P.W Bridgman on Jude Nutter

Jude5

*****

Jude Nutter was born in Yorkshire, England, and grew up near Hannover, in northern Germany.  She studied printmaking at Winchester School of Art (UK) and received her MFA in poetry from The University of Oregon.  Her poems have appeared in numerous national and international journals and have received over forty awards and grants. She currently lives in Minneapolis, and divides her time between Minnesota and Dingle, Ireland, where she has a family home. Jude will be The High Window’s Featured Poet in the second instalment of the spring issue. However, to give you a further insight into her work, you will find below a review of her latest collection, Dead Reckoning, by the Canadian poet and critic P.W.  Bridgman and her long poem, “Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011”, which he discusses in it.

*****

 P.W. Bridgman’s third and fourth books—Idiolect (poetry) and The Four-Faced Liar (short fiction)—were published in 2021 by Ekstasis Editions. His writing has appeared in, among others, The Moth Magazine, The Glasgow Review of Books, The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review, LitroUK, LitroNY, The High Window, The Maynard, The Antigonish Review and Grain. P.W. Bridgman writes from Vancouver, Canada. Learn more about his work at www.pwbridgman.ca.

*****

ReviewPoem: Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011

*****

Dead Reckoning by Jude Nutter. £11.00, €12.00, $14.95 (USD), $19.95 (CAD). Salmon Poetry, ISBN: 978-1-912561-89-6

This review begins with more than the usual metaphorical throat-clearing. Indeed, it begins with metaphorical throat-clearing on a scale seldom seen outside the pages of the London Review of Books. However, no apology is offered, nor should there be. You will soon understand why.

Occasionally, a work of art, music or literature will enter your orbit, commandeer your senses and lay an unyielding claim to your attention. Rather like Halley’s Comet, these experiences are memorable not just for their rarity but for their profound and lasting impact. In this case, Halley’s Comet was delivered by post in the Spring of 2015.

The arrival of The Moth Magazine through our Vancouver mail slot is always a welcome event. But who could have known how welcome it would be this time? In the Spring 2015 issue I found a long poem—unusually long for The Moth—entitled “Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011”. The poem was attributed to Jude Nutter, a poet with whom I was not then familiar.

Sometimes a poem’s title simply demands that you step immediately across its threshold and enter. “Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011” is like that—quirky, provocative, a title whose summons one dares not disobey. Time stopped as I disappeared fully into the poem. I read on, through to the end, and then straightaway started at the beginning and savoured it again, more slowly. I could see that “Disco Jesus…” was one of those poems—like Louis MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal”, Allen Ginsberg’s “Song”, Norm Sibum’s “In Laban’s Field”, Seamus Heaney’s “Station Island”, Paul Muldoon’s “Incantata”, Paul Batchelor’s “A Form of Words”—which first register on the pulses and then chase up the full length of the spine with a careening abandon, their darks and their lights, their minor and major chords, settling finally in the branching ventricles of the welcoming brain like a flock of birds. Rich in edgy and unconventional metaphor, dark in places and darkly comic in others, plaintive, defiant… it is little wonder that “Disco Jesus…” was a finalist for the Ballymaloe Poetry Prize in 2015. The poem left me wondering: How in God’s name can I have come this far and not know this poet?

The watches and clocks in my world eventually began to tick again. Once finished reading the poem for the second time (the second of many), I set about after a long pause to find out more about the poet. I discovered other examples of Jude Nutter’s poetry, here and there online, and my enthusiasms were fortified. With each new reading, time slowed again and the bell continued to toll insistently as I read—sure signs that “Disco Jesus…” was not just an anomaly.

One might say that that kind of foretaste of what might be waiting between the covers of Dead Reckoning should do nothing other than prepare the ground for disappointment, for a sense of anticlimax. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dead Reckoning reveals Nutter’s highly developed poetic talent in its full fruition and maturity. And it is a fitting new home for a slightly revised version of “Disco Jesus…”.

Nutter’s first title—Pictures of the Afterlife—is, like Dead Reckoning, a Salmon Poetry title. Then there are The Curator of Silence (2007) and I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman (2010), both published by the University of Notre Dame Press in the USA. These first three books of poems have all justly received prestigious awards. Dead Reckoning will surely attract comparable recognition in time.

Here endeth the throat-clearing.

Nutter introduces Dead Reckoning with a quotation that, in effect, defines its title. The quotation reads, in part:

The concept is simple: you deduce your location through a history of your travels from a starting point to your current location.

Indeed, in Dead Reckoning Nutter has located her place in the phenomenal world by training her metaphorical telescope, compass and sextant first upon the psychological landmarks that defined her and her surroundings during her childhood, youth and early adulthood. Chief among those landmarks are fragments of family history and, in particular, seismic events that occurred during the later phase of that history, those being the deaths of her parents. Using these reference points, Dead Reckoning charts a zig-zag course through the poet’s joys and doubts, her loves and her losses.

Everything began securely enough it seems, tethered as the poet was to family at first instance. Yet, looking back, Nutter digresses to take inventory of growing doubts and anxieties about why and how Blakean innocence may have been displaced. She ruminates about how “fearsome weather” was, and must inevitably again be, faced and navigated; about where the true north that ought to guide us truly lies (and whether its mysterious claim over the compass needle is real and can be trusted).

A rhetorical question lies beneath the surface of Dead Reckoning. It is this: Will the tether continue to hold in the wake of the deaths of those nearest us and the buffeting of other heavy weather?

Nutter seems to have lived some parts of her life in places near the blustery sea. In her poem, “The Shipping Forecast”, she quotes some rather spare words of succour given by her mother at times of adversity: “…worse things, remember, happen at sea”.

Cold comfort, one might say; stoically though kindly imparted, more for protection than for consolation.

Nutter’s poems reveal a fascination, a preoccupation even, with doors and openings, apertures and gaps; with mouths and wounds and holes in the ground. These interruptions in otherwise seamless surfaces—both physical and metaphysical—invite, repel and sometimes taunt. They permit entry and they sometimes allow escape. Nutter has used them to construct an elaborate symbology. Thus, speaking of a lover in “Disco Jesus…”:

…Every scar is a door

and I have never known scars like his: shrapnel,
bullet, knife blade. The English, I told him
once, as I placed the welter of my lips to his damages
one by one, assume the French verb blesser

to wound—means to bless; and he,
without remembering he said it,
said: the way in and the way out—the doors
to heaven are always small…

I will stay a little longer with the subject of doors and openings, and mouths especially, because the subject seems an especially important one when reading Nutter.

Three of the poems in Dead Reckoning which deal poignantly with the loss of Nutter’s father incorporate the Latin word ianua (“door”) in their titles. In the first (“Ianua: 19 September 2016”) the poet descends, trance-like, far beneath the earth’s surface into a deep, dark cave. Despite the banal prattling of her tour guide, for Nutter the spell remains unbroken. This downward journey seems to have been undertaken in pursuit of a symbolic rendezvous with mortality and the one it has recently claimed but, in the end, Nutter emerges with her quest largely unfulfilled. Having gained entry to the cave, she is brought up short well into it by the “strung barrier of a chain-link fence”, beyond which she cannot pass. “Every road, every path, every turn I take // leads here”, she says, and yet:

… why am I here,
father, if I cannot enter?

Plainly this descent into the earth evinces no death wish; it is not, figuratively, a plea by Nutter to be swallowed up by a grave-like feature of the natural world. (I use the word “swallowed” advisedly.) Rather it is, I think, a plea for insight into one of life’s great mysteries, uttered at a time of sharp loss when grief’s opacity seems wholly impermeable to either heart or mind.

I made mention above of how Nutter’s poems reveal doubts and anxieties about how innocence may be lost through the random vagaries of fate. We see this in the poem “Dead Reckoning, Part I: Taking Departure” where the child protagonist happens upon a scatter of paper—photographs torn into small pieces, spread widely across a wooded hollow. These scraps herald:

…the first signs of trouble

in the kingdom of childhood.
Evidence of a bloodless

violence—a private battle, but battle
all the same…

The child gathers up the scraps, one by one, and takes them home. She sorts them into piles as when assembling a jigsaw—“skin tone, hair colour, body parts”. Ominously, she begins to reassemble them and as she does her innocence begins to slip away. Here, the recurrent mouth image, this time brutally silenced, features prominently.

…here and there a pair
of knickers around a pair

of ankles like a shackle.
And within each mouth, beyond

the lips’ blown defences, behind
an even shield wall of teeth,

the tongue’s flexible blade vanishing
down the throat’s narrowing welcome.

Imagery of mouth, teeth, voice and silence recurs in a poem near the end of Dead Reckoning entitled, fittingly, “My Mother’s Teeth”. This poem is a lament following another shattering death. It is replete with mourning and ferocity in equal measures and it contains, in a powerful declamation wrung from raw experience, what might perhaps be considered a manifesto:

…I say the mouth

is the most dangerous kingdom of all. I say paradise
is there behind the gates of the teeth because
it is there that the tongue’s nimble wand

names its hungers. And I say life means nothing
if we can’t be brought willingly down and consumed
by the terrible needs in another’s mouth.

The tongue—at times a “flexible blade”, at others a “nimble wand”—is the root of thought and emotion transmuted into speech, humankind’s most powerful and sometimes most feared and special gift. To disable it is the cruellest of affronts.

Against the background of the brave and defiant words just quoted from “My Mother’s Teeth”, Nutter’s cataloguing of death’s ghoulish and galling banalities in the poem—the defilements of the body that comprise conventional burial practices particularly—seems all the more horrific. And yet, and yet… even these prosaic trappings and accompaniments, which fasten themselves unavoidably to one of the world’s greatest profundities, succeed in drawing from Nutter more fierce words; worthy words that bristle with love, admiration and gratitude for her mother’s life and, ultimately, for her mother’s personal agency which brings about the peaceable relaxation of life’s grip:

I say the body’s ferocity to die is as real
as its ferocity to live. I remember the way
the firm seam of your lips refused every

effort we made to feed you tiny portions of food
and crushed tablets folded with honey.
I knew the undertaker had packed your throat

with gauze, caulked your mouth
into a pleasing shape and then wired your jaw
finally closed and I began dreaming

you’d been kidnapped, your mouth stuffed
with whatever was close at hand—scarf, sock,
underwear, duster—because it felt as if the world

were holding you ransom, as if a typed note
might drop through the galvanized sneer
of the letter box; that whatever the price,

I would pay it. We had cleared the paraphernalia
of your dying away: the baby food and morphine
and needles. The bed. The commode. The dressings

and tablets and fortified juices, and the oxygen
with its skeins of tubing. And because I needed
to hold them fast, in the way I held your body

fast—in mind, in the earth, with your feet
to the hills and your head to the bay and its small talk
of salt—I climbed to the lake with your teeth,

in their plastic temple, in my pocket.

Writing of this calibre is so rarely encountered. It is like Halley’s Comet. It provokes awe and approaches the sacramental.

It was heart disease apparently (a myocardial rupture, perhaps?) that brought Nutter’s lamented father’s life to an end—he who could thereafter be approached gingerly through a cave’s gaping mouth but, alas, could not be reached. At the very centre of her father’s body she locates a different kind of mouth—a false one which cruelly silenced him:

…And in his heart there is a wound

like a mouth, now, where no
mouth should be. Lipless. A mouth
without language. (“Ianua: Day Zero Plus Three”)

And where are we left by such grievous silencings? To accept, if we can, and to hold our lost ones close in memory and in dream, however unsatisfactory a substitute that may be. Nutter continues:

…Yet what
are dreams if not memory at work

inside the body, which is flesh
and knows only the moment. When I wake
there will be nothing but the mouth

of each empty doorway; each empty
doorway’s line of threshold…

I see no contradiction between these words of seeming resignation and the fiercer ones quoted earlier; just a faithful reflection of the ungovernable ebbs and flows that carry one’s experience of loss whither they might, particularly when the deprivation is fresh and its rung bell’s sombre note is still audible. This, after all, is the raw stuff—however painful—from which poetry is wrought. In Nutter’s own words:

…death let poetry into my house
and this is my work: to remember whatever it is
that is now no body at all. (From “Still Life with Hand Grenades and Tulips”)

And it goes further. Much further. For this poet, poetry’s power transcends its ability to build battlements to keep cherished memory in; it furnishes the tools needed to disarm the adversary when encountered and thus deflect history’s faltering path when necessary. Speaking in the poem “The Alchemist” of a girl “who witnessed everything”—that is to say, senseless and unspeakable cruelty visited upon helpless animal victims by neighbourhood boys—Nutter says this:

She knows I have no gods.
She knows when I write that my whole body
becomes a mouth; that I

could disarm those boys of every single
cruelty they go on to commit and so
transform them, in memory, to mere glints
of dread—glass shard, knife blade,
the flensed stick. And the nail, point upward,
in the grass of the garden. Where she

is waiting. With no catapult,
no rock, no rope. No
visible weapon of any kind.

This is as stirring a testament to the sheer power of words as I have ever seen.

Another focus that pervades Dead Reckoning is human intimacy and its discontents. We see this emphasis both in Nutter’s writing about the many kinds of fulfilment that intimacy brings, and also about its risks and hazards.

There are times when the poems sound triumphant and proud in this regard; when Nutter’s paeans to physical intimacy sound clarion calls or calls to arms, rallying cries to face down the puritanical naysayers. But even then, the exuberance is sometimes qualified by a note of reservation. In this example from “Disco Jesus…”, where Nutter shouts back at the braying televangelist on her television screen who preaches that “…The hungers // of the body… always / lead us astray”—we find a good illustration. Nutter is having none of it, saying:

And what use,
really, is this life, if it’s not one long
sheath of longing. We are all under siege,
he says, afflicted, bedevilled, assailed

by carnality, so let us pray. Let us pray, he says,
for the wavering virgins. Now I say
it is the poet’s duty to wait,
to wait in the dark, to wait in the dark

at the world’s mercy
for moments such as this. In the beginning
is the word. And the word
is sex. In the beginning is the kiss

that gives rise to the myth of Eden—that bright
landscape unfettered by history
that we create when we place our open mouth
to the open mouth of another

for the very first time…

Then comes the “and yet”, the reservation, the qualification, the reference to greed and self-dealing, to the inability of some to be wholly selfless at shared moments of intimate vulnerability.

…And yet there is
no garden in which the lion ever will
lie down with the lamb. And like this
the whole body becomes an eye turned

to nothing
but its own pleasure. And every time
we lie down to assuage our loneliness,
we find the flesh already there,

waiting. And all we ever want to do
is undo the violence of this world, and yet
that’s how we lie down—with need
and avarice.

This must be why—even in the midst of paroxysms of bliss while being held by a lover so beguiling he can conjure “even the dirt up from its knees”—a lover must do more; he must “conjure a body for [her] out of the body [she has]”.

Heartbreaking.

It is obvious from all of the foregoing that Nutter is astute in matters of the human heart. She is wise. As can be seen, she is alive to the transcendent possibilities of human intimacy but also properly wary. She misses none of the contradictions that lurk beneath the surface of things, nor those which go unrecognised even though they are in plain view and stare us all in the face. Near the end of “Disco Jesus…” Nutter asks, perhaps transgressively:

…Why, if desire is so perilous, are we given a god
so obviously human, with an athlete’s body, lean

and well-worked; a god whose loincloth is slipping,
pulled down by its own slight weight
over one hip; who has, still, despite all
that’s been done to him, such beautiful hands.

And then, further down the page she allows herself to wonder, too, why we were given a god:

…Who dies with his arms wide open.

I could go on and on, but every review must end somewhere. Allow me to conclude with a few examples of Nutter’s breathtakingly beautiful metaphorical passages. She possesses, I believe, perhaps the most finely tuned ear for metaphor of any poet writing today. Her use of startling juxtapositions is thrillingly alchemical.

It is my habit, when writing reviews, to attach post-it notes to mark the places where particular turns of phrase are so arresting in their beauty or ingenuity that they call out for special mention. This is a vain strategy when reading Jude Nutter. My copy of Dead Reckoning is so festooned with post-it notes that they no longer serve any useful purpose. There is just too much… there. So, I leave you with five.

• …the heart, believing it will find
what it came for, is one step ahead
of reason…

• …remember… those few years (remember?)
when the mind, housed
like the seed of a berry in the flesh
and oblivious to the flesh,
had not yet invented the body as a problem.

• …Such waste, she says, her lips puckered
by an invisible drawstring of disapproval.

• …I would dream of great trawlers
moving inevitably, into fearsome weather.
The chewed edge of a bow wave,
and a handful of following gulls cuffed
back and forth through night’s black wall
into the reach of the running lights.

• …Think of that flare deep in the gut—love’s
visceral engine—when our lines match up
with the shapes of our longing.

Buy this book. Like Halley’s Comet, nothing like it will pass this way again for a long, long time. Dead Reckoning rightly deserves to become one of the measuring sticks, nay the standards, by which future poetry titles, written in English, will be judged.

*****

Jude Nutter: Poem

DISCO JESUS AND THE WAVERING VIRGINS IN BERLIN, 2011

Although a man, I no longer want. I disown and forget all desires of the flesh.
— late-night televangelist

And how convenient, I say, to the dark. Because this
is what I do when I cannot sleep: sit in darkness
flicking through the god channels, sneering
and answering back, while the neon

tetras beneath their flickering tube light weave
their Möbius strip through the wet fire
of the only world they know; while a man
who makes it dishonest for a woman

to disown her desires—a man
whose body becomes, during sex,
one long wound—sleeps across the hall
in a king-size bed. Every scar is a door

and I have never known scars like his: shrapnel,
bullet, knife blade. The English, I told him
once, as I placed the welter of my lips to his damages
one by one, assume that the French verb blesser

to wound—means to bless; and he,
without remembering he said it,
said: the way in and the way out—the doors
to heaven are always small. This is a man who beguiles

even the dirt up from its knees, whose hands
conjure a body for me out of the body I have; and yet
every bed is a death bed; and yet, the only door
out of the body is death. Outside, a great city

and its troubled history under rain.
How is it we can be loved
so well and remain so famished still?
I rejoice, says the preacher, in the celibate life;

the thought of one day dying
into heaven. Behind him, deep in an alcove,
washed by slow strobes of alternating colour,
Jesus, life-size and on the cross, turns

from blue to red to yellow
and I am back, suddenly,
in those dreadful Youth Club discos—
all cheap lighting and tinny reverb

and hidden pints of liquor—where I
once let a boy called Martin nudge his hand,
centimetre by centimetre—as if
I wouldn’t notice—up under my blouse

until it came to rest, fingers spread, clamped
over my left breast like a fleshy starfish.
I let him because he was tall, a bad boy,
every girl’s crush. And because my desire

was beginning to acquire a formal structure.
In this life, proclaims the preacher, as Jesus
turns yellow turns orange turns green, we are all
under siege, beset by temptations. I watch

as a single tetra, little morsel of colour, breaks
from the neon spackle of the crowd
and drifts upwards to place the dark foyer
of its tiny mouth

against the roof of its world. And what use,
really, is this life, if it’s not one long
sheath of longing. We are all under siege,
he says, afflicted, bedeviled, assailed

by carnality, so let us pray; let us pray, he says,
for the wavering virgins. Now I say
it is the poet’s duty to wait,
to wait in the dark, to wait in the dark

at the world’s mercy
for moments such as this. In the beginning
is the word. And the word
is sex. In the beginning is the kiss

that gives rise to the myth of Eden—that bright
landscape unfettered by history
that we create when placing our open mouth
to the open mouth of another

for the very first time. And yet there is
no garden in which the lion ever will
lie down with the lamb. And, like this,
the whole body becomes an eye turned

to nothing
but its own pleasure. And every time
we lie down to assuage our loneliness,
we find the flesh already there,

waiting. And all we ever want to do
is undo the violence of this world, and yet
that’s how we lie down—with need
and avarice. In the beginning, as I remember it,

xxxxxxxis a walled garden, staples of croquet hoops
xxxxxxxpunched into a lawn. Beyond, in a field,
xxxxxxxa horse with a tail so long it brushes the grass.
xxxxxxxLate summer. Farm work. Room and board

xxxxxxxand pocket change for college. Summer’s end,
xxxxxxxthen; cut fields at dusk and hawks slicing low
xxxxxxxover the brittle blonde pipes of stubble.
xxxxxxxSo many lives already undone

xxxxxxxby the round scythes of the combine.
xxxxxxxAt night, from my single bed, I listen to the pauses
xxxxxxxand the breaks in the bicker of the shower
xxxxxxxas the farmer’s eldest son turns

xxxxxxxand twists beneath it in the small bathroom
xxxxxxxalong the hall. When I imagine his body—which I do,
xxxxxxxand often—it’s as a series of broad,
xxxxxxxquiet rooms inside the rattle of falling water.

xxxxxxxHe becomes a man made up of absence.
xxxxxxxIn the beginning (as I remember it) he puts on
xxxxxxxhis boots and a waxed jacket and walks out
xxxxxxxwith his dog and a shotgun

xxxxxxxinto the fields. I do not remember
xxxxxxxthe gun’s report, but if I am not with him
xxxxxxxwhy are there pigeons, all flash
xxxxxxxand clatter, breaking for the open; why do I feel,

xxxxxxxstill, the sudden change
xxxxxxxin their purchase on the air—a few seconds
xxxxxxxof wild churn and scramble before the spin down
xxxxxxxinto the stubble. There is the unlit weight

xxxxxxxof each skull’s chamber, the beak’s
xxxxxxxloose tweezers, the eyes’ eclipse.
xxxxxxxWith the harvest in, with summer over,
xxxxxxxwith his parents at church again every Sunday,

xxxxxxxit is inevitable, really. And afterwards we lie
xxxxxxxlike moist kindling under the covers and the world
xxxxxxxis just as it was, only more so.
xxxxxxxOver the fields, first mists of September

xxxxxxxunfurling their aprons the colour of iron.
xxxxxxxRooks like black static. A breeze heckling
xxxxxxxsilver out of the grass until the lawn
xxxxxxxis a carpet of knives. It is my job to cut and split

xxxxxxxand ransack the nave of each bird,
xxxxxxxwhich his mother will bake with orange juice
xxxxxxxand honey. Six birds in a wheel
xxxxxxxon a willow pattern plate, a carousel

xxxxxxxof pigeons, their bald, glazed wings
xxxxxxxlike tiny flippers, and what meat there is
xxxxxxxlatticed by shot. It is 1978. I am eighteen.
xxxxxxxThe year Sweden outlaws aerosols,

xxxxxxxand Markov, Bulgarian defector, is assassinated
xxxxxxxwith a poisoned umbrella tip, and Egypt
xxxxxxxmakes peace with Israel and war begins
xxxxxxxin Afghanistan and a man more than twice my age

xxxxxxxteaches me that the body
xxxxxxxis its own reward. And these days
I sleep right through the minor disruption
of my lover’s shower, and when I wake

he’s at work—in jeans, perhaps, but shaved—
with his feet on the table and a folder
of case notes before him and his gun, unbreakable
heart, in a holster against his ribs. The hungers

of the body, says the preacher, always lead us
astray. So let us pray.
Outside, the red crumble of tail lights
down Linienstraβe. A great city

and its troubled history under rain.
The whole of Europe under the same rain.
A waver, I once read, is a young tree
left uncut during the clearing of timber. Rain,

somewhere, loosening its clothes to play wanton
in the fields; rain drumming its fingers
on the green tiers of the trees. The loneliness
of rain that has come so far

touching only one leaf. And where rain is falling
where there are no leaves, a greater loneliness.
Every word for what we are
leads us back to this. Human,

from the Latin humus, meaning earth. Flesh,
from the Greek, related to sarx, meaning earthly; meaning,
of man set adrift from the divine. Every word
for what we are brings us back to the dirt. So yes, I say,

let us pray. Let there be buttons
abandoning their buttonholes. Let tongues unbuckle,
let watches, let belts. May small change fallen
from pockets be forgotten, never found.

And shy flags of hair swing loose. Storms
inside strokes of wind. The world is full
of alchemy, so let there be questions
and demands. Small talk, dirty talk, language

in all denominations. Let keys drop and fingers find
every latch and lock and legs peel free
from the sheer, long throats of stockings. Let hearts
be up to their necks in longing.

May jackets and shirts turn inside out;
may the body—in rooms specially rented,
in cars, on tables, in single beds
on Sundays. Body, believed to be related to Old Norse

buthker, meaning box; as in, coffin
that goes into the earth. And when the virgins
go down may they go down like heavy crops
go down before the cutter—without choice

and ripe with rains and sugar. Jesus, abandoned
on the cross, alone in his alcove, turns
from green, back to blue, back to red,
while in its tank that single tetra forms perfect

circles on the water simply by drifting
to the surface and kissing what imprisons it.
Why, if desire is so perilous, are we given a god
so obviously human, with an athlete’s body, lean

and well-worked; a god whose loincloth is slipping,
pulled down by its own slight weight
over one hip; who has, still, despite all
that’s been done to him, such beautiful hands.

A god whose crown is askew,
whose hair needs washing, whose wounds
will become the most terrible of scars.
A god who may well

have desired a woman who made desire pay.
Who may well have been her lover.
Who dies with his arms wide open.

Back to the top

*****

2 thoughts on “P.W Bridgman on Jude Nutter

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