“Art & Poetry” reads the cover of Mudfish 15, with an impressionistic watercolor of a man treading water in a swimming pool; on the back is a watercolor of trees, a blue mountain, purple fields, a pink sky, all conveyed beautifully by Paul Wuenshe with a few deft brush strokes. Also deft are the poems inside, which can be as short as three lines, or a paragraph or two; many contained in a single page, some several pages.
There is a good deal of art, though it is mostly black and white and only miniature versions of the “real thing.” The poetry is colorful, in verse or prose; terse or magnanimous with language. All serious poetry, nothing academic – no references to Greek gods or long-dead Roman poets – nothing absolutely shocking or off-the-wall, but very down-to-earth and heavenly themes.
The woes of an unpublished writer are captured witheringly by David Myers, “Thirteen years and I’m still dragging around / that daydream optimism of youth / like a half-dead carcass.” There’s a thrilling show of the endurance of unadulterated love, as in Ron Thomas’s “My Grandmother’s Hands”: “blue-veined spotted brown over / thin onionskin // Tipped up on her pillow / at 94.” Or the caustic irony of “Quiet, Please,” by Donald Illich: “When I was born / my parents gave me a book, / ‘So. You’re Going to Die.’”
Then there is the masterwork, a long miraculous piece by Ronald Wardall, “That July Night in Budapest,” written as between two people: “I am home and can at last write you / instead of going around like a mad man / making notes to myself.” Several pieces of well-crafted fiction also reside inside as “excerpts” or “prose.”Mudfish 15 is definitely the real thing.