canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


by David Solway

Mullein has many names:
Venus Root, for it is exceedingly soft and downy and a tisane of mullein crimps 
XXXXXXXXXX the downward hair in packed innumerable smiles;
Aaron’s Rod, for it grows erect;
Barbascum, for it is bearded;
Candlewick Plant, for it resembles a tall candle with a small spike;
Hag’s Taper, for it resembles a pricket;
Shaggy Torch, for it burns like a goffered brand;
Circe’s Annoyance, for it is said to approximate moly in its consequences;
Flagstaff, for it resembles a pole with little beaupers at the top;
Slippery Elver, for it swims in air and is evasive in its bending; 
Stalk-on-Fire, for dipped in suet or pitch and lit it flares like a blazing
XXXXXXXXXX gonfalon hoisted on a lance and brandished in triumph;
Herbe Militaris, for it resembles a spear;
Euphrosyne, for it brings to mind the upright posture of the Third Grace;
Dagon’s Column, for it is like the pillar of a temple doomed to topple in the
XXXXXXXXXX second year;
Sun Steeple, for it is in morningtime like a spire of golden light where God’s 
XXXXXXXXXX little ones flutter, dote and worship;
Bishop-in-Chains, for in its later age it is grimly frocked and mitered meagerly 
XXXXXXXXXX and manifestly ribbed and deckled like a bishop in Africa 
XXXXXXXXXX imprisoned by Vandals and shackled by hunger; 
Sticky Balm, for it is mucilaginous and soothing but irksome in the 
XXXXXXXXXX application;
Poor Man’s Sceptre, for it towers to no purpose and is easily brought low by
XXXXXXXXXX violence and yet persists in the realm of the commonplace
XXXXXXXXXX and is a sign of incongruous grandeur; 
Remember-the-Miner, for it digs deep into darkness and sojourns in bistered
XXXXXXXXXX galleries during its absence from the world;
Lunatic Poet, for it is ragged and cadaverous and dressed as a jester and is
XXXXXXXXXX bristly and unkempt and has much to complain of for it is 
XXXXXXXXXX cruelly neglected and yet blossoms unceasingly and is 
XXXXXXXXXX unaccountably jubilant; 
Membrum Virilis, for it rises from a fat taproot and a squat glandular tuft and
XXXXXXXXXX lengthens and thickens with small provocation and seeds
XXXXXXXXXX copiously regardless;
Devil’s Quill, for by moving in wind it may forge invisibly the signature of God
XXXXXXXXXX in paraphs and precessions of the tip; 
Place-Pincher, for it is written that it pinches place from peripheries where
XXXXXXXXXX places cannot be and weathers storms by doggedness;
Yellowjack, for its is nubbled and bisqued all the way up with canary. 

Sieur Mességué says
that it drives away malevolent spirits
and dispels the trance,
but evidence is lacking in the sequel;
and Magister L’Ormsby of the Celibate Habitat
who is contrary in most things 
deposes that talc of Mullein
suppresses the itch and promotes concentration,
yet Ormsby is prolific in his inheritors;
and Fabius Calumna in his lost compendium
is rumoured to have credited Mullein
with virtues in excess of its designations,
yet none are now known to man.
And thus we are compelled to revel in the lexicon
for lack of referents and proofs. 




TDR is produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

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ISSN 1494-6114. 

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