Harry Bauld


Harry Bauld is from Medford, Massachusetts. He won the 2008 New Millenium Writings poetry prize, and his poems have appeared in Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, The Southeast Review, Verse Daily, Whiskey Island, The Binnacle, and Deliberately Thirsty (Edinburgh), among others.  He has taught and coached baseball, basketball and boxing at high schools in Vermont and New York and currently teaches in the Bronx.


—for D. Schiller

I can't touch them, you said
at breakfast. So vaginal. This ripeness
is all and then some, too
organ-orange, too pistil. Once I heard
someone call female masturbation
painting the Georgia O'Keefe.
Here is what mornings come
down to, the play of old forms
upon us. No desire, no word,
no utensil or extremity dare touch
this calligraphic stem
or the split petal of spilled strokes
too sweet for anything but the weep
of their own holy spume.

'Persimmons' had been waiting to happen for years, I now realize, born of an obsession with the painting Six Persimmons, by the 13th century Chinese monk Mu Qi (yes, it's my current screen saver), a stunning work of improvisational simplicity in greys and blacks. I've long aspired to make something from words in an American idiom that might be as allusive and oblique as that brushwork, full of articulate space and calligraphic silences. But my fascination did not extend to the actual fruit—I don't think I'd ever tasted or even really identified one—until a friend offered a few beauties one morning not long ago. Through a combination of my friend's amusing demurral and their impossibly suggestive color, I saw them as if, as the saying goes, for the first time. Real persimmons! These were and somehow were not Mu Qi's persimmons—utterly transmuted in the crucible of desire and difference: food (once again) as sex, sex as art, but art at last struck (almost) mute by the overwhelming presence of perfect ripeness.

On the Train After Leaving

The east, west, north, and the south of you.
–Cole Porter

I am some other orient. I would like
to be blind with you, to feel
my way clear, but I have eyes
only for a north where heat
is a lonely contract. Give me
some lip, I want to be able
to take it. I am a slim fit
in this compass. You can slip
away and do, Schrodinger’s Cat
on southern tour. At the next station
you might wipe my face,
but I’m trying to shed
that, afraid of almost everything:
this train window, the print of my pierced heart
on the glass, the fourth and fifth rails, getting out
of these clothes, the incense of twelve stations
to come. Your absence violates every codicil
and rider. Once, flying west into Chicago,
I watched a small cemetery near the end
of the runway pass under the wing.
Meet me there.

Sometimes for me the urge to write is stimulated most sharply by motion, or by between-ness: cab rides, long runs and swims, trains, car trips, red-eye flights. But you don't have to be death haunted to have the St. Johannes cemetery inside O'Hare Airport loom large during landing. The first time it goes by underneath, just before you touch down—if it's early or late enough, and you're having one of those Sleeping on the Wing moments (O'Hara/O'Hare—coincidence? I think not)—you don't really credit your own eyes, and you're rattled. After that, you imagine possibilities. "On the Train after Leaving" was probably at first a rather literal "whistling past the graveyard," and one of its main impulses comes from the rich sub-genre of poems of parting, from the T'ang dynasty to "Kissing Stieglitz Good Bye" by Gerald Stern.