Franz Wright The Beforelife  
    when you see fame coming run

I owe you so much--
I owe you my life.
I would have killed myself
five different times, had it
not been for the thought of
your intense secret pleasure
while you wept at my grave.

I would go hiddenly,
write in rage: when she smiles
she looks just like a knife blade--
know what I mean.
In my mind, I was already dead; now

I am alive again
and it is you
who're deceased, despite appearances
and I like this
so much better.

To tell you the truth.

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    Excerpted from The Beforelife by Franz Wright. Copyright © 2000 by Franz Wright. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.