Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Soloist: Dandelionslayer

My man done called in sick yesterday, 
an' this is what he said:

Well, I woke up this mornin',
sinuses full to the brim.
Yeah, I woke up this mornin',
sinuses full to the brim.
I gots to call in to work now,
'cause you don't want my phlegm.

I got the blues,
I got the stuffy head blues.

Gonna drink lots of liquids
whether or not I'm feelin' thirsty.
Gonna drown those blues away now,
at least Wednesday and Thursday,

Cause I got the blues,
I got the stuffy head blues.

Take it away, Jim . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Words beginning with "rh" occupy six pages in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.  There are more than I expected, and some of them are rather fascinating.  They mostly come from Greek words, of course.  The Greek rhopalos was a club or tapered cudgel.  This primitive weapon has lent its name to the "marginal sensory structures in various jellyfish," and an Indian aphid.  Not to mention a literary device.

Literarily, rhophalic describes a passage "in which each word contains one syllable more than the word immediately preceding it." 

I recently attempted a poem based on the Fibonacci sequence, where the number of syllables per line increase quickly.  (Interestingly, the number sequence itself has poetic origins.)  Five-syllable lines are easy for me, but eight and thirteen were tough.  Increasing syllables in each word, though, that's pretty challenging. 

  • I'm writing sentences multiplying syllabically.
  • Walk softly, carrying knuckle-dusters empoweringly.
  • Peach apple banana chirimoya marionberry macadamia-nut
Three or four syllables are plenty for most words in English, even the interesting ones.  Sure, " supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*" would be a wonderful climax, but what thirteen-syllable word could precede it?  I find myself relying on hyphenated terms and tenuous adverbs.  (Good thing I'm not a member of Writers Against Adding Any Adverbs.)  Perhaps rhophalicism is easier in agglutinative tongues like German.  And prosody does not always require complete sentences.

Can you wax rhophalic?  Give me your best shot.

*In the OED since 1986!  Look here for origin and meaning.

Monday, September 22, 2014


in the wind
clinging to your branch
majestic evergreens look on,
unshaken by the season's change, wait to see you fall

My son's third-grade teacher introduced us to Fibonacci poems on a field trip.  My son was more interested in the numbers, and in drawing pictures of his subject.  I hope he'll find some words, too.