040.1: Sara Mumolo:: Third Nude & Nude at Dusk & Left Nude 040

The nude has enjoyed something of a revival in the art world: Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville have famously depicted the naked body as a grotesque and vulnerable form. But what is the role of the “nude” in poetry? Can poetic enterprise appropriate a visual tradition and extend it beyond the mimetic constraints of ekphrasis? Sara Mumolo’s nudes address these questions directly. The nude is no longer an object to be copied but rather an idea generating personal, political and social associations. In “Third Nude,” for instance, Mumolo stages a variety of “interruptions” combining discourses diverse as motherhood, data entry, and Chaucer. Qualities once considered essential to the body are different robes to be stripped off and worn as dictated by the discursive context. Nakedness becomes an unspoken but formative motif. The Sphinx loses her riddle; bodies are disinterred. In the body’s nakedness lies its potential for different forms; these forms are also—always—constraints. Mumolo has given us Lacan’s paradox, but with poetic clarity: the more we embody, the more we alienate. Ryan Winet

Third Nude


We could be nothing but interruptions

moon-colored snow


if class can belong to a body



you mentioned the moral debt               a mother incurs

when making a parenting error


(through each entry)



her specter pursues me               its supreme-indifferent-fiction


notes pass between moon & snow



where sunslits graze the bedroom wall

your hand colors a body


it’s the health of a nude, not her convention


(vocabulary is torturous)



to attend her modesty                              she’s a child-at-play


we fail to sow Olympia
in my unposed limbs


fragile achievements of uncertainty — pleasure — make her a man


my breasts pulled out of shape because


dank background that maintains our compliance


a breast, a photograph of a breast & the meaning of a breast



yet,        beneath my open
arms nothing but shadows


Chaucer used ‘aspen’ to mean trembling


& I see my hair fail with allowed disorder

near you



disarm my most comfortable     belief…


earth is not your orphan

what are these people in my life       if not

comes and goers of an outside world




Nude at Dusk


You hang yourself for the lady

of the house         not its guest


like a guest, I wrought


cash cradle        revises the world


leitmotif of our universe




domestically, incompletely,


the courtesan was thought a main representation of modernity


sunshine and shadow show her                  in shade and sun




cooing your tired mystery            solicited from privacy…



pale-lumps of earth in my pocket where rent


where your hand should be



so spoke the decent voice of trade

money’s     defensive     dignity


like Gramma swears Elvis lives

how the bourgeoisie believed in Desire


and none of these anxieties are new


desperation, a rope ends it




… I believed the pastels sung your voices up my thigh

new pessimisms?


A redhead          is of a perfect ugliness
bad-luck-baby in Italy hither


the het-up
prostitute, the category


desire or guilt as aspects of each other


I left you     I felt you




necessary twin           in myth of social


fear and money tugging pains in the foreground…


with my body already lost,

I’m scared of my mind wandering off



tears of clear and simple


teeth,                 soft-bones around contention

where a margin of error takes            its place for the system


stakes               the sphinx without her riddle


how to call it wise and foolish virgins




Left Nude


Flexible architecture of belonging      to someone


we disinter ourselves                 as the moon

what does the moon do




sudden-improbable-sequins where illusion, reigns, strike us


my body is BOOMING



boxed vegetables appear on the porch because I live in California

& wilt because our janky-rented-house


…skills let me navigate you…skills tell me to abandon self


when asked about imaginary        you say the daily world is strange enough

yet

nothing mediates our convention



or, the main ability of a nude is how her body triumphs…

when earth rehearses her irrelevance



how the city people warned me against

flung its taut-heart for me



flexed its dim-horizon


yet,     the painter tangles

feeling’s color as it brims from pores


you got to give it to shadows, muddy without relief

these odd-blinking-limbs          stymied-drunken-glee


I haul my typical, tapered holes to

our little convent,


housing the form of