Our professor worked hard trying to convince us
that our words were all bastards who stunk like animals
as if they’d been alone in wild places for decades
and never bathed, having been given
all the room in the world in which to grow
as feral and stubborn as they could,
resisting our coaxing and coaching,
settling at last into rough roles they’d chosen,
milling about waiting to be consumed.
We knew better,
or more accurately believed we did,
or most accurately of all we did not care.
Instead we simply and deeply loved
the smell of our wild words, the pungency
that dragged behind them in long ribbons
doused in dirt and filth and all the taste and scent
of all the places they’d been and foraged
for health and truth and the teeth of engagement
as they tore at this world’s fabric.
It dawned on us while watching the professor fuss
and give up on us, that we’d begun
to draw away from him and his ilk and their scriptures
long before we’d met him, perhaps as early
as the day were were born;
at least as early as the day we dared
to try and tame the first salty, crazy syllable
that gained us a reprimand;
at least as early as the first time we said,
“let’s hear that again…” to words
with a rock beat in their mating calls
or stinging swarms of jazz notes
lighting up our tongues.
It dawned on us that night in the workshop
that we had learned long ago
how to run with the wildest of words.
We’d learned long before how to turn away
from a professor who was trying to tame us,
who needed so badly
to see us and our words tamed.