Home > Education > Professor Lucifer in the Arena of Angels

Professor Lucifer in the Arena of Angels

September 26, 2006

“. . . Zooplasty on a grand scale, Uncle’s
yen to adorn the soul with sense beyond
Xs sewn for eyes on sock dolls (Jacko’s
watch, a parallax in that lax, cross-eyed
vision: sight sans insight, its dazzled look
under scrutiny), hence, mind, rather, how
the mind, being an appendage to the
soul, is in the scheme of things meat met with
raison d’être for a treat, then the barbe-
cue where for dessert there shall be apple
pie flown back from Eden, a rare entrée
of undetermined fare preceded by
none other than a gangrene salad, a
much-maligned primordial soup, and, at
last, appetizers beneath a spell of
knelling, metaphysical handbells—no
jumbo tolls, no subliminal signal
invoking a horde of winged dogs to the
hunt. O, my incalculable lovelies,
gods of the loft that in such myriad
forms are but air, stacked vapor, and old light
everywhere but where you are, which of you—
deaf ears, hollow eyes, numb tongues, and no thumbs—
can tell me whereabouts besides the foul
bowels I shall make the incision, what
angle take to free from flesh the angel?”

by Karl Elder

For online definitions of “zooplasty,” see here. -Eds.

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  1. September 26, 2006 at 10:41 am


    Socks knocked off, adjectives abject and inadequate.

  2. philip dacey
    September 26, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    The gods of the English language are dancing in heaven because Professor Lucifer is on the prowl. Elder gives the vowels and consonants a world-class workout. The bells of St. Mary’s couldn’t ring more resonantly than his words. Such repetitions, such echoes, such rhythms! Is the poet having fun or is the poet having fun? And when poets have fun of so great a caliber, we know we are in the presence of serious work. Who said, “Whoopjamboreehoos!”? Tom Sawyer? Huck Finn? I say it in response to this poem. You know about elderhostel. Now know about Eldermusic.

  3. Laura Gross
    September 26, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Elder has chosen a challenging form, and he still manages to keep a sense of playfulness. His use of sound and rhythms are simultaneously controlled yet aesthetically pleasing, and they continue to resonate with readers long after they’ve read the poem. Writing abecedariums is quiet a feat, but Elder seems to do it effortlessly.

  4. Earl Calderwood
    September 26, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Wow, that’s pretty bad. This is what gives contemporary poetry a bad name.

  5. Darl R. Leek
    September 26, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    That’s great! It’s like Wallace Stevens and George Bush had a love-poetry child and taught it to tink-a-tank-tunk, gorge on burning bushes, and stall the evenings until the cauldrons were earled.

    Darl R. Leek

  6. September 27, 2006 at 9:19 am

    That’s awesome!

  7. Shannon
    September 29, 2006 at 8:48 am

    Huge Karl Elder fan. Hope to see more of his work on your site.

  8. September 29, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    *nodding head*

  9. Michael Kriesel
    October 3, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    1st three lines really got me. Loved stacks of vapor and the play on angles. Inspired me to try one of my own.

  10. Linda Catalan
    October 7, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Riveting – troubling. Imagery that imbedes itself into your head and then explodes.
    revisiting Milton in the first person.

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