Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Oxford English Dictionary

While some struggled to return from the war,
Others found refuge in pigeonholed words,
When the occasional surcease in sleuthing
Opened a path which had a momentary end:

The way Tolkien, laboring in the W’s, brought
The magnifying glass at his eye to one walrus
Tusked, blubbery, whale-horse athwart a floe.
In a crabbed hand, he wrote hrosshvalr,

Old English source if “zoologically improbable.”
Jamieson, keeper of the Skerries Lighthouse,
Contemporaneously reported a beast “yawning
During its sleep” and “quite tolerant of ladies.”

Fresh from no-man’s-land, the lexicographer
Dug trenches through Germanic tongues,
Having walnut behind him and warlock ahead.
And we? Waterboard. Weaponize. Worse.  

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