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 clinky-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 stinky-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 linky-lick.

  • Paul Muldoon, "The Loaf" from Moy Sand and Gravel. Copyright © 2002 by Paul Muldoon. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

  • Source: Moy Sand and Gravel (2002)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I did not expect to like Poetry Out Loud, truthfully. My first year, I did not want to compete at all.Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with the program and have learned so much about poetry, performing, and expression throughout the last three years."
Gabrielle Hunt
2017 NV POL Champion