I Really Do

I once entered a poem in a contest and received in reply (a contest that actually gave feedback!) the comment “Don’t use made-up words.” Well, that was, I thought, the point of poetry—to explore beyond the boundaries of our ordinary speech, whether by image, word arrangement, or, yes, making up a new word that reaches beyond the ordinary grasp of language.

That’s why poetry is linked to song and dance, theater, and the visual arts. And, of course, if we didn’t constantly make up new words, the dictionary minders could close up shop, turn off their computers, and go home, their work completed for all time.

Making up new words like this is a kind of worldly glossolalia, a Pentecostal outpouring that communicates at levels deeper than accepted signs or meanings. It’s rooted in the deep experiential base, the “magma,” of poetic inspiration.

In a time when our deepest emotions are fanned and manipulated by demagogues, corporations, and fanatics bent on violence, the poetic effort to link ecstasy and lively community is a perilous but crucial task.

So, undeterred by kindly admonitions or dangers, I sometimes have to reach beyond the dictionary. The risky effort to put our deepest loves in words is something that we have to give ourselves to every once in a while, like an annual feast.

My sister’s 50th wedding anniversary allowed me to give voice to this little outburst. For after 50 years, hasn’t it all been said? Isn’t a little lift of the eyebrow, a gesture of the hand, enough? If it isn’t, you have to struggle with a poem. So here it is. And if you don’t like these words, you can make up your own!

I murgle you,

            I really do.

I want to lahmi in your lindermoos,

            leggle in your indelgon,

Lay my head within your smawn,

            my hands around your gentle sming,

And in that lovely swellenam

            I long to touch your elt,

            to smell the sweet palloosit of your palt,

            and wrap us round with soft mallootin.

My happiness would soar to song

            if I had some better words to say

I murgle you,

            I really do.

3 thoughts on “I Really Do”

  1. You have taken us far beyond ee cummings grammatical creativity! Logic confines us all way to tight(ly).

  2. Good to know someone else is a word-creator. After all, what is a word smith if not someone who lays those letters down with imagination and verve. You may be the best I\’ve ever read.

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