Evocative as metaphors can be, they are not the most syncopated way of pairing odd conceptual
“The artist is a dog,” is a fine modern metaphor.
It works, principally, because the arrow of conceptual expectation (“The artist is...”) hits an UNexpected target
(“...a dog.”). It kinda makes you laugh (the intrinsic joy of experiencing the benign surprise) and then
makes you wonder why the arrow was shot in that particular and odd direction. Almost processional is the experience.
One marches from a subject down the (usually) straight line of grammar to a quirky complement. Down the aisle we go
full of expectation only to find a shocking, intriguing substitute waiting for us at the altar. There is a beginning
and an end, an idea and its provocative Redefinition. The melody goes crazy but the rhythm is fairly dull.
for a different example.
One is not the complement of the other; they
are equal and not only can go anywhere but can be taken anywhere by the conceptual/syntactical antics of the other.
Talk about the UNexpected. The sounds AND the concepts swing and the rhythm (syntactical) is everything (almost).
The magic is in the association of sustainably intriguing notions. And the game for me has been to create poems that
will bounce between two independent units and in their syntactical dance, create a whole new whole.
It was this rhythmic and conceptual experimentation that led, twenty some years ago, to the creation of the zipper poem –
a poem in which two independently coherent lines of poetry are zipped, horizontally, together and, by the associational wizardry
of the manipulated (or unexpectedly discovered) juxtapositions, a third poem, greater than the sum of its parts, is born.
Claws retracted, breath
inadequate for this
unaccustomed heat —
to see such danger
fully coated with a useless fur,
out of place —
a full grown leopard,
a knife hilted in sand,
the kind one finds in Himalayan snows,
a letter torn and scattered on the floor, or a metaphor
paces back and forth in a narrow cage
of corporal power on a quiet page,
like Blake's tyger,
and the only one he’d ever really seen,
jungled in a zoo.
d. harder, copyright 2005
have, as well, created an entire libretto for the opera, “Zipperez” (music by Nat Stookey) that premiered with
the Oakland East Bay Symphony on November 14, 2008. Information about that can be seen at the symphony. Reviews can be linked below:
If you are intrigued and would like to see how an
entire story can be told in a series of zipper poems, take a look at my book Askew – Found and Lost in the Almost
South of France (Pince Nez Press, 2007).