Ray DiPalma’s new book, Obedient Laughter (Los Angeles, Otis Books /Seismicity Editions) is made up of six sections, all of which showcase DiPalma’s lifelong exploration of the uses of language “without a fixed destination, as a matter of form,/bargaining notations, mnemonic targets, omertà.”
The longest and most engaging section of the new book is called “Equivoques,” which consists of forty-five pages of mostly two-line pieces that seem to be part fortune cookie, part fractured syllogism, with puns, mondegreens, and other odd, playful, wise, and inventive uses of language throughout. Here are some of my favorites:
AS THOUGHT OCCURS
Microcurrents are detectable in the finger muscles.
WHEN I DIE
That’ll be the day.
Now living in the penthouse by the reservoir.
A WHITE SPORT COAT
And a pink potato.
OUT OF EGYPT
Into the frying pan.
DOGS FOR THE DEAD
’Scuse me, you misunderstood, it’s dogs for the deaf.
SACRED AND UNDENIABLE
No, Tom, let’s go with self-evident.
BUT DON’T GET ME WRONG
I wish they all could be hallelujah girls.
THE DEAD MARX BROTHER
HE’S A GREAT IRISH MUSICIAN AND POET
But how many more times can he get beat up?
CORRUPTION DEMON WORSHIP AND SORCERY
Further reasons the pump don’t work.
COPLAND’S APPALACHIAN SPRING OR BARBER’S MEDEA SUITE
WRITING SLOWLY ENOUGH
For the ink to flow through the letters.
HOW HAVE YOU CONDUCTED YOURSELF IN THIS LIFE
Because now awaiting you on the other side are 72 vegans.