by Gregory Pardlo
“If we cannot distinguish tenor from vehicle,
then we may provisionally take the word to be literal.”
—I. A. Richards
It means to transfer or carry, “carry on with your
bad self,” my father would probably add, inflating
the definition to a conceit. I once thought my father was,
in the sense that means to hamper or impede,
an embarrassment, which is, returning to the matter
at hand, a metaphor, but I can’t say what is being
carried or by what agent. Richards says a metaphor
consists of a tenor and a vehicle. My father would
point out, just to fuck with him, that Richards is using
a metaphor to define metaphors, a literalization,
like when Richards asks if a wooden leg is a metaphor
when someone has a wooden leg. My late father,
Gregory Pardlo, Sr., lost his leg to diabetes. How un-
like himself he worked to match the prosthesis to his
skin tone! This is the same guy who gave me
a Hot Wheels car for Christmas. A joke, see. He’d promised
me a car when I turned sixteen. It shimmers on my
desk now, a gaudy muse with shark’s teeth decals behind
the wheel well. Before he died, I told him I would have
preferred a Matchbox car packaged in an actual matchbox,
literalizing the figurative commingling of tenor and vehicle,
more metonym than metaphor, a pedigree, in other words.
He told me to get the stick out of my ass. Greg Pardlo
is dead. Long live Greg Pardlo, with your bad self.
Copyright 2017 by Gregory Pardlo. All rights reserved.
See two more poems Pardlo debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: “Convertible” and “Supernatural Bread.”
Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay| Writing Prompts
Exciting online journal! I really got to know important information about Pardlo.