For John D.
fecund, moribund, quincunx
rhizome, rissole, piss-hole in the snow
phenom, pheromone, genome
lissom, blossom, possum.
This poem is all about sound, association and perhaps, memory. The first three lines are an homage to the sound of ‘un’. The phrase -“fecund moribundity, moribund fecundity” – was uttered by my friend, John Damery (John D.) during a discussion about the music of Neil Diamond – his oeuvre, his place in the pantheon. This was some time ago but it has always stuck in my head, it has a brevity and clarity that could only have been brought on by the consumption of 5 or 6 pints and the ingestion of greasy chicken. After a long legal battle (not really) he has recently granted me permission to use it in a poem.
The fourth line is the workhorse of the poem, the engine, the poem’s midfield general. It inverts the ‘mo’ from the first 3 lines to create the ‘om’ that dominates the last two lines. it also introduces ‘iss’ which makes an appearance in the last line. As for “piss-hole in the snow”, I defy anyone to find a finer example of bathos . The fifth line is all about ‘om” but note the clever inversion back to ‘mo’ in ‘pheromone’.
The sixth and last line has a slick softness to it like blancmange. As promised the ‘iss’ from ‘rissole’ and ‘piss-hole’ makes an appearance before morphing into ‘oss’ and in a final stroke of nothing that remotely approaches genius, the transformation of ‘om’ into ‘um’.
quincunx (a word that flirts with obscenity):
an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its centre, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting trees.
a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.
Both words were used in an article in the Irish Times on the poetry of Seamus Heaney, sent to me by John D; ‘Cartesian dualism’ and ‘Binarism’ were also mentioned (and Jesus wept).
a compressed mixture of meat and spices, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.
My mom used to make them, although I remember them as being more like a hamburger patty without the bun…thanks, mom!
Photo: English Bay, Vancouver, A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER, by Yue Minjun.