Behind the Scenes
Examining the Ruth Lilly $$$ (1) A Guest Note from Joseph Goosey
BY JOSEPH SPECE
Woke in the brume,
lilacs like turf stars.
The late fawn
standing in his syrups;
bucks down the swale
We move south
to slopes of sleeping poppy,
past the white alder,
bending heads to scent
of calx—in natural dark
a man tries his hand
at belonging. He
with greave of hide, a born
hood, lay with three
spikes in the clay, green
peak in the breeze.
He whose breathing
wrongs the still.
You stir now to mend,
To be one of us, after all this?
Take a word on this from Joseph after the break.
A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THE ARCHAIC AND UNNECESSARY LANGUAGE IN JOSEPH SPECE’S “AMONG ELKS”
Joseph Speces, according to poetryfoundation.org, received his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Boston College and his MFA from Columbia University in 2009. His fifteen thousand dollar check was immediately signed over to Columbia University. He looks like this:
What’s up, Bro? Did I hear you sayin’ somethin’ to my girl? Let’s hit the SLOPES.
But enough really fun ad hominem, let’s examine the text.
BRUME: Hey, who knows what a brume is? I don’t. That is, I didn’t until I googled it and thefreedictionary.com informed me that a brume is….wait for it….A POETIC FOG OR MIST. Speces must be a subscriber to dictionary.com‘s charming word of the day email saw the word “poetic” in a definition, and immediately called mom to bounce around some ideas.
TURF STARS: A Turf Star is a race horse for the one or two of you who don’t keep up with horse racing jargon.
SWALE: Wikipedia tells me that a Swale is a low tract of land, one that is moist. Speces is making me moist.
SEDGE: Speces must also be Master Gardener Certified because a Sedge is “Any of the plants in the family Cyperabeae Family.” There are 4000 species and 70 genera.
ALDER: An Alder is….A PLANT! Imagine that shit! The Alder belongs to everyone’s
favorite family of flowering plants- the birch family. It’s not a poem until it involves birch!
CALX: Calx is “a residual substance, sometimes in the form of a fine powder, that is left when a metal or mineral combusts due to heat.” Of course. Where was I during 11th grade Chemistry? INTERESTING CALX FACT: When one googles “Calx” the first hit is the wikipedia definition of Calx, the second hit is a link to this horse racing place http://www.calxharness.com/ that has a three dollar lasagna plate special.
GREAVE: A greave is this armor thing you put on your leg. People used it a long time ago.
Goliath is said to have worn them in the Old Testament. You poets who are in 6th grade
will have likely picked up Greave’s homophone “grieve”
I’m pretty sure that from here on out, the poem is composed of words we continued to use past 1870. It appears that Speces wrote a poem in Microsoft Word then right clicked every word in his poem to make sure there wasn’t some ancient synonym that would make Christian Wiman get mad wood.
[Joseph Goosey parks cars in Jacksonville, Florida. He has 2 chapbooks that are online and 2 chapbooks that are in print. He thanks you for reading.]