What Humans Do

October 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

The candlelit
careful screw,

the under-the-moon
shooby doo
be doo groove,

the from behind,
the sixty-nine,
the is there time,

the I need wine,
the twisted talking
dirty grind,

the Erica Jong
zipless screw,
the I-got-somethin’-

to-prove ruse,
the primal bang,
the power game,

the long play,
the itchy-ish, sudden-ish
roll in the hay,

the take me away,
the once a month
married way,

the hail mary,
the holy-joe-

my-luck hump,
the side to side
slow pump,

the grudge fuck,
the quick poke,
the hard core,

the tenderest lap
of waves on the shore,
and the gushing rushing

endless coming
of I’ve never felt
this way before

– Wendy Videlock

What humans do: congregate, conjugate, copulate.

the Heavy Dragoon’s Song

July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you want a receipt for that popular mystery,
  Known to the world as a Heavy Dragoon,
Take all the remarkable people in history,
  Rattle them off to a popular tune.

The pluck of Lord Nelson on board of the Victory
  Genius of Bismarck devising a plan —
The humour of Fielding (which sounds contradictory) —
  Coolness of Paget about to trepan —
The science of Jullien, the eminent musico —
  Wit of Macaulay, who wrote of Queen Anne —
The pathos of Paddy, as rendered by Boucicault —
  Style of the Bishop of Sodor and Man —
The dash of a D’Orsay, divested of quackery —
Narrative powers of Dickens and Thackery —
Victor Emmanuel — peak-haunting Peveril —
Thomas Aquinas, and Doctor Sacheverell —
  Tupper and Tennyson — Daniel Defoe —
  Anthony Trollope and Mister Guizot!

Take all of these elements all that is fusible
  Melt them all down in a pipkin or crucible
Set them to simmer, and take off the scum,
  And a Heavy Dragoon is the residuum!

If you want a receipt for this soldier-like paragon,
  Get at the wealth of the Czar (if you can) —
The family pride of a Spaniard from Aragon —
  Force of Mephisto pronouncing a ban —
A smack of Lord Waterford, reckless and rollicky —
  Swagger of Roderick, heading his clan —
The keen penetration of Paddington Pollaky —
  Grace of an Odalisque on a divan —
The genius strategic of Caesar or Hannibal —
Skill of Sir Garnet in thrashing a cannibal —
Flavour of Hamlet — the Stranger, a touch of him —
Little of Manfred (but not very much of him) —
  Beadle of Burlington — Richardson’s show —
  Mister Micawber and Madame Tussaud!

Take all of these elements all that is fusible
  Melt them all down in a pipkin or crucible
Set them to simmer, and take off the scum,
  And a Heavy Dragoon is the residuum!

– W. S. Gilbert

Essentially a list of mostly obscure historical figures, “the Heavy Dragoon’s Song” can be found in Patience, one of the less popular Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Even without Sullivan’s music, Gilbert’s patter song sings and skips and scatters names along the page; it almost works better without musical accompaniment because the lines already have an obvious meter and the reader can stop and swish the sounds around in the mouth (“The dash of a D’Orsay, divested of quackery” has a light almond taste that deserves to be savored). Gilbert was the master of the triple rhyme, an art that is, alas, dying.

A Song of Opposites

May 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow,
  Lethe’s weed and Hermes’ feather;
Come to-day, and come to-morrow,
  I do love you both together!
  I love to mark sad faces in fair weather;
And hear a merry laugh amid the thunder;
  Fair and foul I love together.
Meadows sweet where flames are under,
And a giggle at a wonder;
Visage sage at pantomime;
Funeral, and steeple-chime;
Infant playing with a skull;
Morning fair, and shipwreck’d hull;
Nightshade with the woodbine kissing;
Serpents in red roses hissing;
Cleopatra regal-dress’d
With the aspic at her breast;
Dancing music, music sad,
Both together, sane and mad;
Muses bright and muses pale;
Sombre Saturn, Momus hale;–
Laugh and sigh, and laugh again;
Oh the sweetness of the pain!
Muses bright, and muses pale,
Bare your faces of the veil;
Let me see; and let me write
Of the day, and of the night–
Both together: –let me slake
All my thirst for sweet heart-ache!
Let my bower be of yew,
Interwreath’d with myrtles new;
Pines and lime-trees full in bloom,
And my couch a low grass-tomb.

– John Keats

I was disappointed to discover that line 17 does not actually read “With the aspic of her breast” like I thought. Still, this little-known ode to opposites must be one of Keats’ most magical offerings.

Another list song, another hale Momus:

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