Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 14, Number 1
Copyright © 2019
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
by Richard Jones
Maillol’s twenty bold women
in the boxwood gardens of the Tuileries,
Winged Victory crying “Freedom!” in the Louvre,
an unnamed robed beauty weeping
over a grave at Père Lachaise—
these are the teachers of my senses,
these figures in stone, marble, and bronze.
And so now it seems natural, almost inevitable
as I walk past the shop windows,
to take note of the mannequins, too,
those wooden figures behind the glass.
In Paris I’ve seen mannequins painted gold,
like the street mimes with gold faces and clothes
who stand in the Latin Quarter on pedestals
like statues, as still as a mannequin in a window.
On Boulevard Saint-Michel I saw mannequins
whose faces were covered in black bags,
and on the Rue de Rivoli, mannequins
carrying their wooden heads in their hands,
like Saint Denis at Sacré-Cœur.
Female mannequins have long, elegant necks.
Child mannequins sometimes have lights
glowing inside their hollowed bodies.
Articulated mannequins move, like puppets—
a tuxedoed mannequin leaps over a black-paper puddle.
On Avenue Montaigne, I stood outside a men’s store,
eating a strawberry tart
as I gazed at a mannequin’s head imprisoned in a bird cage,
until I remembered 1938
and the Exposition internationale du surrealisme,
when all the surrealists presented mannequins—
one with its wooden head trapped in a birdcage!
The surrealists loved mannequins,
their silence and mystery.
Magritte painted a wooden head sky blue
with clouds drifting across the face
and called it The Future of Statues.
Man Ray adorned faces with glass tears;
Dali covered bodies with spoons and butterflies.
Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and Joan Miró
saw in mannequins the soul of humankind—
mute, suppressed, sexual longings,
hidden, subconscious urges,
all our taboos concealed and exposed.
After the 1938 exhibition,
the surrealists immediately returned all the mannequins
to the stores from which they had been borrowed,
the art works transformed back into ordinary objects,
the most surreal gesture of all.
THE PLACE DES VOSGES
by Richard Jones
In Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel, Nausea,
the hero’s existential awakening takes place
on a bench beneath the boughs of chestnut trees
in a park much like the Place des Vosges.
Antoine Roquentin feels the cold shiver of nothingness
against the wild, unstoppable abundance of life
he found meaningless. But I find
the fountain and the branches in blossom
and this wooden bench bathed in bright sunshine
a place of perfect rest, a blessing, a gift,
and unbutton my coat to let my spirit breathe
and take flight in the afternoon breeze.
On the grass, on blankets scattered here and there,
people laze and lounge and laugh,
they have bread and wine,
they share stories about their dreams.
I’d say they haven’t a care in the world
if I thought for a moment that was true,
but that is exactly what makes them beautiful,
weighty, and meaningful,
the way their joy transcends and surpasses suffering,
so that this existential moment
is something they celebrate, lifting full glasses
and, I’d like to think, remembering Sartre,
who believed in neither love nor joy
and wrote nothingness, contingency, anguish, and nausea,
though he also believed,
as I do, sitting with my pen and blue notebook
on a bench in the Place des Vosges,
in writing the yes of a poem.
by Richard Jones
A golden sphere floats over the pond
in the Jardin des Tuileries, where
on hot summer days children sail
their miniature wooden schooners,
the pristine sails as white as clouds.
And beyond the shimmering water,
an obelisk’s pointed gold pyramid
looks much like the sharp pencil-tip
with which I take notes and sketch.
Beside the obelisk, a single woman
in a stylish red coat pauses to study
the mysteriously floating orb-like sun,
or coolly note, as a Parisian might,
the man on the other side of the pond
falling in love and writing this poem.
Richard Jones is the author of seven books from Copper
Canyon Press, including The Correct Spelling & Exact
Meaning and The Blessing. Editor of the literary journal
Poetry East and its many anthologies—such as Paris, The
Last Believer in Words, and Bliss—Jones also edits the free
worldwide poetry app, “The Poet’s Almanac.” His new book
of poems, Stranger on Earth, was published by Copper
Canyon in June 2018.
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