Daily Archives: July 7, 2009


Now, this is a mighty impressive word for a mighty, impressive person. Look at it: in the middle is potent – the word of power and prowess – and it’s flanked by torchbearers (i i); surrounding is a plenary session (conference terminology for “everyone attend!”). Three ascenders plus two dots and three descenders: it cuts a profile, and with six syllables and fifteen letters, it has two of many things: two dactyls, metrically; two p‘s, two e‘s, two n‘s, two i‘s, two t‘s. And a residue of l o ary. It bursts off the start with the plosive p spreading its aspiration onto the l, pops again at the second p and taps up the tension with ten. It’s like a drum flourish before a fanfare. But lest the one who is full of power get too full of himself, let it be remembered that this word contains within itself, awaiting the loss of but three letters (representing three phonemes), a nadir to match the zenith: penitentiary.