Words [Marjorie Maddox]

O comrade of mightier-than-the-sword, more vulnerable
since vulnerable is the scythe declaring science (base
and lowly, striped of its warrior prince title) meant
for the gallows or chopping block of evidence. Based
on what? Emperor with no clothes, who abhors the diversity
of your letters, who squirms at the fetus

of consummated thought; naked dictator, who won’t defeat us,
armed with our transgendered words, no longer vulnerable
to such sharp taunts and poison proclamations. Divert! This city
of syllables is stronger than He-Who-Abandons-Science based
on “very stable genius,” on slaughtering evidence based
on fact; thoughtcrimes stoned, entitlements

drowned in a  river overflowing with entire bins
of oil. Give us your huddled in the womb, your fetus
waiting to speak freely her own evidence based
(not!) on your golf-course delegations vulnerable
to who arrives first at the Country Club of No Science-Based
Utterances Allowed, let alone parsing diversity.

KKK? Transgender? He stutters, “Yes/maybe/no”; no diversity
of lack of experience, though, bought-and-sold titles meant
to pretend homage not to science but the “base.”
O words, which need not throw out fetus
with the bathwater, which can still care for the vulnerable
with the strong, which can still narrate protests as evidence based

on reality, not fake news. O words based on evidence.
O words, which can still respect the diversity
of faiths, which, unafraid of being vulnerable,
can whisper, shout, sing, entitle truths meant
for all, even the silent, even the fetus
cradled in the transcribed, deleted, or science-based

questions of elementary science, based
on the universal questions of who we are, base-evidence
collected not as propaganda, but as discussion. Fetus,
transgender, entitled are not the enemy. Embrace the diversity
of thought and speak clearly words meant
for dialog not destruction. Be true. Be vulnerable

but stronger than swords; diverse in your advocacy
for the downcast; outspoken for science and faiths.
Base every powerful, vulnerable word on entitled love.


Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry, the short story collection What She Was Saying, 4 children’s books, and the anthology Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); see www.marjoriemaddox.com

Inspiration: Seven words forbidden for use by the CDC—how could I not respond with a modified sestina: six words—plus one more slipped in—that refused to be silenced?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s