I learned to curse
on the south central side
of Los Angeles-
the alleys, corners,
Playgrounds, and dead ends
were my classrooms.

These were real curse words
that spoke of boorish acts with parents,
body parts, intercourse requests,
eternal sentencing, female dogs,
topped off with both traditional and
creative ethnic names.
Ingenious words that caused
both laughter and grimace.

These words were used to insult you,
define your social status,
divulge secrets about you that
you did not know you even had and
scared you for life if you were not
quick tongued enough to verbalize
your thoughts about every aspect of
your opponent.

These war words came long before young men
discussed the size or relationship of
“Your Mama”
Before cuttin, dissin, shamein, dogin
were turned into rhymes and rapped out
over a scratch. These words always
turned to violence if you were too
good or could not think of
anything to say. The winner was
determined by the last boy standing.
Often you lost both ways.

Ignorantly I have used these
words on my brothers and sisters,
educated the surfers in Malibu,
scared the rich guys in the
Hollywood Hills parties,
enraged a few pickup truck
drivers who like to wear their
bedding on their heads and
unknowingly taught my children
a few choice words
overhearing my frustration

In my youth this knowledge
was a necessary part of survival.
Now that I am older this knowledge,
like Latin, is a dead language
where single words used only in the
rarest of times spoken in private
while dancing the stub toe hop or
the smashed hand jerk.

I must confess full sentences have
resurrected when Bush was re-elected,
a child was found dead,
once to inform a man holding a
Knife that terrible things would
happen to him if he did not
remove it from my face, and
one sacrilegious moment when
my daughter was diagnosed
with cancer.

I learned to curse
on the south central side
of Los Angels
It is a part of my past
Determined now to share only words
that perpetuate life.

However….. from time to time…..
the best word,
the only word,
the exact right word
for this ridicules situation…. is………Fuck you!.


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