An Electronic Journal of Poetry & Poetics

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ISSN 1081-3500 | Copyright © Mudlark 1998

Editor: William Slaughter | E-mail:



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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 be enlightened.

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.

Rope Skipper
     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 beautiful.

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, finally.

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.

Nude Cyclist
     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.

Winey Landscape
     Ice bucket, who knows, where's the ice, who needs it, ro-say wine, bottle too large, nobody drinks it. Not-body.

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.

Fossilized Speechifier
     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 appealed.

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.

Asphalt Caperer
     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.

Time Presses
     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 feeling.

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.

Landscaped Table
     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. Tell it.

Carrot Nose
     Don't want to talk about it.

Ecstasy in the Sky
     Can't remember. Must have been sleeping upside-down.

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 change it.

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.

Moonstruck Cow
     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. Five salamanders.

Mother-of-Pearl Garden
     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 resigned.

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 dwelling.

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 cantankerous canary.

The Agoraphobic
     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.

Peasant Door
     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.

The Albino
     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 shade.

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.

Debonair Individual
     You were. You might still be. I have photos.

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.

Beard Map
     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.

Beard Table
     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 I were mine...again my dear...we're on a sea of fear...the sea of heartbreak."

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.

Epidermal Jubilation
     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 inviting.

Pearl-Bearing Gravel
     Shining in the sun is one thing and causing a traffic jam is another. I suggest you hide your pearls before swine. Pearl gavel.

Somber Development
     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 one not?

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 interesting.

Brown Dance
     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 like porridge.

Pursed Lips
     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, knowing.

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.

Looking Well
     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 windows.

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.

Puppet City
     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 some others.

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.

Red Beret
     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 too.

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 wardrobe.

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.

The Gossiper
     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.

The Listener
     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.

Logological Cabinet
     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.

Contrapuntal Landscape
     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.

Enamel Garden
     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.

The Merry-Go-Round
     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 tomorrow.

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 listening.

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.

Cuckoo Bazaar
     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 Personages
     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.

Banal Place
     Just forget it, don't do it the favor of recalling.

Mingle Moments
     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.

Generalized Activity
     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.

The Decipherer
     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. All paisley.

Recording Unwinder
     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 buzz-cut.

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 snipped.

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.

Dimpled Cheeks
     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.

Mottled Cow
     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.

Squinting Man
     There's a kind of inescapable betrayal, not for love. He squinted and she couldn't make out his face and I'm afraid someone noticed.

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.

Logic-Breaking Stone
     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.

Bestowing Blessings
     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 the Net.

William Slaughter, Editor
Department of English and Foreign Languages
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, Florida 32224-2645

Contents | Mudlark No. 10