lipstick

Evaporated

Fanny Howe - Basic Science (0'59"). This one has me a bit tongue-tied (a good sign). I'm captured by the first line, with its joke-like set up, and surprised by the second. Is it sweet, this post-mortem possessiveness? A memento mori "I thee wed"? Or just creepy: ownership dogging one even after death? However you resolve it (probably, given the pace at which the voicing unfolds, you don't), the vow shakes the corpses from their litters and sends them to scavenging "at the surface of the earth," first just impoverished, then indentured to "the living with names and fortunes." Though soulless, their expropriated fecundity keeps "creation going," a death's-hand caress at the back of every animated thing (another to file under: "Am I that?"). • The poem consists mainly of monosyllabic words (82%), so the polysyllables stand out: cadaver (4 times), evaporated, maculate [Lat. macula, spot], fertility, creation, properties, animate. From the fifth audia forward, much of the major lexis crystallizes around the approximant /l/, which figures in 19 of the 133 syllables in the latter 36 seconds of the poem: souls, love, litters, let, living, maculate, denials, daily, sold, fertility, living, lovers, lover, lover, still, love, well, like, cold (ten of these are initial occurrences, three medial, six terminal). If this phonemic redundancy tickles the ear almost subliminally, the foregrounded variation of the syntactical pattern from audia two ("cadaver / you're my cadaver") in audia eleven ("lover, I'm you're lover") lends a shivering coherence to the whole.

More Howe at PennSound. Bio at Poets.org. Her Selected Poems. Fall 2005 interview with Leonard Schwartz. Michelle Detorie's review of The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life.

Tuesday -- 20 June 2006 -- permalink

The Lipstick of Noise is a product of the Third Factory • Inspired by the music blogs • And by Paul Blackburn's reel-to-reel deck. Intending to make good use of PENNSound and other sources of digital audio files of poetry • Comments welcomeXML.