“Nude Descending a Staircase” – Duchamp / Kennedy
“Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2“ (1912)
Nude Descending a Staircase
Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.
We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh—
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.
One woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair,
Collects her motions into shape.
in my class on Modern Poetry on the
Internet they complained that both
Duchamp and Kennedy were
maybe I too am
read my response
“I thought the poem was hot, and I’m not even a heterosexual, it renders voluptuous the female body, as the female body should be rendered, and, again, I’m not even a heterosexual, how can a heterosexual man not tremble at the “snowing flesh, / a gold of lemon, root and rind,”, the “constant thresh of thigh on thigh”, the very “swinging air / that parts to let her parts go by.”, by the time she gets to the “final stair” you’re jelly
women have their own pornography, have you seen “The Bridges of Madison County“
I also love Duchamp’s painting, all shimmering gold and glittering, all panels of incandescent light, his “Nude” could descend my staircase any day, despite my counterintuitive position, for which information you can again read above
psst: poets are supposed to defy conventions,
watch me, poets know we’ve got nothing
Without the title, I wouldn’t have understood the painting. Without the poem I wouldn’t have loved the painting. They complement each other. A poet being able to capture the meaning artistically, and so they are in harmony.