Poem of the Week, by Coleman Barks

Word Choice
– Coleman Barks

Slubby comes from the Dutch, who know a lot about mud,
in their lowdown Brueghel-dance ways.

Slubby names the miry-slick stickiness
where ducks might love sliding into a lake.

I love another wet-earth word, sillion. Firmer,
the curve of a furrow the plow has just turned over,
used only one place in poetry as far as I know.
Sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine.

I shall now display more mud-related words.
Mumbledypeg, the knife game where the one who loses
has to dig the peg out with his teeth,
the peg that has been pounded deep with the heel of the knife,
and Barry Heywood goes after it with such earth-eating ferocity
he comes up spewing soil from his dirtface that has now a center
with between his teeth like an ivory narwhal horn, the peg.

A path through tall grass after heavy rain
feels clodgy underfoot. Earth sticking to a spade
when you are digging, that piece of ground
is cledgy to work with.

Gawm is especially sticky and foul-smelling mud.
A wagon axle could get gormed up with gawm.
Gubber is black-rot anaerobic material,
no breath letout-tatall.

A clod is fairly coherent earthen wonderment.
A paunch, among other things, is what a cow does
with its hoof to a clod. They paunch about
crumbling the plowed field to mudproper.
Muddling through, there is a thick pudding
you call stodge. Stug is more watery.
Silt you already know, very fine.
People used to patch their houses with stug.
I have a place I stug.

What do you call the little ridges of parallel tunnels
that mud daubers make? Toy Quonset dobberdoms.
I am become a scholar of mud.

Pug is a kind of loam, the tacky yellow sort.
A slough is a mudhole,
though it may have deep places and be connected to a river.

Smeery means a wet mud-surface, not clodgy, or slobbed up.
Slob and slub, more thick-mud words.
Slub will take your shoe off and keep it.

With these mud-words you can trade vowels around,
because that is the world they are in.

He come home all of a slub.
He slubbed home through the stodge.

Sleech is bottom sediment spread for manure.
Slurry, mud diluted to cream.

Spannel means to make the indoors like the out, as a dog might,
splushing in the slough, then spanneling through the kitchen.

And since embodiment is the river’s use of mud,
to scud the springflood with fleering mist is joy.

For more information on Coleman Barks, please click here: http://www.colemanbarks.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

Manuscript Critique Service:


  1. herhimnbryn · April 17, 2013

    Oh I do like this! Thankyou for posting it. I saw ‘sillion’ and knew. Isn’t it grand when one word brings up another poem before your eyes?

    Such words for the texture of mud. I want some mud now. I hope it rains again today!


  2. Lucy · April 21, 2013

    Mud, mud, glorious mud!


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