Clutching Seagulls

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the last post–the one about Holmes wearing a wig–I tried to describe how I had stumbled upon an interesting way of combining words to form unexpected sentences, which in turn could provide inspiration for more writing, painting, etc.  Here is the description of one chain of events that began with some of these odd sentences, and have, so far, resulted in two longer poems and a painting.

One day when I was supposed to be working on something else, I was perusing the pages of sentences I had composed, and saw that some of them seemed to belong together.  I could arrange some of them in a way that told a very short story.  I also was interested in the sounds of the words, so I attempted to assemble them so that the sounds were pleasing, or at least not too clunky.  I came up with:

They throw their hands up in the air,

Throw their experiments on the front porch;

They clutch their seagulls for protection.

Okay, who threw their experiments on what porch?  I am guessing three earnest and geeky pre-adolescent boys who look like they belong in a George Tooker painting.  What were the experiments?  Something must have gone awry.  Were the seagulls pets?

Here is a second one, which is a conversation between two or three people:

Don’t be alarmed by the odor of Tricky-Dip.

            It smells like a swamp at low tide.

Fantastically strong smells.

            It complains when it’s left in the bottle.

            Rotting disaster!

            I need a mask…

Mix up a puddle.

           …Wallowing in industrial wastes,

           Shovels, drainpipes, typewriters. 

What is Tricky-Dip?  Yes, I know it kind of sounds like the nickname of one of our former presidents, but I don’t care, it presented itself to me as “Tricky-Dip” when I was combining words, and it intrigues me.  It sounds like it is a liquid, useful but toxic, maybe dangerous.  Yes, definitely dangerous.

Here’s another one:

For years, deadlines forced me to the town dump.

Impossible, circuitous route!

To keep my sanity, I found plunging ahead satisfactory.

I’ve never been accused of a slovenly habit.

Who kept going to the dump, and why?  The speaker sounded rather defensive about the “slovenly habit” bit; maybe he was kind of sensitive about the fact that he was forced to visit the dump on a regular basis.  Perhaps he was especially careful about his appearance so people wouldn’t think of him as “the dump man.”  When I try to visualize what he looks like, he wears a grey overcoat and a hat, sort of a cross between Leonard Cohen and “Spy vs. Spy”…

I assembled lots more of these pseudo-poems (some can be found in the “Generated Works” menu at left–I’m still trying to figure out how to make them easily accessible), and from them, characters and situations have started to emerge.  To help them take form, I assembled a larger segment of writing, which will be the topic of the next post.


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