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Behind the Wainscot: 4

Behind the Wainscot: 4

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   [ “Caution” (detail): Jeff Crouch ]


   "Capitonyms and Heteronyms," Richard Lederer
   Two Poems Peter Schwartz
   Review: Sybil’s Garage 4 Darin C. Bradley

Capitonyms and Heteronyms

[ Richard Lederer ]

      A capitonym is a word that changes meaning and pronunciation when it is capitalized, as illustrated in the next two quatrains:

Job's Job

In August, an august patriarch,

Was reading an ad in Reading, Mass.

Long-suffering Job secured a job

To polish piles of Polish brass.

Herb's Herbs

An herb store owner, name of Herb,

Moved to rainier Mt. Rainier,

It would have been so nice in Nice,

And even tangier in Tangier.

     As you read the next poem, note the unusual pattern of the end-rhymes:

Listen, readers, toward me bow.

Be friendly; do not draw the bow.

Please don't try to start a row.

Sit peacefully, all in a row.

Don't squeal like a big, fat sow.

Do not the seeds of discord sow.

     Even though each couplet ends with the same word, the rhymes occur on every other line. That’s because bow, row, and sow each possess two different pronunciations and spellings. These rare pairings are called heteronyms:

A Hymn to Heteronyms

     Please come through the entrance of this little poem.

          I guarantee it will entrance you.

     The content will certainly make you content,

          And the knowledge gained sure will enhance you.

     A boy moped around when his parents refused

          For him a new moped to buy.

     The incense he burned did incense him to go

          On a tear with a tear in his eye.

     He ragged on his parents, felt they ran him ragged.

          His just deserts they never gave.

     He imagined them out on some deserts so dry,

          Where for water they'd search and they'd rave.

     At present he just won't present or converse

          On the converse of each high-flown theory

     Of circles and axes in math class; he has

          Many axes to grind, isn't cheery.

     He tried to play baseball, but often skied out,

          So when the snows came, he just skied.

     He then broke a leg putting on his ski boots,

          And his putting in golf was in need.

     He once held the lead in a cross-country race,

          'Til his legs started feeling like lead

     And when the pain peaked, he looked kind of peaked.

          His liver felt liver, then dead.

     A number of times he felt number, all wound

          Up, like one with a wound, not a wand.

     His new TV console just couldn't console

          Or slough off a slough of despond.

      The rugged boy paced 'round his shaggy rugged room,

          And he spent the whole evening till dawn

     Evening out the crosswinds of his hate.

          Now my anecdote winds on and on.

     He thought: "Does the prancing of so many does

          Explain why down dove the white dove,

     Or why pussy cat has a pussy old sore

          And bass sing in bass notes of their love?"

     Do they always sing, "Do re mi" and stare, agape,

          At eros, agape, each minute?

     Their love's not minute; there's an overage of love.

          Even overage fish are quite in it.

      These bass fish have never been in short supply

           As they supply spawn without waiting.

     With their love fluids bubbling, abundant, secretive,

          There's many a secretive mating.

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Richard Lederer is the author of more than 30 books about language and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his current book, Word Wizard. Dr. Lederer's syndicated column, "Looking at Language," appears in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

He has been elected International Punster of the Year and been profiled in magazines as diverse as The New Yorker, People, and the National Enquirer. He is language columnist for The Toastmaster, Pages, and the Farmers' Almanac and is Verbivore Emeritus on public radio's "A Way With Words."

Two Poems

[ Peter Schwartz ]


—first published in Lily

     my hands,

     filled with wicked silhouettes

     are no better empty

     for still they

     are not eloquent

     flashing like prehistoric

     fish through traffic

     their backbones comprise

     spine for my entire catalog

     of simple gestures

     meant to show ugly love being

     pulled slowly into sainthood

     as if some pretend russia

     I can't describe would be

     worth such sirens

     my hands, my hands

     whose wrinkled escapes

     can only be worn by speaking

     of rabid immigration

     and gentle politics

     they soften off the puppet clock

     forgetting their tiny warrants

     for black nausea and poetry

     how strangely my hands

     have survived . . .


     —first published in Sein und Werden

     it's belladonna ladyship with penny royal tea

     it's a false widow

     exchanging porcelain overseas

     it's the brittle little cakes that break

     as we take sugar from snowflakes

     when neanderthal


     it's birdseed and beer gardens

     the amber fellowship

     of reeds

     it's coaxing father T.

     to number the parts of his heart

     while she whispers siamese

     outside the park

     it's inelegant,

     it's prosthesis, a sarcophagus

     a touching of cups

     it's mother N. whooping it up

     at the steps of


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Peter Schwartz is the editor of 'eye' and the associate art editor of Mad Hatters' Review. His artwork can be seen all over the Internet but specifically at: www.sitrahahra.com. He has almost 200 poems published in such journals as Porcupine, Vox, and Sein und Werden. Currently he is working on paintings for an exhibit at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Chelsea NYC.

Review: Sybil’s Garage 4

[ Darin C. Bradley ]

     Sybil’s Garage No. 4 is an alienating thing—a saturation tank of isolation and the sublime. Like its first three predecessors, Issue 4 aligns the quietly bizarre and the slightly uncanny with nineteenth-century design. That’s not to say that Sybil’s Garage is easily classifiable, either in form or content. Victorian woodcuts share pagespace with postmodern silhouettes and modernist sketches. Fragments of polyglottal marginalia pepper Sybil’s pages—appearing everywhere like cryptic typesetter’s notes. From the first glimpse of the Bladerunneresque cover to the final, stunning woodcut, this issue is its own work of slipstream art.

     Featuring an impressive lineup of fiction and a respectable collection of poetry (particularly Kristine Ong Muslim’s “One of the Reasons”), Issue 4 also offers very-readable interviews with Jeffrey Ford and Stephan H. Segal. Gone are the typical sycophantism from most contemporary interviews. These two, particularly editor Matthew Kressel’s interview with Ford, are direct and engaging—at times, even suspenseful.

     Noteworthy stories in this issue are Ekaterina Sedia’s “Seas of the World,” which, true to Sedia’s singular mytho-strange voice, metaphorizes change, ruination, and isolation in unexpected ways. It is quiet, paced, and resonant.

     It would be too easy to call Rowena Southard’s “Translucence” Kafkaesque, but it is, in a delightfully direct way. Indeed, we should call it “Metamorphosis”-esque. This story, a study of the isolated humanity of a brilliant entomologist, is a delicately phrased stroll through identity, projection, and obsession.

     Livia Llewellyn’s “Jetsam” is phantasmagoric, a great “what if” taking contemporary metaphors of self to their logical conclusions. In this story, which draws its force from alienation in commodified society, ruin has learned to eat, and the middenheaps of its kipple-filled gullet are the new reality.

     Other stories fill out the issue’s strange presentation-of-self in noteworthy fashion, particularly Richard Bowes’s story of picaresque dislocation in “On Death and the Deuce” and Barbara Krasnoff’s chilling “Means of Communication.” With the strength of the material in Issue 4, Issue 5 will, no doubt, be highly anticipated in the world of small-press weird.

[Sybil’s Garage, edited by Matthew Kressel, is published by Senses Five Press.]

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Farrago's Wainscot is an exhibition of weird, strange, bizarre, interstitial, or otherwise liminal fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and experimental forms.

Behind the Wainscot is a companion blogozine to the larger Wainscot exhibition, exploring similar ideas in smaller, more fragmentary segments.

Submission guidelines for Behind the Wainscot

The content appearing in Farrago's Wainscot and Behind the Wainscot will always be free; however, we rely on your generosity to cover a portion of our operating costs. If you enjoyed this issue of Behind the Wainscot, please consider a $1.00 donation.

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