Magazine | December 18, 2017, Issue

Poetry

THE ‘F’ WORD

My mother would withhold from me most news,

Because my constant questions — like a plague

Of locusts — flew at her, till she would lose

Her patience, as I lost mine with the vague.

Forgotten, even when I over-think,

Are times I forced some awkward situation –

But one day, drying dishes at the sink,

I voiced the rudest term for copulation.

She labored to my left, aloof and cool,

And deftly swept the plates with suds, to pour

With style, while I stood upon a stool,

About the fragile age of five or four.

Where I first heard the word did not perplex.

We lived among bold soldiers on a base

Where daily she was “praised” for her fair sex.

She dropped a dish — a rare retreat from grace.

The two of us paused stiffly at our task,

The kitchen atmosphere around us dim,

As doubtless she thought, “Did you have to ask?”

And doubtless also cursed, resenting him.

The climax to the scene, I can’t recall;

But just that sudden fracture of the plate.

But only shame, with shock, I could appall –

By one small sound — the powerful and great.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Rise to Global Power

Robert Merry sets out to revive William McKinley’s middling reputation by recognizing the 25th president as the shrewd, unheralded father of the military-commercial expansionism that underwrote America’s global ...

Sections

Letters

Letters

What Does NAFTA Do? Kevin D. Williamson’s fulsome praise of NAFTA (“What NAFTA Does,” November 13) notwithstanding, the primary goal of NAFTA is to provide American manufacturers with unfettered access to ...
The Week

The Week

‐ “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, women want me to feel them up while they’re sleeping on airplanes.” ‐ Roy Moore, Republican candidate in a special election ...
Poetry

Poetry

THE ‘F’ WORD My mother would withhold from me most news, Because my constant questions — like a plague Of locusts — flew at her, till she would lose Her patience, as I lost ...
Happy Warrior

The Bed Menace

‘Opinion: If you let boys be boys, they will murder their fathers and sleep with their mothers,” ran a tweet from the New York Times the other day.

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More