An Electronic Journal of Poetry & Poetics
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ISSN 1081-3500 | Copyright © Mudlark 1998
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Mudlark No. 10 (1998)
Diane Wald | Improvisations
on Titles of Works by Jean Dubuffet
Man Wedged into Walls
He has seen something we have not seen. His
method is different: insert the head into the desired knowledge. Wait to
Half-length Personage: Nose Wrinkler
Physical reasons for emotional
characteristics. Small personages especially: worried about every single
click of the world spinning past GO. Also worried about bathing
suits, disdainful of flowers.
Woman Pinning Up Her Hair
Yes but it's not the desired solution. A
spider on the mirror, lowering itself from the round white overhead lamp.
No commas between dark hair curls, no commas.
Thickly Painted Garden
And well done. Conceive of the peonies in
F's yard, mostly the fuschia shade of green. Scattered amidst the
somewhat gravel and loam, the sweet alyssum. R goes there, having never
met her. Takes with her J, perhaps, happier lately than he's been.
Head of a Worthy Man
Don't kid yourself. Worthy nothing.
As if a flat mosquito flying directly toward your face backed by a sunset
flame wouldn't sting you.
Woman Sitting in Front of Shutters
As it begins to get light in June off a
corner of the light. Vireos? Vireos. And also without doubt the
honeysuckle. No window to dress the shutters, no summer dream.
Not exactly a heron; perhaps a garza. White
in yellow ankle boots. Psychological sand in his shoes. When C called me
to come and observe him, he was skipping rope with seaweed. The cold
cappuccino tastes better. A squirrel has gnawed a hole in the light.
Wall with Inscriptions
Perhaps the answer will be here: why I keep
thinking about you. Walking along the rock rubble sand on the way to the
poison ivy beach. Over by the swampland, three boulders. Three very
Cyclist in the Fields
It would be easy for us to ignore him, to
skirt the cornfields around him, to fly over him as the geese do, to act
as if he were silly as lint. Yet there he is freely, as a book does.
Blue and Red Cow
Soon there was no reason to hold grief in a
handkerchief like an egg, the rock-quartz white egg you found on the
beach, and soon there was no reason to find on the beach. You. Green cow,
Large Coaly Nude
Finding the last number of lost numbers and
a white singe. Edges of the ironing board. I did, I do, I shall, I
am. Look in the mirror to find I am smaller.
I don't like your wisdom or your
chattering. I have not reached out for you. The dog on the beach was
nude, the gulls nude, the garzas. Or they don't have those here, but I
love them, like you.
Ice bucket, who knows, where's the ice, who
needs it, ro-say wine, bottle too large, nobody drinks it.
Terracotta Big Lips
Pick up the turtle that's trying to cross
the highway, and turn it around. Nothing more we can do. Every time we
pass the body of a small dead animal on the road, I say in my heart-head
"sorry" to offer it some kind of comfort.
Oh yes I've seen him waving his hands
around. He's the very same one I think who told M her job was over, not
over but taken over by another. I wrote him a speech once, which he never
Lady Strolling with Umbrella
And strolling, as they say, is the
operative word. There she goes down the main street in the sun with the
rain falling everywhere but on her. Remembering old movies. Thinking of
fringes. Remembering how she'd admonished someone to go easy on the use
of the letters i-n-g.
Horribly sloppy job, the kind I've always
done sometimes. When he is nervous he makes too many jokes. "Have you
seen the happy faces in here on the wall?" he asks her. She says "oh no,"
and feels very anxious.
The Traveler Gone Astray
This is the saddest part. He was on his way
to a new straw life. "This is the day tomorrow" and "Tomorrow is
certainly the day" were still on his lips. He felt, indeed, like a loner
bright mallard. Rainwater collected on the brim of his hat until it could
hold no more, then fell into his lap with a splatter.
The cool sweetness of the blue bar of soap.
Aquamarine, really. And she was pleased with the crowd's reaction to her
solo, pleased although they didn't understand everything: how could they?
The clouds lifted slightly, an alabaster sky.
Landscape with Moon and Bird
This is the one everyone likes, for the
wrong reasons. The bird is not simply a bird, but two swans with six
cygnets who swim like a family of altars in front of our windows. Here it
is not here, not now, but all their doing.
Four Gentlemen in a Car
Well it was all easy enough for them. First
a fine dinner with perhaps oysters, no one having a problem with that end
of the food chain, and then a trip no possibly a dash around the park in
a rented white car. Toyota? No. Something snazzy like a Lincoln.
They Hold Council
They do and they scare me to death. And the
airplane fell down between the convent and the third grade school
classroom and the children prayed the rosary but the pilot was dead. Who
cared? Everyone. Little T found the pilot's burned tie.
Two Arabs Gesticulating
All they wanted was the certain kind of
zinnia that grows near the Sphinx. They were gravely misinterpreted. The
whole thing led to an enormous bloody war and all for a flower.
Arab with Rose
Rose was her name but her mother made her
change it at birth.
Musicians in the Desert
In the holy afternoon we discussed not
liking the flute, not just in Beethoven, but in anything. The viola, the
violin, and especially the cello or violoncello or viola-cellophane
another story. There in the moonlight, just as you suspected, the desert
breaks into its concerts of bloom. Cacti. Small owls. Shooting-star hoya.
Just as you suspected.
Two Camels with Packsaddles
Wouldn't they rather be free! Two camels
with backpaddles. Two camel backstrokes through breaking waves of sand.
Honor their fine thick toes, the wide caves of their eyes, their linen
lips, their ochre chalk smiles.
Grotesque Purplish Landscape
It looked like a landscape, but there were
no trees--her cheeks' expression. I admired her earrings, heard in return
the story of their gifting, but then in the end there was nothing but one
color between us, and it was not my favorite shade.
The Farewell at the Window
This is not the final farewell; there will
not be one. The woman picks up stones on the beach and paves them along
the windowsill. The man can tell thereby she is angry and yet he feels
superior for this hurt. They will say hello again but slowly.
The Bear Cub (Lady's Body)
The Bare Club Lady's Body. The Bear-Cub
Lady's Body. The bladey ladey. The cubby boddy. Baby cub baby. Bare up
the bear. Club the lady.
The Man with the Blue Hat
I don't wish I had known him better when I
was young; we were acquainted, it's true, but not well. This man,
silently called "Q," was a friend of a friend of my father's, a man who
raised trout. The blue hat, cornflower blue. The trout, rainbow. I sat in
what he gave me: a raving green car.
Head with Blisters
Indeed an unfortunate cross to bear, to
bear blisters. Even if only from staying in sun too long. I found a red
blister on the floor of my room just yesterday, and couldn't decide who
might have dropped it. I have it still, a small red plasticky petal, the
size of a toenail.
Up against you, doesn't it. Lying there
doesn't help, the backache (bach-ake) with music doesn't let up, time
presses and he presses time. There is no help for it, only silence. Rake
through the water with a wooden rake solely for the pleasure of its
Botany and Geography (Lady's Body)
I don't know if he should bring more
flowers. They always seem to come when there is very little hope for both
of them. They arrange themselves in judgmental clusters.
Lady's Body Gaudy Bunch of Flowers
Gaudi's Barcelona, where we may be going.
Landscape with Troubled Sky, Swan Flying Overhead
This is exactly the one; how did you know?
The rain makes the inlet rise higher and higher. Swans here yesterday
cannot decide. One, large as a Great Dane, forced me back into the cabin,
where I sat down to regard his gorgeousness from the screened-in porch.
Forgot to mention the swan's two feet, as
huge as luncheon platters.
Table with Leaning Bottle
You can't presume to wait for an
understanding. You would wait, but you would not be satisfied, or those
who waited with you would not be either. Just one jostle by your elbow
and the bottle would roll down.
Landscape of the Formless
Ah, with the storm promising to dissipate,
with the gulls suggesting they head away from the rain, with
breakfast digesting sesame seeds and coffee, with the dream you forced
upon me and the dream I refused to tell. But it was all rather worthless.
Don't want to talk about it.
Ecstasy in the Sky
Can't remember. Must have been sleeping
Landscape with Dead Dog
World's saddest sauerkraut. No one would
believe how long we stopped there, how long the sound of her last breath
reverberated. No one knows it then or will know it now.
The Woman of Fashion
A scrambled-egg hat, six feathers from six
swans, molted naturally, of course--in fact feathers hard to come by. She
walked down into the pachysandra garden and there were geese there,
plenty of Canada and blue geese, but no swans.
Landscape with Auto
1958 lavender Dodge hard-top convertible,
white roof, pale turquoise stripe. 1958 farmland glory: two steeples,
stand of thick linden, woodpecker, hound dog, mouse. Sun setting over and
over again, then rising.
The Banished King
Well it was sad because we frankly always
liked his glory. Word had it he was not like the other kings--kind to his
spouse, his jewels, his horses. We liked him and we sent him away.
Disorder on the Table
This can be the worst, and then again an
entertainment. I think of our plastic-tablecloth-covered cherrywood
dining table and the fabulous clutter upon it. Topped by a Chinese vase
filled with flowers of the colors of the vase. Topped by a Chinese glory,
like the poor banished king.
Strolling Woman in a Red Hat
And like the Lady Strolling with
Umbrella, she is remembering old movies, thinking of fringes. In
truth she has been my favorite all along. Under that red hat a woman I
long to know better.
The Busy Life
"I don't want to come back to you, really.
I'm too busy, really. You don't want to come back to me either. Really.
It's not just such a busy life but a grand one and I'm busy and grand on
my own." Overheard. Underheard. Herd.
Red Hat, Eyes Lowered
My friend the Strolling Woman in a
Red Hat is back and O I am so happy to see her! Her eyes are
lowered not because she is unfriendly, but because she is trying very
hard to remember her dream, the one in which the person named R was
reciting something lovely he'd memorized, and just at this moment she
would prefer not to make contact with you, thank you.
Personage in Butterfly Wings
Probably these will never work for flying,
but they're very attractive, if heavy. And on a windy day it would really
be something, and on a calm day you could just sit on a flower stem if it
wasn't too flimsy, just sit there and remember metamorphosis.
Everyone Wants To Be
As marvelous as the cobbled warm water, the
blue background, the tender sponge, the marbled nail-brush handle. As
marvelous as the sloughed-off skin, the cuticle moons, the cuticle stars.
The Marvelous One
I was happy with her, at any rate. Up in
the humid morning to face the same square of wool. Heroic, really, and
every now and then more so. And if it turned out nobody knew what she
meant, what of it.
Nose of Apollo Butterfly
He was perfectly attractive otherwise and
there was no reason to think otherwise and there was no reason to change
it. Not only was he perfect, he was godlike, and there was no reason to
Cow with Red Knee
It's true I don't like certain flowers;
there's no getting around it. I used to like them more (let us not name
them here), but they offended me by not admitting they'd offended me, and
I do not like them.
Well I would still have them in the house,
I guess, but I do not like them.
The School of Botany with Flight of Butterflies
Unfair to the moonstruck cow that the
butterflies gather attention quicker. More quickly than the fired
newspaperwoman who made up stories. The botanical school of marmalade.
Up in her jewelry box in the attic a
turquoise ring, maybe aquamarine. Wouldn't ever fit me, or maybe would
now. They lay in that bed for years, staring at the wooden ceiling that
was just like a floor. But it's true no child was conceived there.
Tourist at a Beauty Spot
The beauty spot just below the mouth and
off to the left a little. And the left side generally more troublesome,
though it is all relative. The relatives are responsible, and it's a very
bad long joke.
Window Open to the Sky
Once during a semi-hurricane all the tools
left out in the rain were ruined, and rain poured in through the skylight
and the two hurried off in the truck to go save something, anything, but
they did not succeed.
My Cart, My Garden
Her brother in the wagon was blue, or it
was the colorized photograph, old-fashioned, old-brothered. A little blue
cap, some little yellow hair. And she pulled him around and she talked to
him and she heard him. He was a happy child in his hair wagon.
The Donkey at Work
This job is too simple for this donkey, who
is quite a genius. He might have what's called a good attitude now, but
it won't last forever. And what do you think? He's resigning, not
Heavily Worn Roadbed, the Garden of Stones
When they were planted, they were already
old, and some of them were thirsty. And some of them were perennials, and
some not. And they were not loved individually exactly, but that did not
matter to them so much as you'd think.
Run Grass, Jump Pebbles
He is saving the crystal radio project for
another time. There was some discussion of bicycles, but it didn't work
out. There was perhaps a flat tire, or simply a tire that needed air, but
there was little discussion and littler understanding.
Farewell My Dwellings
To have more than one dwelling is a
blessing; to have more than one body is a certainty. Each and every
morning the body is new--and that means yours too, my darling, my
The Very Rich Soil
Finally the dried-up trumpet-vine roots
showed life--feathery shoots in the delightfulest green, with little
brown tinges around all the edges, reddish really. And now to decide
where to plant them.
Hat and Breathing Spell
Breathing is difficult and often I am told
to do it. Breathing can be assisted by flower essence, or five-flower
essence to be specific, and that helps, and also the yoga befriending.
Tiny Stones Scattered on the Road
Lovely as if some dog had lapped them up.
And the other day I met S, a new dog in the neighborhood, with tall
lovely ears and fine wondering eyes. Black as a daisy, young, and he
stepped on the cosmos but it bounced right back up.
Topography with Seven Stones
Once I remember commenting on the
particular blue and someone saying it wasn't. This led to a long line of
years of recognition. Now I can spot cantankerous contrary. The
There should be no word for this, since it
is so common. No one of us wants to go out, to go out of our bodies, at
least at the last, at the last and the end. Or really very few.
Rubbish Bed at the Foot of the Wall
Rubbish grows nicely.
Well-made, well-rounded, she was something
like a peasant, but she had been in the news. She had been well accused.
We were wondering, and we're sorry, we think she did it.
Shrewd Old Dotard
All he required was a big yellow pail and
he would have been happy, or so he believed. How he obtained it was not
to be our business.
In such purity, such light. Somewhere
during birth all the colors just sloughed off. Somewhere in the mother,
then, the colors still remain. And another child shall have them, twice
as much of them, and look as sweet as the albino.
High Points of Marriage
You'd better just watch out because the
high points are all low. What I mean is, they are high, but they do not
always appear so. Like this morning; I wished you had not pulled up the
The Flower Crusher
Unforgivable at the time, and yet somehow
I've forgotten. I got dressed up, even with a black short skirt, and I
went to the den of the lawyer. I was left all alone with a rose until the
lawyer came down.
You were. You might still be. I have
Flowers and Viscera of Earth
The two are inextricably intertwined. S
speaks of G and N as being terribly in love and I think she means this: G
and N are together and speak of it kindly.
Impossible to read a beard map through the
hair. The map is in the beard or the beard is over the map. What is the
use of it? Unless you go nowhere.
Beard of Uncertain Returns
Now you're talking. That I can deal with.
Uncertain returns that are certain at least to be returns, if uncertain.
He held the egg upside-down in the air. He held the egg in its hair.
She was very amusing really, and I did not
mean to be mean to her, and eventually I wasn't. M says I might want to
be more direct, and I am learning to define myself by learning.
The Vase of Beard
Ah, Jean, you are never going too far. We
love your candid camera; we adore your Dubuffet buffet!
The Sea of Beard
I always loved that song: "The Sea of
Heartbreak...memories of...your caress...so divine...how I wish...you
were mine...again my dear...we're on a sea of fear...the sea of
The Lawn of Beard
We are mowing it over and over, and we
surely will mow it again. If I could just keep this in mind. If I could
just not see the lawn as static.
Skin so delighted with sun, skin so cool to
the touch, skin like the skin of a kitten just under its arm, and it's so
Shining in the sun is one thing and causing
a traffic jam is another. I suggest you hide your pearls before swine.
Yes, this is common too, and it's best to
just accept it. And if you make one joke you are valuable, but if you
make too many you're a problem. Like a morning glory, or anything.
The Turbulent Water
One morning we woke up and it just was
there, churning in the grey light, and the herons had taken shelter and
the swans schooled along. The swans must be heavy and the herons light,
or else why (but I know we are just not to know), would one bird hide and
Stiff-Necked and Uptight
It's all right to be that way, but not
often. If you do it often you get the effect of anger hours, and
people cannot love you. It is nice to think people can love you in the
anger hours, but the truth is they can't, at least not forever.
The Sea of Skin
If sometimes people are tanning by the
topiary, it becomes interesting. Some of the people nude are interesting,
some not. Some beautiful, some not. One woman who was not interesting
said "Everyone looks like me," but she was nude and wrong and it was not
This can be very cocoa. Walnut sometimes,
sometimes hazel. What I loved about everything you did when you danced
was that you'd hold me like a toothbrush but not exactly. Actually do not
think the dance is brown.
The Man of No Substance
Well clearly you simply do not take him to
dinner. And sometimes you have to spend time with him and then he is gone
and the world is the same. He had terrible toenails and feet that looked
One thing about you was slightly
unattractive always, and one thing was not. The lips had something to do
with it, but maybe not yours. All I remember is sitting on that bus
driving away from you being in love, and the pure greenness of it.
The Inner Life of the Mineral
Such pure liquids as these, such cloudlight
on water. Such peace attracts cats, who lie nearby you meditating,
Wall of Plant Matter
We cannot decide where to plant the trumpet
vines because we knew where originally but then the roots we were sent in
the mail took so long to sprout we thought they were dead and changed our
mind about their placement and now they're living.
Personage with Cigarette
Although unhealthy he gave us much joy. One
time we saw him with his shirt off.
Personage Sticking Out Tongue
Just a little personage, a child really.
And I wondered why V was so moody and where the little lost brown cat was
in the rain. I liked V's brother's wife and a little V's brother. A good
feel to it.
The Automobile, Flower of Industry
It can take us around, it is friendly, it
goes too fast. I love my white car, but wish it had air conditioning. A
hard white flower and her hair is never as thick as you might think. The
little girl at the movies had thicker hair--her whole family did.
They were an interesting looking family and
C said the kid looked like a cartoon character and then later called her
exquisite. Both mother and father were strange-looking but pleasing, and
the older daughter interesting too.
The Ladies at the Windows
Always at the windows and usually
uncomfortable in their clothes. When they were first married they all
seemed happy and everything on the up and up; now they stand at their
The Shot in the Wing
This happened to me when I was only 17,
during my first year in college. I looked in the mirror one morning and
there, completely unbeknownst to me, it was: the one wing dragging along
like a broken arm and the other one looking as if it would soon follow.
The Illusory Site
Probably there was no reason to think it
was unreal, and yet it might have been--possibly as unreal as the
sunlight's shadow on a long-driving day, or the way his voice sounded
tired and shadowy, illusory perhaps I should have said.
Most comforting: out from beside the
fast-food stand by the lake whose name I can never remember came one of
the peripheral uncles and one inebriated dad.
The Genuflection of the Bishop
In high school we had to kiss his ring. Had
he genuflected then, the score would have been settled.
Counterpoint with Tools
You cannot play counterpoint without tools;
you cannot embroider needlepoint or that wonderful-looking "blackwork"
without tools; you cannot hardly do a blessed thing without tools, and I
once made a tool from one-half of a pistachio shell and used it to open
Street with Pipe Smokers
This is much better; this is perfect.
Remember strolling across the park one cool autumn day and running into
Mr. R., who was smoking. He smiled at you and knew you, but could not
remember your name.
Automobile with Black Road
P always did. Remember your name. Looked
even once closely and fully at your face and pronounced your one name
correctly. You waited for him in his black wool overcoat and found he was
one of the first to have a phone in his car.
Nimble Free Hand
It reached for you, pulled its fingers
through your hair. Crocheted a bed jacket. Snapped poppit beads in and
out of a fabulous necklace.
Chain of Memory
Nimbly she planted the peach-colored
hyacinths on various graves. What to do when the water rises--is that a
fair thing to expect in a cemetery? I mean after your loved ones are
planted don't you have a right to expect they'll be dry?
Dwelling with Staircases and Many Rooms
I would like to go there; I am fond of
staircases. And the privacy rooms should be at the top of staircases, not
the bottom. I stood next to G for that photograph, and both of us were
very much younger then, although no one looked better.
It's true I went to the baseball game with
R, and he almost kissed me. We were laughing about something and I got
into my car and closed the door and he stuck his head in the open window
and almost kissed me. For years I was never quite sure of this.
Uneven and Ambling
Rises and irises have a lot
in common. And if it were not for our arbitrary wanting of "I" to be
capitalized, they'd have more.
Theater of Aberrations
After a while it becomes reality. This
morning I was thinking about T and how I'd said something I shouldn't
have said and then later she said I should have, even sooner. And it
turned out that was the best thing I ever said and who knew?
Site Inhabited by Objects
I remember where to start now, if I could
only sit comfortably. Probably I can move these things around, though not
nimble. Favorite of favorites, the lavender tree bush.
Surge of the Virtual
Contraptions of ignominious proportions.
Who do you think you are fooling here, the nub-rubbers? No puns allowed.
A woman who loved her dog, who had stopped all drinking, even water.
C says someone wants to come over for a
tour of my garden and that person would call first and that's good I
think because I'm writing now and don't even want to be hearing about
someone coming to look at my garden but if they call and come another
time that would be good.
Married Couple Visiting
McSomething was her married name, her
single name, her banana. And the quick banana that all of us ride is
this: no Freud intended. You bury the blue shells in the mud.
I left it on the counter though I didn't
mean to. And C left a black one in New Jersey. And all around the white
counter were blue ones, blue berets, turquoise berets. That's not the
color you were imagining, I know, but there you have it.
Old Man with Walking Stick
Woman who was named Walking Stick.
If you tell someone to look out the window, I'm going to do that
Cup of Tea
It was a lukewarm cup with ice cubes and he
didn't really know how to make it but we liked it. We liked it because he
had made it for us and it was good and a lovely color. A sort of sweet
and cloudy chartreuse and then later I told her how to spell
The Aleatory Man
Believed he could fly, and flew there.
Asked for what he got, and wanted it. Hooked himself up to a printer and
printed him out.
Table Holding Things To Be Done
This is my favorite table, everyone has
one. The more you pile on it the more interesting it eventually becomes.
Slips of paper here for example from harder times and from longer people.
Also a photo of dandruff, a piece of white locket.
Suddenly, then, a train goes by, though
there are no tracks: just how does it happen? And a fur coat, and a fake
fur coat, dead animals, no dead animals. I don't care if he gossips if he
doesn't wear fur.
Was he a "verbal listener" and did we know
it, did we discuss it? Did you listen verbally, did you? I
depend on it. For my life.
The Candelabra Tree
I told C it was beautiful karma to get rid
of the holes, the holes were all dirty. Especially if we were trying to
fill up the holes and deny it, there's no denying.
The Glass of Water
In the night, not even really in a
glass--in a ceramic cup, blue-green cup without a handle--and in the
night it was a great comfort, thank you, with an aspirin aspiring, just
one, just one.
Not much there, and yet he will empty it. I
tell him to, but he empties each folder. It could be the weather. I've
forgotten his name.
Or was it counterfactual? Can we
believe it. Is this another issue of trust, of "confidante trauma" of
battered life syndrome? Could I exist in a house made of windows, I
don't think so. I know so, not, not.
Tower of Ciphers
Nonsense indeed; it is not nonsense.
Not-sense. Not not-sense at all and I'm sorry, it's not. It could be,
that's as far as I'll go, but it isn't.
Finally we get it to be true, but it's not
that easy. We have to rearrange everything. Was she disconcerted by this?
I imagine so, but he says she wasn't. He's not being realistic, however,
and that's my humble opinion.
Monument to the Phantom
You can't see it. You can dream it, but you
have never seen it, it is that real. You dream it and you recognize it,
but it is only in your dreams and in truth you find it all the time in
real life but you cannot see it. The phantom can.
There's one up in Hull and the horses are
real purty. And there are little painted scenes on the machinery part and
outside the beach called The End of the World is nearby. I'll go there
Bedroom Under the Tree
Jesus Christ and if this could only be
true. Of course it is in some ways true even now, but he raises up the
windowshade too soon to examine which parts of the tree are dying. And
she's trying to tell him just one single fabulous idea now and he is not
Heap with Spike
Not harp with spike, or even
harpsichord. When we visited the antique musical instrument museum we
were enthralled by the little collection of Chinese gongs, puffy brass
lozenges with smooth raised centers. A woman told us it took six months
to tune them.
Bust with Elements Taking Flight
I do understand the taking flight part on
the part of busts because mine do all the time.
Is this a rating or a fact? Is it there I
can buy my cuckoo? Is it too crazy?
O if I could just forgive him. Or if I
could forgive him it wouldn't change anything. Still the loud loud mouth
and the don't don't care.
The Opening Window
When you find one that will open by itself
when it simply has a mind to you are lucky. Will it open on a clear
spring day letting in the scent of Paris-blossoms, or will it open on a
blizzard and will your photo of the duck get frozen? You just never
know, but you're lucky.
Stroller with Trees
The ambiguity of words when if we had a
picture here it would all be clear, or at least the matter of what kind
of stroller. In words to me it's the one kind first, the walking-walker
kind, and the baby carriage later.
Landscape with Red Automobile with Two Half-Size
If the landscape had been red it would have
all been another story: this way we are safe. The personages are only
half-personages anyway, so there's nothing to fear, and anyway we would
quickly escape in the blue auto.
Ground and Dog
The perfect relationship. Dog walks,
sleeps, runs, sleeps, shits, pees, rolls, and etcetera on Ground. Ground
is happy, and Dog we know always was.
Pink Landscape with Five Personages
The personages in this case only add to the
landscape immensely since they are dressed in blue. Together with the
pink sky and the pink bushes and the pink road there's an intense feeling
of beauty, a sunset on the land.
Place for Strolling
Today we went there and strolled
contentedly and we walked off our pains and anger. And the little white
herons were there and the night herons also and a wonderful kind of fat
brownish duck. And the catalpa trees, needless to mention.
Just forget it, don't do it the favor of
These are the ones that are so hard for me
sometimes, sometimes when I lie just awake, half asleep, or rooting
through conversations when I just want to hold you.
So incredibly irritating especially when
those who can't speak French are here. Wiggling like robots.
The Round of Images
You gave me many, and the best of all
these. And then one day I went beyond, and one day I sang you.
I never understood the job he said he had
in the war. It was something with codes and puzzles and he used a white
cane to be blind. I was tall and I loved him.
Tissue of Episodes
Living in the cool woods museum with the
strange owl-face. Kissed like a fair Rumpelstiltskin on ice. We admit it.
I must have purchased four of these before
finding the one that sufficed.
Villager with Close-Cropped Hair
Hair of the personage, I thought you'd say.
The whole book I'd visualized really well, but I couldn't see over his
The Life of Pleasure
The Sea of Heartbreak.
Woman Trying on Hat
O for god's sake all this trying on is fun
and especially the gangster hat with flowers with the hatband all
The Substance of Stars
I can't tell how you know this and you are
crushing my spine. I trust you, but I can't tell why. You believe me for
no reason. The stars are like eyes.
Spirit of Tarnish
Something keeps pulling me back to the edge
of the mantelpiece: B was there. Something he was trying to say about the
silence, his and J's, though not the J we think of. A pale turquoise hid
there, and a wild watch on his arm.
The Puckered Collar
All tuckered out. Rinsed in saline forests.
Blue around the edges. Sweet wide and yellow. A white patch.
The Old Man of the Beach
Not on the beach, of the
beach, which you'd think would make all the difference. Formed of the
beach, perhaps, like a shallow puddle in the shape of torso, arms, legs
in whitest sand. Beard made of seaweed, scallops for eyes.
Itinerary of the Turning Moon
C says it's Barcelona, maybe M's still
there, I say it's quite internal, I felt the moon turn on a falling tear.
Nothing worse. The other B was married
before and his wife was the Glory Sunshine Bread girl as a child. She
grew up gorgeous too. They ate butter.
Cow with the Beautiful Muzzle
Soft and unwrinkled, all of her. Just
mottled, tipped with pink, white, and brown. A cocoa-color, really, and a
bit of tangerine. She lifted her muzzle to greet us, chew and nod.
Same cow, different view. Today everything
else might change.
Profuse Wet Nurse
Also a cow though we all hope free grazing
and well treated and happy to share her milk.
The Extravagant Lady
In a good way she was long but she was
ailing in generosity on Tuesday when her ears failed her.
Excrescence at Play
If you can't play you can't create, don't
be surprised that the excrescence does it.
Dog on the Table
Because there were so many other places
he'd been told not to go.
There's a kind of inescapable betrayal, not
for love. He squinted and she couldn't make out his face and I'm afraid
Knoll of Visions
Happier there than all possibilities: no
feeling creature wounded or disgraced. Clear water fell in the corner,
through a collander, through a screen.
Take it in your hand and break it, take it
alone, take it to bed. The logic isn't broken, just abandoned.
Table of Doubtful Form
Exactly as we perceived it, exactly so. And
the terrible joke he made about the dog I was pleased to receive although
it was quite loathsome. It was a joke only when you looked at the sides,
not a table.
We all say if he could just do this we
would be happy, but I don't think so, it's not so simple. A kiss in the
center of the back on a cool morning would do it.
Diane Wald was born in Paterson, NJ, and has lived in
Massachusetts since 1972. She has been publishing in literary magazines
since 1966: including, for example, Kayak, Black Warrior Review,
American Poetry Review, Salt Hill Journal, Ploughshares, Missouri Review,
Boston Literary Review, and College English. She was the recipient of
a two-year fellowship in poetry from the Fine Arts Work Center in
Provincetown and has been awarded the Grolier Poetry Prize, The Denny
Award, and The Open Voice Award. She also received a state grant from the
Artists Foundation (Massachusetts Council on the Arts). She has published
two chapbooks (My Hat That Was Dreaming from White Fields Press
and Double Mirror from Runaway Spoon Press) and won the Green Lake
Chapbook Award from Owl Creek Press for The White Horse Love
Poems. Her full-length collection, Lucid Suitcase, is due out
from Red Hen Press in 1999. She teaches at University College of
Northeastern University, and at The Art Institute of Boston, where she is
Dean of Faculty. She has also taught autobiography courses for Writers on
William Slaughter, Editor
Department of English and Foreign Languages
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, Florida 32224-2645
Contents | Mudlark No. 10