Have you noticed the latest style for spam subject lines? In my inbox, at least, I see short phrases (often two words long), in odd juxtiposition. They remind me of the Carolyn Forché poem, “On Earth,” from her collection Blue Hour. The poem consists of a list of phrases 46 pages long.
Here’s a sample:
as for children, so for the dead
as gloves into a grave
as God withdrawing so as to open an absence
as he appears and reappears in the unknown
as if a flock of geese were following
as if there were no other source of food
as if to say goodbye to his own mind
as if we had only one more hour
as if with the future we could replace the past
as in the childhood of terror and holiness
There are a few things to notice. The lines are mere phrases, sentence fragments, and they are alphabetically arranged. If you read the whole poem, you’d see there are themes only in the vaguest sense; if some ideas are returned to, it’s almost by accident.
In Honor Moore’s literature seminar last semester, Honor told us that Forché, a friend of hers, called her one night and told her about a new poem. She had had a computer file of lines, mostly phrases, that she had been collecting for years. One day, “I just pressed ‘sort’,” Forché told her. Honor showed us there are all sorts of things you can do with such a list besides sorting them.
So here we go. The rules are simple. The subject lines are unedited except minimally for punctuation and capitalization. Some great lines, such as “silken devastation” or “dysentery nondenominational,” have been omited because they were, well, too good.
Or Rare Of Rock
recreation adopted ethic
planetaria junk food
nankeen lily palm kale
through frigid water
or rare of rock
gold specific clock
of the circlet
to to athwart
exonerate topic sentence
drachmae schoollike rehypothecation