Friday, June 15, 2007

Beautiful Outlaw

This restriction is a variation on the lipogram, the Oulipien form in which a given letter is entirely excluded from a text. Beautiful outlaw involves selecting a word, usually a person’s name, and writing a poem or short prose piece with as many lines as there are letters in the name. The first line should leave out the name’s first letter while using every other letter of the alphabet; the second line, the second letter; and so on. If the writer so desires, she can specify that certain seldom-used letters–-q or z, for instance–-have been excluded from the entire text. But in my opinion, what fun is that?

In the piece below, the outlaw word is Luna, the name of a favorite band.


Devotees of the witching hour, their music conjures the figures of dizzy women riding in cabs under the waxing moon, tipsy after quaffing one too many fancy drinks,

Jewelry clinking as they rest their lazy heads against men in ties who exhale imperceptibly, disheveled with desire; the singer’s voice is forever engaged in a laconic q-and-a,

Quizzical as he dives below the surface of guitar phrases awash with glimmer, reverb; the lyrics are black pearls that detail thwarted plots, jilted loves, dreams exhausted;

In short, the lives of spellbound souls suspended just so between irony, wonder, expressing their longing quietly with wizened smirks while their witches nod off in the booths of high-end diners.

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