BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



16 MEDITATIONS ON Z FOR THE 2001 POEMS

WITH THE HELP OF MY CENTURY DICTIONARY



Z

#O1
02-26-01

The Zs are an odd collection of words. As
if they didn't really quite belong. Belong to
what? As if Z words were not quite respectable.
Many sound as if they were just made
up. Made up of what? And why? Pick zany
for a word, pick zygote. Quite a few --
if it can be said there are quite a
few -- come from Greek zygo-, yoke.




ZYGO-

#02
02-26-01

Yoga, too, means yoke. See I zygo- in yoga
or yoga in zygo-? Even my trained fingers
are not sure where Z is on the keyboard.
Under zygo-, in my dictionary, the first word
is zygodactyl, meaning a bird with two pairs of
two toes each, one pair front, one pair
back, the better, no doubt, to grasp twigs, boughs,
branches, trunks -- to zygo- against gravity.




ZOOPHAGOUS

#03
02-26-01

Zoophagous means: feeding on animals, carnivorous. It rings with
the threat that the guards at the zoo
will chase you, fine you, possibly incarcerate you, certainly
severely chastise you, shame you, make you feel
less than human, like an animal, hence a cannibal,
eating your own, digesting the fingers and toes
of cats, pachyderms, perhaps even zygodactyl birds, carnivorous cheetahs
-- a round robin of gastronomic feasting.




ZIRCON

#04
02-26-01

I thought the zircon was pale blue, but it
comes more from flame and vermilion, and jargon.
A zircon is tetragonal crystals of silicate of zirconium,
opaque or transparent, the latter, gems of reddish-brown
and reddish-orange, called jacinth and hyacinth. Colorless, pale yellow
or smoky Ceylonese ones are known as jargon.
I cannot improve on this bare-rock description, including the
-cinth twins, straight from the book.




ZANY

#05
02-27-01

Zany shifted from primarily noun to primarily adjective in
a century's fraction: from a zany, to just
being zany. Beginning as Italian Giovanni, Gianni, zanni (which
is John or Jan), a clown mimic-er, assistant,
name became description. Thomas Hardy wrote this zany sentence:
"What a zany an old chap must be
to light a bonfire when there's no youngsters to
please." Except zany thee and me.




Z PEOPLE

#06
02-27-01

Trying to find out just a bit more, from
my Century Dictionary, about Zoroaster/Zarathustra, I consult
its Biographical Names (one of the glorious Supplements, probably
not in your dictionary) and find -- guess what?
Thirty-three Z people. Thirty-three! My heart does a flip-flop.
Thus are great, next-projects born. Who could resist
thirty-three poems about thirty-three Z people. We, the royal
we, will begin our next project

with Zadkiel and finish with Zwingli. And, since this
list comes from the thirties, if I don't
find a few -- ah! fleeting fame, fleeting history -- I
may add a modern or post-modern or two
-- or three -- to appease the numerological icon, superstition, gleeful
eccentricity by which I choose to venerate my
birth-date and the thirty-three million Hindu Gods at large
-- which I try to discover, honor.




ZEAL

#07
02-28-01

Ah ha! At last a real word hanging out
among the Zs, with meaning, history, not just
a substitute, as if alphabeters had demanded one use
up a few Zs for animals, minerals and
plants: zebra, zebu, zingel, zoril, zamia, zaffer, zaratite, zoisite,
zinnia, zacaton, zingiberaceous... but then I can't even
find a fourth plant. So my perception was fallacious.
One spies zealot, zealotry and blushes.




ZOON

#08
02-28-01

"In zool., any of the individuals of a compound
animal."* But what is a compound animal? Are
we dipping farther back in man's mythos than the
'30s? Does zoon mean griffin, centaur, unicorn? Puzzled,
I'm not sure if zool. refers to zoology or
zoolatry, perhaps a zoolite -- surely whatever lives only
within a zoarium. My OED on loan, at home
there's no way to check farther.


*Collier's New Century Dictionary, 1936, p. 2248





ZILLION

#09
02-28-01

My computer speller suggests alternatives, zillions of them, for
most Z word from the first third of
the last Century. For zoon, it gives ozone, zoo,
soon, zoom, zoos, for zooaltry it gives me
solitary, salutary or sultry, for zoolite it gives me
solute or salute, for zoarium it gives me
cerium. Ignorance or evolution? It, of course, has zillion,
but my Century Dictionary does not.




ZOMBIE

#10
02-28-01

Would you believe that zombie is missing, too? In
Random's small, '98 dictionary its sources is given
as voodoo. I race back in the Century alpabet
to see if voodoo made it in the
'30s. It is there. The computer speller, too, knows
zombie(s). It does not, of course, comment that
so many would become zombies, "corpse(s) supernaturally imbued with
the semblance of life"* by 2001.


*Random House Webster's Dictionary, 3rd Edition, 1998, p. 834





ZIGGURAT/ZIKKURAT

#11
03-01-01

Monument in the desert, temple, stepped pyramid, public works
project, possibly that from which the Babylonian gardens
hung, possibly tower from which languages divvied into mutual
incomprehensibility. It is difficult for us to conceptualize
ziggurat, stupa, Borobodur, Angkor, Teotihuacan: solid monuments, open steps,
corridors -- a weird way of life, of worship.
Our highest towers in the West are office buildings.
We, pragmatic, use temple-architecture for banks.




ZERO

#12
03-01-01

Perhaps the most famous Z of them all, zero,
the naught, the ought, the very essence of
nothingness, the origin of all measurement, a nonentity; zero
hour, the time at which anything, everything, all
begins. It makes higher mathematics possible. We derived our
religion of World Trade from it, and half
the function of the computer's brain. The Arabic cipher,
emptiness, Buddha's Nirvana, the Tao, Maya.




ZEITGEIST

#13
03-02-01

Well, we all know this one, a little old-fashioned
now, but still used: defined, uncapitalized, in the
Century as: "[German, 'time-spirit.'] The spirit of the time."
And we all know what that means: something,
that no specific one is a part of, a
composite "drift of thought" montaged by the media,
gossip, fashion, a coagulation that leaves the lives of
most in the world unmentioned, untouched.

Like the overlay of the media on the recent
end-of-February earthquake: their constant reinforcement of it as
disaster, frightening, terrible, when almost everyone I spoke with,
unhurt, called it "quite a ride," "amazing," even
"delightful." Deviants, obviously, from the zeitgeist, pervesely willing to
watch with enjoyment while nature played her game --
a feeling unallowed by the uniformizing "recorders of 'history'"
who see, propagate a knee-jerk zeitgeist.




ZINC

#14
03-03-01

Ooooooo, I thought zinc was just a plain old
metal, metallic element, and I was, therefore, semi-avoiding
it. But watch its permutations: zincate, zincic, zinciferous, zincify,
zinfication, zincite; also to zinc, zincked or zinced,
zincking or zincing. (In the secret substructure I've consistently
typed s for z -- my fingers not really
knowing where the z-key is.) Then we go on
into zinckenite, or zinkenite named for

J. K. L. Zincken, who, though he got into
the language (rarely), didn't make the Biographical Names
Supplement of the Century. Interesting that. But this is
anticipating the forthcoming Z People. So onward we
go with zinckic, zinckiferous, zincky, zinco-, zincograph, zincography, zincographic,
zincotype, zincous, zincy, ending with a female Gipsy:
Zingara from the Italian! Almost as great a ride
as the day-or-two-ago 6.8 earthquake.

P.S. The Computer Speller knows almost none of
these magnificent Zs. Nor can it read but one
word or write but single corrections at a time.
Talk about zincographic-like, acid-etched, linear thought!




ZONARY

#15
03-03-01

Zonary (O beautiful word) simply refers one to zonal,
which, among its definitions, houses: "in bot., noting
that view of a diatom in which the zone
or suture of the valves is presented to
the eye (cf. [confer] valval)," which takes us, unexpectedly,
to the Vs -- a trip in itself (who'd
have thought there were so many of this questioned
letter, when z, another late-comer, has

so few?) Here, there is a slight disagreement, id
est
, valval specifically says "one valve" not "valves."
Hmmmm. Carelessness? A casual or causal distinction? Maybe no
distinction at all, the actual quotes are quite
diffrent: "in bot., the view of a diatom in
which the surface of one of the valves
is turned to the observer: cf. zonal." Ah ha!
Back to Z's (zonarius') home again!




ZILLAH

#16
03-03-01

Here we are, already, at 16, the end of
my Z commitment. Had I remained conscious that
we would arrive so quickly, would I have spent
less time on charming nonsense and more time
on philosophy? Or is nonsense philosophy? Maybe philosophy is
nonsense. In any case, one sees the Z's
are a singular species, Eliter (choosier) then Z, however,
is X. Vis-a-vis my two in-use-dictionaries,

they suggest there were a hellava lot more Xs
(in the Century) two-thirds of a century ago.
According to Random House (paperback) '98, one might ask:
Why do we need Xs at all? Except
for Xerox and Xerxes and, Ah yes, xenophobia -- the
list grows. Nonetheless, in the Century's Biographical Xs
(there are only seven) it seems it was necessary
to neglect Xanthippe (wife of Socrates),

even though within the alphabetical Xs it notes she
made it into the language (unflatteringly). Is this
Feminism? Male chauvinism? Anti-feminism? Am I a Xantippe for
mentioning it? I can see my alphabetical province
(zillah) growing, growing, beyond all bounds, reason, multiplying exponentially,
for, as Roethke said: "Words are everything else
in the world." Or was it Stevens? Now onto
biographicalizing the 33 Century Z people.






More of The 2001 Poems




Copyright © 2002 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jjhaag@gmail.com

MASTER LIST: ALL POEMS


BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO

21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context