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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 125-126

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Cul-de-sac Linguistics

Cul-de-sac Linguistics

Today, the boys call each other penis.
Hey penis, commere, penis, pass me the ball,
penis. Last week it was whore, discovered

halfway through a game of h o r s e
on the mini-hoop that backs my fence.
And earlier this afternoon, the teenage girls

whose bedroom window stares
above my thumbnail yard improvised
outgoing messages in theatrical rapture:

first the easy scatological, then
a nursery rhyme that morphs
into an anti-homo riff so suddenly

I actually look up

to see if they're directing this at me
(they must be), down in the yard, reading poetry
as my girlfriend weeds the flower bed.

O, the high profanity of kickball games,
the rough posturing demanded
by even this tame street. Listen, they're learning

how well bastard fits with fucking, how ass
can't be mis-used. No one could hope to ease
their jagged entries into this profane world [End Page 125]

which is fucking beautiful, ass-bastard gorgeous,
the evening light wild and soaring
like kickballs on a true arc into flowerbeds

of penis tulips and pussy daffodils
that nod their heads in wild agreement
with the whorish, shit-loving lot of it.

Elizabeth Bradfield works as a naturalist and web designer in Anchorage, Alaska. Her poems have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Field, Bloom, and Poetry. She is founding editor of Broadsided –



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