Now Gulliver seemed the little man, punk
rocker, baby-faced spider falling through cracks.
He was pelted with boulder-apples, attacked
by a jealous dwarf who prided himself
on baubleness, his keen resemblance to elves.
Mishaps abounded: Peaches, hailstones, puppies’
toys were asteroids crashing, unlovely
bruises turning Gulliver green. History,
according to Gulliver, graphically
supported man’s victory over man,
Gulliver’s repulsion at making chairs
from a queen’s gray hair, thick as a tree trunk,
wiry as a frolicking splacknuck
on an isle of giants, all his hopes kerplunknuck.
MS: So this version of Gulliver didn’t make it into the original chapbook, but we did decide to include it in Caprice. I like the wordplay. Do you ever wish you could remember what lines you wrote, Denise? I appreciate the amnesia of a good collaboration, but once in a while…like “baby-faced spider”…who came up with that? Today I paired up my intro to creative writing students and asked them to merge their freewrites into collaborative pieces and present them to the class. They were terrific, of course—sometimes perfectly in sync, often hilarious and off-the-wall. But it was when they shared about their process that I was really moved—how they worked together for the sake of the poem, deciding which line would most successfully start the piece, which end it, and all those ego-less decisions in between. You and I have been doing that for years now and I’m kind of in awe about it. So: “baubleness”: yours or mine?—who cares?
DD: I remember we were embarrassed by all the “unks” and that’s why we didn’t include this one in our chapbook Little Novels. One of us—who knows which?—used “tree trunk” not knowing the final line would have to rhyme with “punk.” But now I think it’s so funny. I bet if this “mistake” happened to us today we’d exploit it and change all the remaining lines to end in an “unk” sound. The “splacknuck,” basically a weirdo or misfit, is a word right from the novel, then one of us took it on home with the made-up “kerplunknuck.” I did read Gulliver’s Travels in public high school and it was one of my favorites, second only to Catcher in the Rye. Even as a kid I was fascinated by big stuff and small stuff and how weird my chubby toddler hand looked rearranging furniture in a dollhouse. If I were a betting woman, I’d say you wrote “baby-faced spider,” but that would also have you writing “baubleness” which sounds more like it comes from my image wheelhouse. But our wheelhouses often intersect, our dollhouses full of acorns, marbles, grapes and other weird non-furniture furniture.