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My poetry sisters and I decided to write "odes" in the month of May to post for the first Poetry Friday in June. Odes are an interesting thing: there are classical forms going way back to Pindar and Homer, and there are more modern ones that are a bit more loosey-goosey. The key thing is that an ode is a poem in praise of something in particular.

We decided to write them in praise of something humorous. Or humorous odes about regular stuff. Whichever, it was hard for me to get off the ground for the longest time last month, in large part because I was in mourning for my friend Kevin "Slatts" Slattery. I kept thinking how much I hate cancer, often including a choice swear-word in the mix.

That's when it occurred to me to write about that word. I think Kevin would have liked this one.

Ode to the F-word
by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

So flexible are you, you can fold yourself
into at least five parts of speech and to fathoms
of meaning, fornication to frustration.

As noun, you denote both congress and, on
occasion, Congress, though usually as part
of a compound noun invoking the matriarchy.

You serve, too, to denote the slightest amount
of anything. I don’t give you, or perhaps I have
run out of you. Sometimes you are even in flight.

You become personified by adding an -er,
become a blunder with up, whatever with all.
Your flexion is phenomenal.

Verbwise, you fly free solo, both sex act
and damnation. You are impolite, in either case,
and usually unapologetic.

Sometimes you are directional - off or up, say -
others, a directive, paired with me, you,
her, them or some other pronoun variant.

Alternately adverb or adjective, you enhance
whatever you advance, making ridiculous
the sublime or simple, like “awesome” or “stupid”,

displaying derision with your vile vernacular
as when added in the midst of queries, such as
“are you _____ kidding me?”

verier than “very” when added to things like
tired or hungry or horny, that last one used
unironically by most native speakers.

You are used to praise nearly as often
as to condemn, and known by all, even
those who rarely speak you aloud.

Even my grandfather, pinnacle that he was,
displayed his proficiency after his stroke, when
a handful of words and no inhibitions remained:

“Fuck you, sonofabitch,” he’d say,
most often to his caretakers.
“I love you too,” they’d respond.

You can find the other odes here:

Andi wrote an ode to knitting. She's at A Wrung Sponge.
Tricia was the first of us to finish, and wrote an ode to toilets. Potties. Whatever you call them. She's at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
Laura wrote an ode to junk food, praising its additives and all. You can find her blog at her website.
Sara wrote an extremely diverting poem that I won't ID for you so you can enjoy figuring/finding it out yourself. She's at Read Write Believe.
Tanita wrote about her desire for adornment - a big deal to someone raised to eschew it. Her poem is at Fictions, Instead of Lies.
Liz wrote about her curly hair. You can find her at Liz in Ink.

Additional Poetry Friday posts can be found by clicking the link below:

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Jun. 5th, 2015 11:50 am (UTC)
Smart! I Feel Smart!
Can reading a poem make you feel smart? This one does! I guffawed my way through and then, felt like patting myself on the back because I actually GOT all those references. But really, you are the smarty pants for writing it. Glad you spent time contemplating the word, but I'm sorry for what inspired it.

Fucking awesome poem my dear!
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart! I Feel Smart!
Thanks, Tricia! I'm so glad this poem is such a "hit"! (And you are a smarty pants no matter what!!)
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Jun. 5th, 2015 12:22 pm (UTC)
New Link
P.S. - Liz's poem is at her new author site!
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC)
Re: New Link
Liz Garton Scanlon
Jun. 5th, 2015 02:01 pm (UTC)
f*** yes!
Kelly, what you've done here is so smart and so very funny, until suddenly it isn't. I just loved this piece, start to finish....
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: f*** yes!
Thank you, sweet friend!
Jun. 5th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
*thunderous applause*

This is brilliant, witty, and f***ing awesome through and through. I love your alliterative turns of phrase and spot on comic delivery (such apt tongue-in-cheekness, such restraint!). A masterpiece, Kelly! One of my favorite poems of yours ever. :D

Jun. 5th, 2015 09:05 pm (UTC)
Jama, you've made me blush! Thank you for your effusive praise!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jenn!
TS Davis
Jun. 5th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
SO witty with the vile vernacular!!!
Heh. "Verier" than very. Verily!
I love this so much.
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
Re: SO witty with the vile vernacular!!!
You know, I almost put "verily" in the poem, but thought that might be overkill. Smooch!!
Buffy Silverman
Jun. 5th, 2015 09:18 pm (UTC)
This is brilliant, Kelly...you had me at "you denote both congress and, on
occasion, Congress," and kept me laughing until your heartbreaking and uninhibited ending. Thanks for sharing this.
Jun. 6th, 2015 12:45 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you stopped by, and that you enjoyed the poem. Thanks, Buffy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Jun. 6th, 2015 10:39 am (UTC)
I love a poem that surprises. You dance around that f*** right up to the end, when you deliver it with a zing to the heart.
Jun. 8th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
I considered dropping the last stanza so as to avoid actual use of the word, but my poetry sisters told me unequivocally that it had to stay. I'm so glad you liked it.
Jun. 6th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
Kelly, this is wonderful. Sassy, funny, and even tasteful. I love it,
Jun. 8th, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
Re: Fan-[REDACTED]-Tastic!
Thank you, Jim!
Sara Lewis Holmes
Jun. 6th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
The unwavering, thorough manner in which you analyze and catalogue and lay out for readers every nuance of this word is hilarious. It's like those comedies where the more serious the actor is, the funnier his lines. Brava! And then...just when we are feeling clever with you, you slice open our hearts and we recognize ourselves in your grandfather's pain. Isn't that what the f-word is for? Acknowledging the mixed up awfulness and brilliance of life, especially when it is unfair and too short. Fuck cancer forever.
Jun. 8th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
I so agree with your conclusion. Seriously. Thank you for your comments, and for all we do together.
Andi Sibley
Jun. 24th, 2015 06:03 pm (UTC)
Kelly, this is absolutely brilliant for everything Sara says. One can go on forever about the didactical and syntactical, but at heart is is a painfully useful word. You've done it justice my friend.
Jun. 26th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Andi!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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