Paul Muldoon: So, this is a poem called The Loaf. It's set somewhat in the house that I live in in New Jersey, a house built in 1750 or thereabouts in that era.
When they were building a house, they incorporated huge amounts of horse hair into the wall to bind the plaster, so that's a feature of this poem which is really, which is essentially about a hole in a wall and a range of sensations through it. Appearing in it are some of the Irish navigational canal workers who built the Delaware and Raritan canal. That's about it. There is a little nonsense and a little nonsense refrain, or something close to it.
When I put my finger to the hole they've cut for a dimmer switch
in a wall of plaster stiffened with horsehair
it seems I've scratched a two-hundred-year-old itch
with a pink and a pink and a pinkie-pick.
When I put my ear to the hole I'm suddenly aware
of spades and shovels turning up the gain
all the way from Raritan to the Delaware
with a clink and a clink and a clinkie-click.
When I put my nose to the hole I smell the floodplain
of the canal after a hurricane
and the spots of green grass where thousands of Irish have lain
with a stink and a stink and a stinkie-stick.
When I put my eye to the hole I see one holding horse dung to the rain
in the hope, indeed, indeed,
of washing out a few whole ears of grain
with a wink and a wink and a winkie-wick.
And when I do at last succeed
in putting my mouth to the horsehair-fringed niche
I can taste the small loaf of bread he baked from that whole seed
with a link and a link and a linkie-lick.
Recorded on: Jan 30, 2008