A Journal of poetry and kindred prose

From the
Editor's Desk

by kbb

Word Soup

Since I was the first writer to emerge from a very large extended family, when my book was published, I had no idea how family members would receive it. As it turned out, my two living aunts were appreciative, but one confessed she was unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary. That surprised me at first—I don’t use obscure words deliberately—but when I pored over the book with a fresh eye, indeed I detected words that no one should assume are universally known, for example: glyph, rune, quotidian, imprimatur, Cimmerian, auguries, interloper, cumbrous, promontory, chanterelles.

Some poets in this second edition of Umbrella sent me to the dictionary too, to look up hummadruz and some foreign locutions: himbeergeist, heilige totschlag, kleider machen leute. No glossary provided! “Googling” (itself a new locution) will solve such puzzles easily enough.

To celebrate this edition’s interesting word choices, I’ve written a little poem incorporating one word from each featured poet.

A Little Lexicon Poem

Walk beside the Arno
or down the Lange Herentalsestraat,
walk anywhere in the small hours
and you may hear a sound like yellowjackets swarming.
It will set your teeth to rattling.

That light in the distance
may be souls rising from pyres, willy-nilly,
or merely a fizgig.
That sensation in your mouth?
The aftertaste of sangaree, perhaps,
or new corridos, songs being born.
Excavate their words, as shells from a midden.

Shells like those may be pearline
the color of quicksilver
or, rarely, vermilion.
Let your songs have luster too.
Give them the airiness of epiphytes,
the delicacy of netsuke.

Why not retire to the lakefront
and sing the decades away?
There, by the dark water,
you can stretch and bend:
snake, dog, trikona asana,
each arc and hypotenuse
a striving for a small perfection.

Bonehead! Wake up, fix coffee,
get to work early for once!
But allow time enough
to walk along Riverside Drive.
No doubt something is in bloom,
boxwood or rhododendrons;
there’ll be a tang of fragrance on your tongue
and the thrumming traffic on the highway
will make a hummadruz of all your being.


Final Note

Submissions teemed in, a wonderful thing.  The winnowing process was quite a challenge and no doubt I wound up turning down much worthy work.  Every submission represents an act of faith, hope and love.  To those who entrusted their writing to me in this way, deep thanks. 

In addition to fine poetry, we’ve got some boffo prose for you this time. Bumbershoot was great deal of fun to put together too. Jan D. Hodge deserves particular mention for his sensational collection of double dactyls. For the children’s verse section, eminent children’s author J. Patrick Lewis has brought us Doby Mick, the great white snail, and given a number of animals a fitting burial. The children’s verse section turned out to be quite the menagerie.

Many thanks to my cohort Carol Taylor for her great and gracious services as Bumbershoot's light verse editor, and to Rachel Dacus for her sagacious advice during Umbrella's selection process. Your editors dearly hope you enjoy this second edition of Umbrella/Bumbershoot.

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