Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Poem Beginning with a Line by Wallace Stevens

It is the word pejorative that hurts

and the word sibling
that makes us lisp and wince
and the word raspberry that puzzles us
with its absence of rasp
and the word secular which
pertains to centuries
as fleet as milliseconds
in eternity's view --
the word subtle,
a rogue with a sly, furtive glare --
the word vehicular, one
of Deborah's favorites, and the word blithe
like an embarrassing lick on the end
of a leash. And vehement
is spearmint-flavored, unlike government,
and tongues wag like tails
of the unforeseen.

It is the word bowdlerize
that bamboozles, confuses, and throws
us for a loop. It is the word
boycott wearing a two-horned
helmet like a post-modern
Viking. It is the word memento
which news-anchors mispronounce,
and the word Kennebunkport

over which Mom always stumbles.

Oblivious gets our goat if it's seen
without of. It is averse from
that goes about town
impeccably tailored.
Vouchsafe and deign collide
like clanging thuribles. Hallowed asks for
and receives three syllables.
It is the word silent
that rhymes with
listen.

It is the word barbarian
that causes us to flinch.
It is the word avuncular
that coughs and smokes a pipe.
It is the word hirsute that plays a flute.

It is the word unkempt that sounds
so participial! It is the word
inchoate, cold as March,
that makes us search for April's
burgeonings.


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