The poetry of the Budge-Nuzzard

The language of the Budge-Nuzzard never ceases to amaze and delight (and sometimes choke) me, but there is one passage in particular which causes me to go into raptures every single time.

So did I creep through every crevice and plumb each pocket within the Sha-Una’s cavernous pouch, and yet I found no crunchy bit nor bulky crumb to drive my hunger back from whence it sprung. Fear took me. Only one course of action could my mind now conceive: To slay my hunger ere he slay me.

Glorious. Ack. i’m just going to lie here for a bit until the room stops spinning.

Okay. i think i can sit upright again. Let’s walk through a bit of the poetry.

So did I creep through every crevice and plumb each pocket

Here are two sets of alliteration: CC, PP.

So did I creep through every crevice and plumb each pocket within the Sha-Una’s cavernous pouch

And then we continue reading and find a phrase which echoes that alliteration: CC, PP, CP.

…yet I found no crunchy bit nor bulky crumb

And here we have chiastic alliteration: CBBC. Mind. Blown.

…yet I found no crunchy bit nor bulky crumb to drive my hunger back from whence it sprung.

In the same line, there is a very nice bit of assonance. When reading aloud, the emphasis naturally falls on these two highlighted words, which heightens the effect of the assonance.

Fear took me.

Dread is so simple. Amidst the complexity of this passage, this three-word sentence rises up to grip the reader. Because of the length of the previous sentence, it’s natural to pause before this one. And each word here is weighty, yet most of the weight hangs on that first word. i find this appropriate.

Only one course of action could my mind now conceive: To slay my hunger ere he slay me.

And this near-rhyme echoes the assonance above. Again, to strengthen the rhythm as well as the near-rhyme, the major emphasis is on the last syllable of each sentence. But the rhythm here is not as simple as the assonant line above.

Only one course of action could my mind now conceive: To slay my hunger ere he slay me.

The march of the first half of this line is inexorable, mirroring the inevitability the narrator conceives. Then the rhythm pauses on that first instance of the word “slay.” The sentence hangs on that word until the fall of the very last syllable.

Now read the whole thing again, aloud, and let the language do its work.

Rapture.


Note: A.S. Peterson, the author responsible for the Budge-Nuzzard, has also written a set of historical novels, several literary short stories, a blog post that literally changed my life, and a poem cycle which has undone me again and again. He writes good sentences soaked through with sehnsucht and absurdity. i want to be just like him when i grow up. Go forth and read.

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A poem in progress, part 1

i have no idea how to edit poetry. It feels like nonsense. Isn’t poetry a matter of my heart springing up? Can such a thing be edited? Well, yes, and i am going to attempt it. In this post, i will transcribe a poem i have just written, a first draft. i know there’s something wrong with it. In particular, i don’t care for the third strophe. So i will come back to it over and over until i am satisfied with it, and i will post that process here so that i don’t get distracted and forget that i mean to work on this.


i wake in the waking of the world.
The darkness flees the coming of the voice of the L-RD.
i yawn. i stretch my arms.
i watch the light come.
He calls it sun.

We dance, this world and i, to watch Him work.
We spin again, and the shoots leap up.
All is golden, all is green.
The darkness comes again and again,
But it is not fearful now.
It is restful, peaceful, safe,
and morning comes again
to say that all is well.
All is joy.

We spin again, this world and i,
and wonders rise and fill the earth.
i leap for wonder, laugh with pleasure.
And when we spin again,
a new thing yawns.
He stretches his arms.
So like the L-RD in countenance,
so unlike in form; his glory is reflected.
And i love him.


Astute readers may find allusions to two Petersons in this poem. It sort of just happens. We’ll see if those bits survive the editing process. Can i make this poem fully mine? Is there any such thing as “mine” without the voices of the poets i have known? (Look, i did it again.) i have more to say on that subject, but it can wait.

Bonus points to anyone who can identify the speaker.

Simon the Zealot at the Cross

The worst that could have happened
has happened—and more.
You were to save us.
And now what is left but fishing and tax-collecting?

i look around and see no-one to help,
So my own arm will work salvation for me.
i must put this despair somewhere.
i must put this anger somewhere.
i need to put this helplessness somewhere.

If Your arm is too short to save,
Surely mine is shorter,
but i have to do something, something—

But not tonight.
Tonight, just let me die with You.

Imagines Dei

Lilting, rumbling, clattering, murmuring.
We are alive here,
little vessels of glory,
moving past and around and through
each other.
Windows into Your majesty,
even in our fumbling,
our falling,
our bandaged oozing,
our lies.
Make us new.
Make us alive.
You alone bear life in Your veins,
and You pour it forth.
It flows over, and fills in
our emptiness, covers over
our wicked places,
our horrors.
And You sing.
The lilting is Your voice,
weaving grace.


Written while studying in my “office” cafe, music in the background, surrounded by little, broken, beautiful images of G-d. Strangers to me. People He loves.

Mysterious mist

A thin mist is rolling in the parking lot, scudding along the ground. This has been going on for hours. When i went out to my car earlier i discovered this mist curling around my ankles, sliding past me to grace the underbellies of the vehicles, and it made me jump and dance.


The gossamer gauze moves slowly over the ground.
Rolling, running, like a silent steady sigh.
The breath of some winter wyrm lying low, belly pressed against the pavement.
Ominous monarchial mist, mysterious exhalation.

The Gunslinger

This is unfinished, but i’m really pleased with it so far. It’s equal parts Sunny Sundown and Andrew Peterson’s High Noon.


The dust blew; it blew all over the town
The sun’s rays lit it up as he rode in at sundown
And shouted his charge by his silence,
His long flapping coat and unflappable presence.
And what would the gunslinger do?
He too was an outlaw, and everyone knew.

He whistled in church
And made maidens blush
He grazed in the gardens
And drank like a lush
He swore and he spat and he gambled and such
And surely he’d killed a man dead
The last time the deacons had called for his head
But he was our only defense.
Now what would the gunslinger do?

The dust blew; it blew all over the town
The black-coated man swung from his horse to the ground
He spread his feet and fingered his gun
And sneered like he already knew he had won.
And what would the gunslinger do?
We needed an outlaw; that much was true.

When melts the sun

When melts the sun into glory
and all earth is suffused by its rays
When the clouds dissolve and the trumpet resounds
at the sight of the Ancient of Days
One kiss from His mouth will shatter our shame
One touch will wake up the dead
And we, with our faces alight with His love,
will trample our glories for His glories instead.

A poem for the journey

i found this tonight while looking through a file of story ideas. i wrote it before school started, and i meant to come back to it but never did. The peace in it is striking when i remember what turmoil i was feeling when i wrote it.

“i hope it’s good for your soul.” O remind me, Adonai, to keep my eyes ever on You.

At the edge of graduate studies

i begin now a long journey.
And who shall i be when i arrive?
Go now with me
and define my becoming.
You, my soul’s hope,
my beloved,
my joy,
be for me my only goal
as You make and remake me
as You desire.
Build me as a cairn,
year by year,
class by class,
stone by stone,
and make me a sign-post.
When i arrive,
i will look out across the summit
and wonder at Your majesty,
and glory in Your creativity,
and marvel at what You have made me,
and open wide my arms
and laugh
and set my feet upon the path
of our next great journey.

What will we be…

What will we be
when all is redeemed,
when all is made beauty
and we are made new?

After a weekend off, i return to editing my Peet essay and gloaning upon the mysteries of redemption. Burn, O my heart.

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