Reasonable Words: Poetry

Today a poem by David Slavitt, a member of the “100 Club” and a writer with a wide range (from Latin translations to potboiler best-sellers) and impish sense of humor.


A tryma is a nutlike drupe.
No one in your playground is likely to respond
to such an observation in any reasonable way, but
you can always explain that a drupe has a single endocarp,
which is true but not, perhaps, helpful.

A pneuma is, by extension, a breathlike trope?
That, we may agree, would be horsing around, but
a drupelet, which is a small drupe, as, for example the pulpy grain of the blackberry,
would have, logically, an endocarplet.
When it rains, as it may, from time to time,
I can imagine you running through the meadow exclaiming,
“Ah, see the droplets on the drupelets!”

You will be an exquisite child,
or, rather, are already but you will proclaim it
in such a way as to defy the world.
And will they call you on the carplet?
Defy them, defy them.

The trauma of the tryma
is with us always, as are the poor
in spirit, who will stare at you blankly
on in resentment ask,
“Wha’? Who?”
Answer them smartly and tell them
the wahoo is a kind of Euonymous
(which is also a good name)
with arillate seeds.
Tell them your grandfather said so.

If that doesn’t work, and it won’t, you can take some comfort
from knowing that the false aril originates
from the orifice instead of the stalk of an ovule,
as in the mace of the nutmeg, which is an arillode.

It follows, I suppose, that a true aril is a false arillode,
although people seldom say so,
but never let that stop you.

David R. Slavitt

John Dunstall Walnuts and Hazelnuts 1666

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: