November 1999

Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor Henry Taylor teaches literature and co-directs the MFA program in creative writing at American University in Washington, DC. His third collection of poetry, The Flying Change, received the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The verses included here are from Brief Candles: 101 Clerihews, which will appear from LSU Press in the spring of 2000.

A Selection of Clerihews    Click to hear in real audio

Noam Chomsky
worked over such phrases as "bum ski"
and "ski bum," applying generative grammar
and a ball-peen hammer.

Hélène Cixous,
she who
speaks of discourse as clitoral,
is not being literal.

Jacques Derrida
forgot where he'd—ah,
then he remembered:
deconstructed need not mean dismembered.

Michel Foucault
made a wicked osso buco.
As the veal shin bones began to turn brownish,
you could hear him crooning, "Discipline and punish."

Gerard Genette
poached a few tropes in his kitchenette.
There hadn't been such a melange of rhetorics
since Caesar engaged with Vercingetorix.

bell hooks,
when she gets funny looks
about lower-case letters, likes to wrap it all
up by exclaiming, "first-rate! splendid! capital!"

Paul de Man
never drove at Le Mans.
He was found to have published reprehensible views
concerning Jews.

Camille Paglia
believes feminist folly a
splendid occasion
for sarcastical suasion.

Ferdinand de Saussure
sometimes lost his composure
when expounding his dream of the structural whole
underlying the laws of langue and parole.




Henry Taylor: Clerihews
Copyright © 1999 The Cortland Review Issue NineThe Cortland Review