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Lay for the Day
28th July

1887: Marcel Duchamp is born in Blainville, France. Although his works are few, he was one of the most influential artists of the last century, partly because of his distrust of the received idea of a work of art. He introduced the ‘ready-made’ or found object to the gallery with his Bicycle Wheel of 1914, which was a bicycle wheel. The most famous of his ready-mades are the Fountain of 1917, which is a porcelain urinal standing on its back plate and crudely signed “R. Mutt” in black paint; and L.H.O.O.Q., which is a print of the Mona Lisa with a moustache pencilled on her lip and those letters written underneath. Said out loud in French they sound like ‘Elle a chaud au queue’ – ‘She has a hot tail’.
Duchamp could be called a part of both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although he never ‘belonged’ to either, and steered clear of artistic circles generally for most of his life. He devoted much of his energy to playing and writing about chess, in which he competed at the international tournament level.
28th July is also commemorated quite widely on the internet as the day in 1586 that potatoes were brought to England by Sir Walter Raleigh. I haven't been able to discover how this factoid got its start in life, but there is no foundation for it in history. It seems appropriate to celebrate it, then, with the poem below, by Emmuel Pond.
Emmuel Pond was born Don Plummer, in about 1999, and has been living with me on and off for a few years now. I thought his given name was an anagram of nom de plume, but it seems that an ‘r’ got substituted for one of the ‘e’s. Gradually I have learned to respect Emmuel’s poems, even though they don’t make sense, as I discovered that he puts at least as much work into them as I do into mine.


Fled storage muted and a pale file
as much knuckle as tongue, no further
tegument required or suspected, this lewd bolus
embalms our stellar regard, stuns all appetite.

If it were blue, a chlorinous speckle
exacted of the plume, torn from rule
by the somnolence of that claustral metallurgy,
all might be forborne; but not such.

The pyramid’s chopped and the long skull
split. A calendal hierograph seeps, written within
to augur its own unveiling. What persists?
Only frost, the noval obscurity of salts.

By Emmuel Pond

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

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