Jeff Wall Untangling


Here is a poem I wrote after viewing Jeff Wall’s large photograph of the same name in the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC, back in 1997.   It appears in my book Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky:



Greasy yellow hose, thick as a child’s arm,

blue rope thick as a dogwood trunk,

white rope grey with dirt, thick as a child’s arm.


Hopeless tangle on the workroom floor,

writhing tangle on the workroom floor,

writhing serpents on the workroom floor,

distinguished by the colors of the rope,


writhing serpents on the workroom floor,

blue intestines on the workroom floor,

old sea sailings on the workroom floor,

yellow hose thick as a child’s arm,

frayed and broken ends of chestnut mane

together tangled into argument

of complex sentences, equivocations,

qualifications all in a mess

on the workroom floor.


Strippers and sanders on the shelf,

unplugged witnesses of argument

say: how will it be undone?

Man attentive to untangling

stares without strategy.








Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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