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First words, last chancesD.J. Enright
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Vol. 15 No. 9 · 13 May 1993
Poem

First words, last chances

D.J. Enright

   Words you’ve never used
And have always wanted to –
   Get them in quickly.

           *

   Dight in dimity
Enlaced with lazy-daisy
   In fishnet fleshings.

   It fell on your head
Her old boyfriend’s framed photo –
   Fearsome xoanon!

   The ergonomics
(Please don’t tread on erica!)
   Of the percheron.

   How the aasvogel
Flapping alongside the jeep
   Churned up your bowels!

   An ancient bayou
A batrachian flops in –
   Sound of H2O.

   By the billabong
A sheila throwing goolies
   At perving galahs.

   Jalousies muffle
Criminal conversation –
   Discalced and unfrocked
Ithyphallic, perforate –
A case of jactitation.

   Being discovered
In flagrante delicto
   With a young person
In statu pupillari
He pleads hypnopaedia.

   Dreaming you’re starving
Lost in a forest: millefeuilles
   Drift down to your mouth.

   Sucking at jujubes
(Junketing, jabberwocky!)
   Sipping mint juleps.

   It still disturbs him
The tintinnabulation –
   Sunday, odd day out.

   The toilets are closed
But there’s a dark passage near
   Known as Pis Aller.

   Membrum virile?
It matches the mise en scène –
   Ah, micturition!

   A night of mixed drinks
Nepenthes and mnemonics –
   A crapulous dawn.

   What Tagalog means
Is neither Tag nor Logos
   But ‘native river’.

   Godthaab thought it best
After twelve score years and ten
   To call itself Nuuk.

   She dropped a taipan
(Oh what a kakemono!)
   On her tatami.

   The term congeries
Given by Gavin Ewart –
   Jellied eels I’d thought.

   Zoomancy (four
Syllables please note) as when
   Cats augur earthquakes.

   Kin to yin and yang
Lingam and yoni are less
   Metaphysical.

   Odalisques, frillies
Frou-frous – and aboulia:
   Let’s mithridatise!

   Everest, Mont Blanc
Matterhorn, Mons Veneris –
   Hills so hard to climb.

   Eleven ages –
Nonage, bondage and rampage
   Marriage and mortgage
Hostage, wastage and outrage
Dotage, wreckage – average.

   An opsimath digs
(Paradise or parados?)
   His hortus siccus.

   The best transhumance
(Tsunamis are predicted)
   Calls for theurgy.

   Your present prospects
No longer quaquaversal –
   Mere tunnel vision!

   A biography –
Asterisks, obeli, but
   Where’s the bloody text?

   All in all he was
(Here’s a pleasing epitaph!)
   Alphanumeric.

   Vox angelica
(Voicing vale or ave?)
   Or vox humana?

   Silence draws closer –
What chrestomathy helps you
   Learn a tongueless tongue?

            *

   But they didn’t stop!
Nearing heaven, nearing hell
   Babel’s still building.

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