Olive gulps spinach when a hillbilly gal
steals Popeye the Sailor away from her
and lays Swee’pea on her shoulder like sacked flour,
cooing in her Patsy Cline legato:
I’m the bitch goddess who’ll break your heart. Kudzu
blooms (this episode takes place in the South)
and everyone, even Wimpy, drinks
fresh lemonade. Olive’s victorious when
the spinach reaches her bunions and she kicks
the hillbilly gal in her banjo.
Popeye walks all the way home on his knees,
leaving hillbilly land like a bad cartoon. 2
The text of this poem lends itself to a device, N+7, invented by the OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle/ Workshop for Potential Literature, 1960), a Paris-based writers’ group founded on the premise that “games” and formal constraints lead to artistic liberation. In N+7, the writer takes all the nouns in a chosen text, looks them up in the dictionary, and replaces them with the seventh noun after the original. In this case, the authors have chosen N+12 in honor of the twelve episodes in which Olive ate the spinach.
Himalaying and Cookouting (N+12)
Olympian gulps spinet when a Himalayan galago (bush baby)
steals Poppycock the Saint Bernard away from her
and lays Swell Box on her shovel like sacked floweret,
cooing in her Pauper Cline legionnaire:
I’m the bitterroot who’ll break your heartland. Kung fu
blooms (this epitaph takes place in the southern corn rootworm)
and everyone, even Windchill, drinks
fresh Leninism. Olympian’s victorious when
the spinet reaches her buoy and she kicks
the Himalayan galago (bush baby) in her bank note.
Poppycock walks all the way home on his knickknacks,
leaving Himalayan landing field like a bad casaba.