a teenager, rebelling

just to rebel. What were

those conversations

we used to have here

all about? I, like Rumi

long for my friend!

The Friend!

It is easy to write

poetry if your intended

audience is God!

These words may or

may not matter!

That cloud is gone

just like the memory of

many nights, walking

these streets, on this

road – years ago –

ecstatically manic and

following the thoughts

and words of Bawa, my

Sufi teacher! It is easy to

write if your mentor

gives you a job, and then

the next thing you know

you have half the

shelf dedicated to

bringing to life

the words of a whirling

dervish. As the sun sets

on Hunter, his memory

as large as a building – this

paper is coming to an

end – My honesty

takes over and my

pen could say what is

really on my mind!

But the the feller at the

bookstore just walked

by carrying garbage to

the dumpster – so I

won’t get mad and

let this pen write that

I don’t know why I think

I should keep going.

Maybe, I should keep

my inspiration quiet?

Keep it to myself.

I am waiting for a sign-

but all I seem to

get is another sun set.

Another cup of coffee –

another worried mind,

another mindful thought

before I go – this paper

is almost gone –

I was asked once why

I decided to write

this poetry …

My answer was, “I don’t

know.” I told Wendell

once that I had not read

all his works. He said, “You

don’t have to!”


John Paul


A few days at the lake

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Reading Rails
Reading Rails
By John Paul Wright
Photo book


A few days at the lake

Breckinridge County, Kentucky

Rough River Lake


06-28-2017 A.M.

Wasted energy &

wasted time. This place

three miles back a county

road. Calamese Creek –

Breckinridge County.


Each lot for sale;

like this land is your land,

this land is my land –

to the dam line, to the gravel

road – to do whatever the hell

I please.


On the weekend – on holidays,

some come to escape the

humdrum of the city.

Some, to replicate the city.

The Amish and Mennonites farm the fields.

The “campers” from the towns come

burning fuels, stocked bass boats

and mobile homes, pouring

thousands into American Dreams –

and bored with their surroundings

coexist, with the Indian mom and pops.

Shop at the Dollar General.


A few “locals” sit at a hot spot

watching T.V broadcasting

from Jefferson’s County, Kentucky

and no wonder Meriwether Lewis

shot himself outside of Nashville,



Do you know that history?

When President Jefferson in

an Undaunted Courage sent

York, Rodgers and Sacagawea

across the unknown, soon to be

stolen land, only to have Leland

Stanford, finally finish the deed.

Gold, driven into a steel road –

connecting east to west. And

John Henry died for our sins!

Custer was not a friend.

The Ghost Dances around this

pen like a children’s round –

ring around the Rosie

we are all going to die!


I sit silent in this spot

listening to the locals’ moan of

how everything they love, is on loan

and how the Indian folks are not

welcome. So, the Americans seek jobs

and sink their money into the Dollar General.

Never asking the Indians where they



Never talking to the Indian’s kid

who goes to school at Breckinridge County

high, middle or low. And on the outskirts

a mom and pop has become a Motorcycle

Club. Charlie has made it

here and now they can sell beer and

whine about heroin, waving flags

while we are still at war in



The people at the spot

watch as a black kid was shot

far away in Louisville.

The news locality and reality

not known to the consumers

of this media they ask,

“what did he do?”

He should have not run when

the police said, “stop!”

or “I’ll shoot.” Like this is

the American West and we are

in a duel. High noon, and they

are the news sheriff in town.

Hopped up on a Facebook rant,

a public stance.


The nice lady takes my check –

I pay the bill and she looks at

me funny when I suggest that

they should burn the Dollar General

down! The Wal-Mart in Leitchfield,

20 miles away, knows that they are

“at risk” of losing control of

the market as outposts of another

bank, set up shop in neighboring

small towns. Their patrons trickle down

to a crawl. The mighty Dollar General,

has them surrounded!


And remember, this is the Fourth of

July weekend, we make it or break it –

if, Mother Nature, “cooperates!”

These few days the city folks,

like the church goers on Easter,

many will not return next week,

or the week after that.

The motorcycle club will remain –

the money syphoned off and

the children sent away to fight

for this way of life. A small tank

of gas for that bass boat.

The Corpse of Engineers told us

this place would redeem our souls and

fill our pocket books.


Outside a Mennonite sells his goods,

his children pulling the load

on a bike, his wife waving a basket

from wood reaped from a fallen barn.

Crosses on the roadside symbolize the

fallen savior. An American flag

waves – Chinese fireworks are sold for

pennies on the dollar.


A confederate flag on a truck,

menacing history of states’ rights –

plantation slaves, but, what about

those “foreigners?” The Indian

family venture that bought that

bankrupt gas station. Where do

they spend their money?


What about the Amish? Do they

pay their debts to a society that

they are escaping from?

May the farce be with you!

Happy Fourth of July.

Can we talk revolution?


06-28-2017 P.M.


My boy sits glued to an epic

journey. The little people, slay

a dragon. I am alone, down the

hill reciting poetry to

the woods. A deer quietly on

the path, like a child sneaking

something, slips into the forest.

Like this, this time, relative to

this moment. Stories of old

and words from a heart, old,

perspectives known and teachers

of conscience in kind.


I have gone into the soul

in search of big words to

describe methods – I have none!

My tongue and fingers only

mimicking what my ears and

eyes have found.


The forceful beatings of

my heart cannot be extracted!

Language is bound by time –

from where this body gets it’s

electricity, is not known to me and

faith is my favorite conversation!

My son’s movie ends with the words,

“what have we done?” As the mythical

dragon flies away into a darkness.


I ask of you dear reader …

What makes you tick?

Wakes you, sweating?

Causes you to love?

What is the matter that is

so far reaching, expanding –

our minds, can never



06-29-2017 A.M


Waiting, this next chapter starts

with you. Like union!

This boy will one day be gone.

We will be worried …

Like when before he was born,

and we did not seek to know who

was arriving. Naturally patient


When I whispered into your ear,

“Jonah is here,” and in the name of God

the most merciful and most compassionate.

We named our son after a Prophet,

who was used to teach judgement / anger.

Many times, we have been swallowed

by a whale! Judged and be judged –

spit out. Our family difficulties, trust –

I sharpen a new pencil,

the old one,

worn away.

This one, has a brand-new erasure!

Our old life can be edited, memories

drawn upon, we can move from there

to where we want to go!

Like birth includes death!

Like work includes thirst and rest.


Thinking in stories


A friend suggested that I am the

way that I am …

because I think in stories.

A narrative, who am I?

Once upon a time – whee go …

word association.

Family – Tree

Brother – Sister

Mother – Father

Beginning – End

I suggest, peeling an onion to

find layer after story, like water

ripples, the little waves

disperse in all directions.

The rock falls through

stratification. Light reflected

from the splash, a rainbow –

a miracle of light and sound.

One second, one instant –

gone – silence.


06-29-2017 P.M.


It is time –

I, has lost!

To be of service!

A Father – husband

partner – sometimes

like watching a child

fail, not knowing what

to say – offering a strong

hug – just a look –

glance – a heartfelt tear.

I feel it – with you!

These words, like a mirror.

I am just a man of few words –

a man burning away!

It is time

to stop –

support –



cry no more –

I love









06-30-2017 6:30 A.M


Jonah, M’boy – sleeping in

a tent, my 47-year-old bones

walk up the hill to coffee

and this pencil.


I am doing this to get back

years lost – no one seems to

understand me when I tell



I worked for the railroad.


I quit with Joe Watson on my

mind, he retired on Tuesday

and died in his sleep on Thursday.

Never saw a retirement check!


There were many like him.

So, for this week – I play catch up.

I missed a many family weekend,

many a precious moment.

You do the math –


70 hours a week, 12 hours down

and 12 hours back, 10 hours goes by,

and your back on the rail, again.


At Liberty to:

At Liberty to:
Be a friend.
Per, suits of armor.
I am just a child
in the employment
of a common
Holding accountable
stars as reflections!
Mine eyes?
Glory is only a dream –
only a dream, my son.
The callous is proof
of hard labor.
The mind, weary
I am lost – but fit
for duty.
So, wake!

All this – is not a

It’s the
rolling of dice …
wind blowing
stories across the
pines, the howling
of the branches.
Wake, everything is
& nothing is, in waiting.
My kisses to your cheek,
my Son, are
rapture enough for me.
Your growing is a miracle!
Your love and the love of.
I said, wake son,
your love is the liberty
I am after.


Here is where I am at.

My debts are all paid.



a new day.

My mind,

sharp as a tack.

Pining for the new.

Patience so true.

A slight wind to my back.

Gracefully waiting.


Called to do.

The past,

all out of whack.

At peace, in love –

all the while,


This drive unselfish –

for service, resolute.


To be there!

Bliss is not

easy to follow.

Trust &


Settling for the now.


Making contract

with destiny –

set in stone



my desperate

soul fire

passion and


For me, poetry is the way out of the deep dark places that sometimes –

engulfs my daily life. 

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