Poems by Russell Edson

The Wounded Breakfast

    A huge shoe mounts up from the horizon, squealing and grinding forward on small wheels, even as a man sitting to breakfast on his veranda is suddenly engulfed in a great shadow almost the size of the night.
    He looks up and sees a huge shoe ponderously mounting out of the earth.  Up in the unlaced ankle-part an old woman stands at a helm behind the great tongue curled forward; the thick laces dragging like ships' rope on the ground as the huge thing squeals and grinds forward; children everywhere, they look from the shoelace holes, they crowd about the old woman, even as she pilots this huge shoe over the earth. . .
    Soon the huge shoe is descending the opposite horizon, a monstrous snail squealing and grinding into the earth. . .
    The man turns to his breakfast again, but sees it's been wounded, the yolk of one of his eggs is bleeding. . .

The Automobile

A man had just married an automobile.

    But I mean to say, said his father, that the automobile is not a person because it is something different.

    For instance, compare it to your mother.  Do you see how it is different from your mother?  Somehow it seems wider, doesn't it?  And besides, your mother wears her hair differently.

    You ought to try to find something in the world that looks like mother.

    I have mother, isn't that enough that looks like mother?  Do I have to gather more mothers?

    They are all old ladies who do not in the least excite any wish to procreate, said the son.

    But you cannot procreate with an automobile, said father.

    The son shows father an ignition key.  See, here is a special penis which does with the automobile as the man with the woman; and the automobile gives birth to a place far from this place, dropping its puppy miles as it goes.

    Does that make me a grandfather? said father.

    That makes you where you are when I am far away, said the son.

    Father and mother watch an automobile with a just married sign on it growing smaller in a road.

The Fall

    There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.

    To which they said then go into the yard and do not grow in the living-room as your roots may ruin the carpet.

    He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped his leaves.

    But his parents said look it is fall.

A Cottage in the Wood

    He has built himself a cottage in a wood, near where the insect rubs its wings in song.
    Yet, without measure, or proper sense of scale, he has made the cottage too small.  He realizes this when only his hand will fit through the door.  He tries the stairs to the second floor with his fingers, but his arm wedges in the entrance.  He wonders how he will cook his dinner.  He might get his hands through the kitchen window.  But even so, he will not be able to cook enough on such a tiny stove.
    He shall also lie unsheltered in the night, even though a bed with its covers turned down waits for him in the cottage.
    He lies down and curls himself around the cottage, listening to the insect that rubs its wings in song.

The Broken Daughter

    His daughter had broken.  He took her to be repaired. . .If you'll just pump-up her backside, and rewire her hair. . .

    This girl needs a whole new set of valves, and look at all those collision marks around her face, said the mechanic.

    I just want her fixed-up enough to use around the house; for longer trips I have my wife.

Cinderella's Life at the Castle

    After Cinderella married the prince she turned her attention to minutiae, using her glass slipper as a magnifying lens.
    When at court she would wear orange peels and fish tins, and other decorous rubbish as found in back of the castle.

    You are making me very nervous, said the prince.
    But Cinderella continued to look at something through her glass slipper.
    Did you hear me? said the prince.
    Cinderella's mouth hung open as she continued to look at something through her glass slipper.
    Did you hear me, did you hear me, did you hear me? screamed the prince.

A Journey Through the Moonlight

    In sleep when an old man's body is no longer aware of its boundaries, and lies flattened by gravity like a mere of wax in its bed. . .It drips down to the floor and moves there like a tear down a cheek. . .Under the back door  into the silver meadow, like a pool of sperm, frosty under the moon, as if in his first nature, boneless and absurd.

    The moon lifts him up into its white field, a cloud shaped like an old man, porous with stars.
    He floats through high dark branches, a corpse tangled in a tree on a river.

Summer, Forty Years Later

    He struggles out of a closet where his mother had hung him forty years ago.
    She didn't understand children; she probably thought he was something made of cloth.
    He thinks he as waited long enough for her to understand children, even though he is no longer a child.
    After forty years a man has a right to seek the hallway; after all, he might even hope for the front door--and who knows, perhaps even a Nobel Prize for patience!

    From the front porch he sees that the midday sky is darker than he remembered it; the green of the lawn and trees has also darkened:  too many nights, too many coats of varnish. . . .
    This is not the same summer, the color is gone. . .

    . . . That little boy who is always passing the house with his wagon has turned into a little old man collecting garbage. . .