“Men Who Become Verbs” by David Lerner Schwartz

Before my PhD, I collected words. Ways to describe plants: cruciferous, alliaceous, avenaceous. Animals: porcine, vespine, asinine. I liked their structure. I too longed to fit alongside the tongue and live adjacent to the idea. I wanted to be thought of. Just the other day, a friend I’d lost touch with asked me my favorite word. From childhood: lugubrious, because it was impressively melancholy. From yesterday: organon, because I wish I had one.

I want to be one of those men who become verbs. Like Franz Mesmer, the inventor of hypnosis, who gave us mesmerize. Did you know galvanize comes from the physicist Luigi Galvani? And nestorize is that wisest king of Pylos. Connections like these kept me sane during my dissertation. Maybe they kept me company, too.

He davidized me. Or: she’s better daviding than I am. See, I spent so long with the Oxford English Dictionary that now I david the others I read about, instead. We all want to name ourselves without forgetting who we are. I need history to tell me it davids me.


David Lerner Schwartz teaches writing and literature at the University of Cincinnati where he is a doctoral candidate. His work has been published in Ecotone, New Ohio Review, The Rumpus, and more. He holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. www.davidlernerschwartz.com

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