Search View Archive

The Crumbs


Listen, pigeon. I know you’re bored and hungry and self-hating. I know you waddle around in a dusty feathery loneliness, clucking, disconsolate, revolted at all your peers in your peer group. I know you fly sometimes, but mostly look around for bread crumbs or puke to peck at. Transform yourself. Become a dove or a sparrow. A weed, a twig in the shade, a lusty imprecation. Just quit bugging me. I have better things to do than to care about you. I have my whole life to lead.

Good or Bad?

The older Chinese lady crinkled with plastic, read an English-language pamphlet with comic book-style illustrations. I lorded it over my bench. Spanish wafted over our matching brunette heads. Chinese lady, I salute you. My neck hurts. Sinners in orange Hi-Liter bibs sweep up leafy garbage. I had straight shoulders. Now I have a Mona Lisa smile, it plays like a dreamy kid around my lips. Tingling all over: o.d. to joy. Nerves are fantastic. But the tall beautiful white-haired lady I have known forever is dying. Passing go-go boots exclaimed it. The Chinese lady seemed sad, moved on after less than two minutes. Did I think the wrong thing? Somebody has to pay. Sh! Don’t explain, just descry. I should’ve quit while I was a head, not a chest. Even the tweets of birds seem black in melancholy. Pink is a raincoat antidote on a pretty younger Chinese lady who sits down abruptly. I accidentally killed a tiny red bug on my composition book. I must perform penance. The Chinese girl laughs to herself in Chinese. Ideogram on margin. Check out the distant mountains. Bodega in the foreground. Unemployed scholar/hermit-fisherman wades through sea of traffic. Is loss more? Inkblot day.


To be a button and hold things together vs. to be a button hole trying to flap free: the older and younger sisters. The only child is a zipper. The adopted child is velcro. The twins are a snap.

Vagrant Wannabe

My keys pinched my flabby female hip. That’s why it is bad to have a home.

Similitude (or, Argument by Analogy)

Oedipus is like Diogenes. No, Oedipus is like Lear. No, Oedipus is like Antigone. No, Antigone is like the Prodigal Daughter. No, the Prodigal Daughter is like Jephthah’s Daughter. No, Jephthah’s Daughter is like Ishmael. No, Ishmael is like the Princess and the Pea. No, the Princess is like Iphigenia. No, Iphigenia is like Electra. No, Electra is like Ophelia. No, Ophelia is like John the Baptist. No, John the Baptist is like the Holy Spirit. No, the Holy Spirit is like St. Francis. No, St. Francis is like Sir Franz. No, Sir Franz is like Antigone. No, Antigone is like Prince Søren. No, Prince Søren is like Kid Isaac. No, Kid Isaac is like Agnes, who is herself like Antigone.

One Reason To Be Self-Hung

Being spared. Do it, lamb.

Adoration of the Magi

In the fairy tale, the infant had an old man’s face and was wise. He could bless and thereby save them. One fellow prayed, profile against halo, fingers almost touching the infant Jesus’ pudgy left foot. Another looked down, holding his offering which resembled a pastry. The third—the one in black with the tall hat—looked away, clutching his gift tightly. Guilt or doubt? But only his face was an echo in mood and angle of the infant’s. As if he alone also saw the suffering ahead (i.e., to their right). Behind him, to his left, a shadowy dark figure, head bowed, servile, perhaps leaning on a crutch or holding the back of the Virgin’s chair. Gentle lyrical figures on the other side of the Magi. Vertically bisecting the painting, a more everyday scene: one man gesturing with thumb, one raising a hand in surprise while on his other hand sits a bird (brownish-black and orange), two kids looking off (in boredom, not in knowing melancholy), and the horses. Two ribby dogs, one reddish-brown, one white, along the bottom edge. Sassetta should have painted one of the kids seeing and knowing, as I, Agatha, saw and knew, when I was 3. Now I am 11 and frightfully precocious. The sad Magus does look Russian; which one is he, Balthasar? That is one of my pet names. I have to go to lunch now with my Mama. Tuna fish sandwiches for both of us and a butterscotch sundae for myself alone. Schrafft’s has old ladies. They don’t know about the power of His suffering extremities.

St. Minna

Wasn’t I supposed to be a saint? That is why this life seems so wrong and clumsy. But I was too weak and selfish, I let God down. Now I inquire, Is it too late for me?

St. Minna sharing her tuna sandwich with a beggar. St. Minna giving her hoodie to a beggar (a poor knight).

St. Martin, St. Francis, and St. Minna: each first experienced his calling while giving his cloak to a mendicant. The following night, each had a dream. One of Christ, another of a celestial palace. Minna dreamt of a divine tenement vestibule.

St. Minna heals the leg sores of a bum.

St. Minna cures the toothache of a geezer.

St. Minna stops the diarrhea of an infant.

I feel a new professional compulsion, a Sturm und Drang of spiritual activity. Watch for me on street corners, avenues, boulevards and arched bridges. You can recognize me by my long uncombed black hair and stringy bangs. Also by my limp, which, in its slow and rolling motion, is not unalluring to strangers, so I have heard. Not accidentally, Minna means love.

Interpretation of Italics

Italics can be used either to deploy a word emphatically or not to use it at all, i.e., merely to quote it or say something about it. Therefore italics represent the two purest spiritual modes: fervor and detachment.

However, the use of italics for a title suggests a third spiritual mode: invention. Is that the divinely impure mode?


Hide. Hide in your room. Don’t let them discover you. Turn into a strand of coppery brown hair and lie on the floor amid other snippets, dust and dirt. How could they single you out?

This place is disgusting, a sty.

Look for the copper lining. The frayed brown lining of your plaid jacket, with the soft strands waving from its cuff like the hair of a child or an old lady.

The young mothers take their children to school. I, Minna, sit on a bench, stupefied by leaves. A flying pigeon almost smacks into my forehead.

I dislike children. Unless I am one; then I like one.

Incidentally, Minna means diminutive will helmet. When it doesn’t mean love. 


Mina Pam Dick

MINA PAM DICK (aka Hildebrand Pam Dick, Nico Pam Dick et al.) is a writer, artist, and philosopher living in New York City. She received a BA from Yale and an MFA in Painting as well as an MA in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. Her writing has appeared in Tantalum and BOMB; her philosophical work has appeared in a collection published by the International Wittgenstein Symposium (Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria). Her visual art has been shown in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and New York City. "The Crumbs" is an excerpt from DELINQUENT, her first book, which is due out from Futurepoem in November.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2009

All Issues