This is a poem I wrote about Paul Muldoon. I was in an honors poetry class back in 2003 at the University of Arizona. We had guest poets each week. Carloyn Forche came one week and she was staggeringly honest, smart and impressive. Paul Muldoon, however, really struck me as pretentious as hell and very uninteresting. In addition, I was (and am) not much impressed with his poetry, even though I’ve been told I ought to be. At any event, I wrote this poem as a slight parody of my own. I imitated him while I was making fun of him.

The Hands of Paul Muldoon: Thoughts on Paul Muldoon

The hands of Paul Muldoon
handled me like a membrane of
remembered promises half broken;
a mirror between the sheets of
stubborn unfired synapses that have
occupied the space inside my brain.
I was waiting for you.


The hands of Paul Muldoon handed over to
my historical contextual stupidity a reasonable riot
of sound
and sight and word and gentle cover
to the sheets of rock.
I am all right for you, Paul Muldoon.

I was polarized and synthesized beyond my ken,
like a small nugget in the brain of the hand me down
poetry I sued to smell like glue in the barn of the
wet days
beyond which there was no music or hay
or accordian, but only a raw cut across the palm from the twine.
I was inventing you.


I invented the voice and the breath and the hair,
and did he not notice my handheld camera sitting there
inside the eye of my bales of golden dream? This much I have never known nor do I know nor will ever know:
I am not as brave as I might like to be.
I flattered and fluttered and stuttered over you.


What is a poet as we sit remembering the open handed
easiness with which we read too much into too little,
and then miss the little that is much?
Round about the
Childhood of your Ireland in a country that is not so Catholic as
it is filled with comfort food and rotten guys riding on the backs of someone else’s past.
I was with no history.


Or perhaps the history that was yours
became my own, Paul Muldoon.
I am not sure.
We share the bond of music
and the dark places swing inside the memory of it all.
I am your memory,
just as you are the planetary constellation
of my smoke signals.
I dreamed you.


You signed my book and did not look into the camera of my eye, those dark places reveal the light
but oh…do not go there this night as I am sitting
pondering by “dribs and drabs” the scintillating starting
point of when I fell from grace.
Your fantasy did not encapsulate me.


“This much I know” Paul Muldoon
that the secret of the poet is not the mirror between the sheets, but
the sheets themselves.
They waiver and blow in a gray and sunny sky like reflected memory or the wink of a bird that on it’s death journey
will once more fly.
I will fly, Paul Muldoon.