Friday, October 12, 2012

perusing

This week Daisy entered a writing contest at figment.com for which she had to provide an alibi absolving her of the murder of an unbeloved fiction editor named Herman Q. Mildew. To our surprise and delight Miss Google-It asked from her seat in the library-lounge of our new home, “Do we have a dictionary?"

Ha! Do we have a dictionary?! We ARGUED about how many of them to pack and move to the new house! Not only that, Fiona knew where to find one. Daisy proceeded to make rather good use of the Collins English Dictionary (inscribed FG Oct '85). You can heart her submission here if you register for a figment account, and then she might win dinner in New York with Jon Scieszka.

Now, trawling through my poetry files in a place with no internet connection, my wish comes true and I find a poem I forgot I had ever archived. How timely, how tasty, how fine to find myself

“in the candy store of language,…sweet compendium
of candy bars—Butterfingers, Mounds, and M&Ms—
packed next to the tripe and gizzards, trim and tackle
of butchers and bakers, the painter's brush and spackle,
quarks and black holes of physicists' theory.”
Do step in…
******************************

Ode on Dictionaries | Barbara Hamby


A-bomb is how it begins with a big bang on page
__one, a calculator of sorts whose centrifuge
begets bedouin, bamboozle, breakdance, and berserk,
__one of my mother's favorite words, hard knock
clerk of clich├ęs that she is, at the moment going ape
__the current rave in the fundamentalist landscape
disguised as her brain, a rococo lexicon
__of Deuteronomy, Job, gossip, spritz, and neocon
ephemera all wrapped up in a pop burrito
__of movie star shenanigans, like a stray Cheeto
found in your pocket the day after you finish the bag,
__tastier than any oyster and champagne fueled fugue
gastronomique you have been pursuing in France
__for the past four months. This 82-year-old's rants
have taken their place with the dictionary I bought
__in the fourth grade, with so many gorgeous words I thought
I'd never plumb its depths. Right the first time, little girl,
__yet here I am still at it, trolling for pearls,
Japanese words vying with Bantu in a goulash
__I eat daily, sometimes gagging, sometimes with relish,
kleptomaniac in the candy store of language,
__slipping words in my pockets like a non-smudge
lipstick that smears with the first kiss. I'm the demented
__lady with sixteen cats. Sure, the house stinks, but those damned
mice have skedaddled, though I kind of miss them, their cute
__little faces, the whiskers, those adorable gray suits.
No, all beasts are welcome in my menagerie, ark
__of inconsolable barks and meows, sharp-toothed shark,
OED of the deep ocean, sweet compendium
__of candy bars—Butterfingers, Mounds, and M&Ms—
packed next to the tripe and gizzards, trim and tackle
__of butchers and bakers, the painter's brush and spackle,
quarks and black holes of physicists' theory. I'm building
__my own book as a mason makes a wall or a gelding
runs round the track—brick by brick, step by step, word by word,
__jonquil by gerrymander, syllabub by greensward,
swordplay by snapdragon, a never-ending parade
__with clowns and funambulists in my own mouth, homemade
treasure chest of tongue and teeth, the brain's roustabout, rough
__unfurler of tents and trapezes, off-the-cuff
unruly troublemaker in the high church museum
__of the world. O mouth—boondoggle, auditorium,
viper, gulag, gumbo pot on a steamy August
__afternoon—what have you not given me? How I must
wear on you, my Samuel Johnson in a frock coat,
__lexicographer of silly thoughts, billy goat,
X-rated pornographic smut factory, scarfer
__of snacks, prissy smirker, late-night barfly,
you are the megaphone by which I bewitch the world
__or don't as the case may be. O chittering squirrel,
ziplock sandwich bag, sound off, shut up, gather your words
__into bouquets, folios, flocks of black and flaming birds.



Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is with Betsy at Teaching Young Writers. Oh PF friends, please know that I have tried to find time to visit you and comment over the last week with no success. Wish me a couple of free hours this weekend!


5 comments:

  1. Holy word wrangling, Batman - that is some poem. Ooh, this would be so much fun to perform, such juicy language and imagery! Impossible to choose a favorite line, but I do like the "candy story of language" you pulled out.

    Thanks for this one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love "you are the megaphone by which I bewitch the world." Our teens' favorite dictionary is a Merriam-Webster that features Garfield cartoons. But of all reference books, my heart belongs to the thesaurus.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved reading the entire poem aloud - I have an ongoing romance with words (as I also wrestle with it on occasion), and this lovely poetry is a celebration of all that is good with wordswordswords - thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My favorite line, "slipping words in my pockets like a non-smudge
    lipstick that smears with the first kiss." Brilliant and really fun to read aloud. I was so disappointed to see that while I was reading it everyone else in my house was busy. I kept looking up to see if anyone else heard what I read, so fun.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderful poem! I wish you some free hours, and wish myself the same. Last week I didn't even get to read all the posts, and the few I read were on Thursday night. This week I am grabbing some time alone on Sunday morning...

    ReplyDelete