Showing posts with label persona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label persona. Show all posts


E pluribus unum

I forget whence this poem originated.

I have a half memory that somebody may have raised a challenge but whether it was to write in the plural, or to bend the rules of grammar I don't know.  Possibly it was to adopt an alien persona of some variety...

So anyway, herewith the aforementioned poem.  It's not exactly a puzzle, but you may get some way through before you figure it out...

E pluribus unum

like really you say that
as if it were a clever thing
and I (plural) am watching
your picnic from seven hundred
viewpoints in the long grasses

and there is only one of we (singular)
and it's not our queen
because, OK, there's only one
in here and we're organised around her
but she's still only a part of the machine

and I (plural) am the machine
and we (singular) are all the parts
and I am watching you
and I am already

Note: the first sentence of this posting is grammatically correct... "whence" means "from where."
So "from whence" is arguably tautology, although apparently it has also been in use for a long, long time...


The dream lover of Edward Zuminga (writing as Theodora Sitné Jones)

Tropical romance, late yesterday evening
Here is another pseudonymous poem from our false personas (OK personae) competition at Christmas.

Here I was adopting a more carefully realised character than Mr Three Eighths in that Theodora is known to be the eldest daughter of an ex-patriot English painter, raised on a smallish (unnamed) Pacific island, educated (badly) in Southern California, and finally settled back in the UK where she can experience properly grim weather...

This poem, however, dates from her earlier, more tropical, period.

Adopting a false persona can be strangely liberating.  The first instinct is, of course, to change gender.  No idea why.  Possibly we all believe (wrongly) that this conceals our identities.  Maybe we think (again wrongly) that it changes our writing more than any other factor.  Whatever the reason it is a fact the imaginary personalities in our competition showed the reverse ratio of sexes compared to the real personalities.

After that you try to change style, form and subject matter.  Not much I could have done about the middle one, as I use all sorts of forms.  Also I suspect I failed a bit at the first as reading this again it does sound rather like me (although I think almost nobody spotted me, so maybe I'm wrong...)

As for subject matter, well it's a guy with a strangely-described, imaginary lover.  I'd never write about that :-)

The dream lover of Edward Zuminga

is carved from butter and lives, besieged
by dishes, knives, napkin rings
and all that mundane paraphernalia
from a roadside eating-house that also isn't here.

She limps slightly and speaks
of it only when plied with quantities
of drink, over-priced from the only bar
open after the flies are all asleep.

She has never told the truth.
She wears deep cotton
colours, to contradict her skin.
She believes in coincidence,

that her sister's name is the same as hers
by chance, or possibly bribery.
Edward cannot love her
in the manner she deserves.

For all that she exists
only inside his noontime slumbered eye,
she visits infrequently
is cool about gifts
has never spent the night.


Lister D [writing as Mr Three Eighths]

An engine, earlier today...
I apologise in advance, the diagram to the right is for a far more modern petrol engine.

Before New Year I ran a competition over on Poets' Graves where the idea was to "Adopt a false persona for Christmas" — all the competitors entered anonymously and submitted one or more poems under a pseudonym.  We then had everybody vote for the best poems and best personae; and also a side-competition for people to try and unmask the perpetrators. 

Some of us had two false identities, just to be on the safe side; but I don't think this was really necessary as identifying anonymous poets, even people you know quite well, turns out to be surprisingly difficult... 

So...  this was one of my entries, written under the persona of "Mr Three Eighths," who is a vintage machinery enthusiast and only slightly modelled on a guy I knew at school.

This is a sonnet.  Sonnets seem to be my favourite form when I write a formal poem.  No idea why this is; except they are the most wonderfully compact, deep and rounded form.  I far more often start to write a free verse poem and subsequently discover it is a sonnet, compared to the other way around.

In case you are interested, I came third in the competition.  You can check out all the entries here, at least until we clear that forum out ready for another competition.

Lister D [writing as Mr Three Eights]

One and one half horse power and stationary
but for the necessary gentle rock
from side to side. Traditional, the case
is painted Brunswick green. Unshockingly
the magneto is the Lucas SR1
found in a sale and lovingly rewound
in three nights and the shed. A later model
fed from its fuel tank that's top mounted;
it also has chain drive. Bring it alive!
Fill the fuel, and top the water to two inches
from the rim. The governor wick and oil holes need
attention... sump, float, greaser and then drive
the flywheel back to reach 'compress'. Clench
the handle-- Ho! Who'd want a Fowler P?

Image attribution: "Single-cylinder T-head engine (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935)" by Andy Dingley (scanner) - Scan from The Autocar (Thirteenth edition, circa 1935) Autocar Handbook, London: Iliffe & Sons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.