Home >> Volume 1, Issue 03

Poem Beginning

With a Line by Wallace Stevens

Thomas DeFreitas

It is the word pejorative that hurts
and the word sibling
that makes us lisp and wince
and the word raspberry that puzzles us
with its absence of rasp
and the word secular which
pertains to centuries
as fleet as milliseconds
in eternity’s view—
the word subtle,
a rogue that digs our ribs
with a sly, furtive glare—
the word vehicular, always one
of Deb’s favorites, and the word blithe
like an embarrassing lick on the end
of a leash. And vehement
is spearmint-flavored, unlike government,
and tongues wag like tails
of the unforeseen.

It is the word bowdlerize
that bamboozles, confuses, and throws
us for a loop. It is the word
boycott wearing a two-horned
helmet like a post-modern
Viking. It is the word memento
which news-anchors mispronounce,
and all the critics get
flubbed up on Semitic.
It is the word margarine
that looks like margarita.
Oblivious gets our goat if it’s seen
without of. It is averse from
that goes about town
impeccably tailored.
Vouchsafe and deign collide
like clanging thuribles. Hallowed asks for
and receives three syllables.
It is the word silent
that rhymes with

It is the word barbarian
that causes us to flinch.
It is the word avuncular
that coughs and smokes a pipe.
It is the word hirsute that plays a flute.

It is the word unkempt that sounds
so participial! It is the word
inchoate, cold as March,
that makes us search for April’s