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"Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." Leonard Cohen

Thursday, April 3, 2014



The female, her, the distaff one
thought, on the side
of sound sense
Her, the feminine one
united in matrimony to the male,
to tarry, to effect the bringing back
of him, the hirsute one
So in harmony, next to each other
and belonging to them—
although smaller in comparison—
the boy

Contrary to expectation,
at which time the male returns
It's with another woman,
a Yankee,
joined in wedded bliss
Filled with disgrace,
the feminine one
of the first instance
takes her own life.

Oulipost #3 - Definitional Lit - the challenge being: Take a single sentence from a newspaper article. Replace each meaningful word in the text [verb, noun, adjective, adverb] by the dictionary definition. Repeat this treatment on the resulting sentence and so on, until you've had enough! Note that after only 2 such treatments with a relatively compact dictionary, even a 2-word sentence can produce an accumulation of 57 words.

Source Text: Edmonton Journal, Thursday April 3, 2014 - Section "What's On", Article "Butterfly Marks opera anniversary". (Dictionary used for alternate definitions - The Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

Note - taking liberties with the instructions, I used only part of the title, and I decided to use two sentences (not one) and only one run-through with the alternate definitions.

Here is the "original" text:

Butterfly Marks
She thinks, with reason, that she is married to him, and waits for his return together with their little son. But when he does come back, he has his American wife on his arm, and in shame, she commits suicide.

*artwork - fbouvier


  1. Wow is right. I've never seen this particular type of challenge before. I'm going to have to investigate this one, if only for a post to my website. Thsi is cook, difficult, and mind-boggling--all rolled up in a sentence result that defies modern language. Great work, Sharon.

  2. Cool, Sharon! I like these Oulipo challenges.

  3. Fascinating what came out of the definition replacements. Gorgeous photo.


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