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


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