Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Down Dark Alleys"

This poem is spillover from the November 5, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from rix_scaedu. It also fills the "Diversity / Homogeneity" square in my 10-31-19 card for the People-watching Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.


"Down Dark Alleys"


People talk about
how English needs
to be protected so it
won't degenerate.

The problem with
defending the purity of
the English language
is that English is
about as pure as
a cribhouse whore.

It doesn't just borrow words;
on occasion, English has pursued
other languages down dark alleys
to beat them unconscious and rifle
their pockets for loose grammar
and valuable vocabulary.

It stole place names from tribes
of whom those names are now
the only thing that remains.

It's not a safe occupation,
of course -- Norse gave
as good as it got, which is
why there are no more gat.

Every time someone talks,
you can hear heels clicking
on cobblestones and shadows
laughing in dark alleys.

History isn't dead:
it lives and breathes
in our very own lungs,
speaks with our tongues.

* * *

Notes:

This is a common paraphrasing of something writer James Nicoll composed in a discussion group many moons ago (source long gone):
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

Gat is an old plural of goat.
"Well, imagine if more than one goat was a bunch of gat, or if more than one oak tree was a field of ack."
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, history, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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