Patricia L. Hamilton




Bad Word


Red spots flaring on her copper cheeks,
raven-haired Rosa spat a single word
into the playground dirt,
raising a small puff of dust.
It sounded like an arrow whooshing past
to stick in a rough-barked tree trunk.
After recess some pint-sized prosecutor
charged Rosa before our frowning teacher
and called me as a witness. 
Did I or did I not hear her say a bad word?
I hardly knew. I tried to conjure its sound:
a sigh with a fishhook on the end.
Which part was bad?
I weighed my choices: snitch or shrug?
Rosa remained mute, smoke-black eyes
giving nothing away.

Years later I recognized the word,
realized she was guilty. Did her escape
from the fierce tether-ball slap
of schoolyard justice tame her tongue?
Or did she take up target practice,
arrow-straight epithets hitting every mark,
final consonants pinning their victims
with the precision of a knife-thrower?




Patricia L. Hamilton is the author of The Distance to Nightfall (Main Street Rag, 2014).  A native Californian, she is a professor of English in Jackson, TN.  She won the 2015 and 2017 Rash Award in Poetry and has received 3 Pushcart nominations.








                                    

 

Home
Current Issue
Submissions
Contributors' Notes


Email this poem Printer friendly page

A CLOSER LOOK: J.T. Ledbetter

Debra Bruce

Joseph J. Capista

Don Colburn

Robert Fillman

Patricia L. Hamilton

Jo Hausam

Remembering Rod Jellema

Peter Leight

Moira Linehan

Martina Reisz Newberry

James B. Nicola

William Page

Andrea Potos

Steven Reese

Will Reger

Wlliam Rivera

Tim Suermondt

Adam Tavel

Terence Winch

Anne Harding Woodworth on Terence Winch

Anne Harding Woodworth on Baron Wormser

Tim Youngs

More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 


Last Updated: Aug 27, 2018 - 11:36:45 AM

Copyright 2005 - 2018 Cook Communication.