Dwellan to Dwelled

Dwellan, in old Teutonic tongues that word was much nuanced,
but never meant anything remotely near home-sweet-home.
Dwellan, dwellen, dwelljenan,
to make a fool of, to deceive, mislead,
not to stay safely put but to be led astray,
to be stunned and perplexed by the world,
and so to become dangerously giddy then to fall into a stupor,
to taste a narcotic berry, to devour a deadly nightshade,
to lapse into error and so to spiral into madness,
and from madness into heresy and perhaps to burn at the stake.
Those were the myriad meanings of dwellan.
But a living language wags a restless tongue
and is never frozen in one position, time, or place,
unlike so many speakers of that tongue.
And so somewhere, sometime in medieval England,
one banana peel slip-up canceled a lifetime of prudently paced steps
and left one delayed, lingering, hindered, a pratfall clown
obsessed with that one mindless misstep
where at that place, when at that time, in Chaucer’s English
one pitched a domicile of regrets and within it, dwelled.

About the author

Richard Fein has been published in many fine web journals, such as Exquisite Corpse, Maverick, Miranda Literary Magazine and Terrain. Richard's chapbook is slated…

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Issue 03 · February 2009

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