Farthingale and flour glue,
catamaran and kangaroo,
lamplit lizard, croquet pie,
tyrant’s glare and jam on rye––
there is nothing I can do
when words come marching two-by-two
but grab a pen to herd them in,
then quiet down their awful din
by separating them with commas.
Sitting here in my pajamas,
I refuse to start my day
in any other sort of way
than stacking words into neat piles,
sorting them by usage styles.
Verbs in rows where they might jostle
nouns like cupcake and apostle.
Adjectives like proud and pretty
aggravating, stuffy, petty––
have to line up in a row
and go where I tell them to go!
Sometimes I feel it is absurd,
how I imprison every word,
take it from its family
to serve me here on bended knee.
Do my bidding, tell my tale,
imprisoned here in each poem’s jail
’til other writers come along
to use that word in book or song.
Then once more the word’s set free
to go where it wants to be.
We pass each word—a bouncing ball––
to be exchanged between us all.
The words that Ogden Nash has used?
The very ones that I’ve abused.
Walt Whitman owned not one word more
than the pile in my store
of wordy possibilities,
to use however I may please.
I gather words from here and there––
words stark and silly, profound, bare.
The order that I put them in,
how often they appear and when
is the power I execute––
the sword I wield, the horn I toot.
I crack the whip and words line up.
“Naughty” shoulders “new” and “pup.”
“Sand” drifts over “bird” and “sea”
as words flow in to be with me.
New words invade my memory,
augmenting “seen” with what I see,
so old stories change a bit
accordingly, as I see fit.
History is made and changed,
altered, prettified, deranged
by new words slipping in to alter
facts where memory might falter.
The gore of war is changed to glory
as time steps in to tell the story.
The power of words might then be seen
to coat facts with nostalgia’s sheen.
A simple word like “maybe” might
distill the impact and the plight
of those whose suffering and pain
should be remembered as a stain
on the world’s humanity.
“May have been” should never be
confused with “was” in history.
Those of us who bandy letters,
using words to joust with betters
sometimes with hilarity,
need also heed their verity.
For words I fear are spoken in vain
if truth is altered to entertain.
The Prompt: Not Lemonade. When life gives you lemons… make something else. Tell us about a time you used an object or resolved a tricky situation in an unorthodox way.