Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Word Slinging

Here's a poem I keep tucked in a folder I call "Poems I Like." It's by Rod Jellema.

Because I Never Learned the Names of Flowers

It is moonlight and white where
I slink away from my cat-quiet blue rubber truck
and motion myself to back it up to your ear.
I peel back the doors of the van and begin
to hushload into your sleep
the whole damn botanical cargo of Spring.

Sleeper, I whisk you
Trivia and Illium, Sweet Peristalsis, Flowering Delirium.

Sprigs of Purple Persiflage and Lovers' Leap, slips
of Hysteria stick in my hair. I gather clumps of Timex,
handfuls of Buttertongues, Belly buttons and Bluelets.

I come with Trailing Nebula, I come with Late-Blooming
Paradox, with Creeping Pyromania, Pink Apoplex,
and Climbing Solar Plexus,

whispering: Needlenose,
Juice Cup, Godstem, Nexus, Sex-us, Condominium.

I admire the wordplay in this poem, the sexiness of it. It feels romantic and fanciful. Mostly I love the musicality of it. This is a poem to first just enjoy and then study and learn from. I like the made-up words like cat-quiet and hushload. The beauty of the flower names in line 7. I'm not much of a gardener so am not sure if those are real names or made-up ones, but they are fun to say, to roll around in the mouth. What nice alliteration in Buttertongues, Belly buttons and Bluelets. And the rhyming of Paradox, Apoplex, Plexus, Nexus, Sex-us (surely this is invention!). And the playfulness of that final Condominium which makes no sense but nevertheless enchants and seduces. Wouldn't it be lovely to be that Sleeper and have someone whispering all this in your ear as you nod off?

Prompt idea: Focus on an outdoor scene, something full of nature rather than man-made objects. Brainstorm a quick column list of all you see. To the right of your list, after each word, add some related words, a made-up word, a rhyming word (or alliterative or near rhyming). Imagine an auditor. Then drawing from your word hoard, write a poem delivered very privately to that person. No one else is listening.

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