The Nacreous Oughts

29 April 2004

A GLIMPSE OF HUMMINGBIRD POETICS. I was talking with Jack Ruby Hummingbird, whose poems I have sometimes featured here, and I told him I'd noticed he sometimes repeats words in different places. It turns out he has a whole theory about this. His poems, if you recall, invariably take the form of four lines of four words each. If a word appears in one place on a line, chances are it appears in a different place on any other line he uses it in. But according toJack, that's just the beginning. These repetitions are a special case of something he refers to as "moieties". A "moiety" is a repetition of any sort, whether complete or only of similars. "Rock" on one line, and "stone" on another, are the same moiety; "red" and "blue likewise. Well, his practice allows also for the occurence of the same moiety in the same position, with the following results. No matches, is like the clean feeling of a summer sunrise (this one he most prefers). Two matches--
0 0 X 0
X 0 0 0
0 0 X 0
0 X 0 0
--a double, because two occurences of an X are in the third column--is like maybe a far off cloud in the sky, but no weather approaching. Three is like massed clouds darkening. And four is a storm.

K. S.

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