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TWO POEMS from “AWKWORDS” by Holly Painter

 

"Most people don’t know what gam means."Gam

This one’s not exactly dirty, just strange.
Gam means leg, but while I often say leg,
I rarely use gam. Why not? Why not change
it up? Well first, I’d get a lot of “Beg

your pardon?” Most people don’t know what gam
means. Even Word and Gmail underline
the word in red and suggest that I am
trying to spell game or gem, a sure sign

that it’s outside our common vernacular.
But if someone did know gam, she’d probably
also know that it refers in particular
to a woman’s leg, a fetching, shapely

leg, and then I’d just sound like an over-
educated, archaic cat-caller.

 

Nubile

It turns out that nubile is every bit
as sleazy as it sounds. First, it only
applies to young women, and it means “fit
to marry,” in terms of age or comeliness.

(In fact, nuptial shares the same Latin
root, referring again to marriage.)
But marriageable is not the definition
we know. Instead nubile is a gauge

of how attractive or well-developed
a young women is, sexually speaking.
Ideally, she’s a virgin, uncorrupted.
Chaste but alluring, pure but reeking

pheromones. But unless your goal is never
to get laid, don’t use the word nubile. Ever.

 

Poet’s Note: These poems come from “Awkwords,” a collection of 70 poems about awkward words like flagellate, milk, suckle, and wasps. For each of these words, I have written a sonnet. Why a sonnet? Because it’s a completely inappropriate form for the content of this project. Awkward.

 

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