by Maxwell Redder

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Crumpled Paper

Inspired by Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways
of Looking at a Blackbird


Crumpled and torn the paper’s fluidity,
like a loincloth draped against breasts,
stiffened, becoming  jagged, rigid, recyclable.


Performing gymnastics, a piece of plain white
dropped from a vibrantly checkered hot-air balloon
wouldn’t crumple.  Unmatched agility, nimble
and silky, tumbling through the air, correctly
catching wind and landing without a corner
bent — earning a perfect ten.


Made of native wood, the antique cigar box
contained a pamphlet of  slanderous propaganda
against “Negro-kind.”  Attempting to crumple
the paper, it crumbled to brittle flakes.


Orphaned idea, will you be retrieved
from the waste and your fibrous
pressed back to faithful fruition?


Immaculate geometry!  Buckminster would exhaust
into dust calculating your perfect irregularities.
Crumpled sheet… soft dunes; your antithesis.


Children bat a crumpled ball
avoiding the teacher’s lesson.


Crumpled sheet, you are the pantomime
of tragedy.  Like nirvana, you must seek
to be extinguished.  Fire be your refuge.


Shaped like a heart, a human heart,
the college-ruled reds and blues are veins.
Scribbles: the path of cells flowing.
Crumpled euphoria.  Crumpled foregoing.
Crumpled nostalgia.


Poverty evokes curious creativity.
Gorgeously anomalous; spray-painted and glittered,
crumpled paper balls transform
into Christmas tree ornaments.


Those whom avoid the can,
a graveyard of crumpled warriors,
continue to describe eucalyptus
and all its scent.


Unfolded, the crumpled sheet resembles
the cracked face of an elderly Navajo.


Air between the inside walls are a springboard
allowing the tightly crumpled mass to bounces
inches high.


Better than a cracked eggshell for an artist
to interpret light, the plain white
crumpled then unfolded mountain-scape
consummates contrast.

The Scaffolding


Wavering like smoke from a blown out wick
and defending a line of reason as straight
as the tail from a jabbering snot-faced pug,
I dragged a Dominican and exhaled rings.
Her giggle chirped.  Our cabernet cheeks
accepted the exceptionally warm winter
breeze through the window as a savior,
then she asked me about the scaffolding.


I was shocked from its landing!  A honeybee
in winter?  Strolling decrepitly across the wing
I painted previously, up to the pale blue
background, it stopped.  Forever.  It remained
as a sacrifice to the bug kingdom for days
before wind or rain ripped its tightly gripped
claws from the cinderblock, sending it away
to return into dirt with the dried up leaves.


Dodging like a fencer to a mediocre strike,
I caught the wound before its jab smeared
me like an egg yolk.  Standing twenty high,
I could feel her asking before she did:
“why grasshoppers?” Terrified with cheeks
blushing pinot pinks, I replied for the first time:
“A memoriam… to my grandmother.”
Contented, she left.  I thanked the honeybee.

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