Today's poem is by David Kirby

I'm Kind of a Whore, But She's, Like, Way a Whore
        overheard in front of the building where I teach

                            this is the kind of thing that makes me happy.
              Not that the young women are whores,
but that the world is so generous with its gifts: coffee, for example,
                            and newspapers. New clothes, to be sure,
              but old ones as well: stretchy sweaters, jeans with
holes where the knees should be, caps with ragged

                            brims. The world gives us alcohol, sunshine,
music, and, if we're lucky, all three together:
              what could be better than getting tipsy with
                            your friends on a Saturday morning as the sounds
of the Stones or the Grateful Dead roll out
              of the speakers and the meat turns slowly on the spit?

                            The world gives us not only our friends
but our sweethearts as well, and what brings more pleasure
              than the deliciousness of their flesh with
                            its fragrance of meadow grass, of warm bread?
As it gives us day, the world gives us
              night as well. "We're never the same at night,"

                            said Mark Twain. I wonder what he meant by that?
Oh, I know. Wait, I don't! I'm grateful
              for the knowledge I have—more each year, thanks to books
                            and the newspapers I've already thanked as well
as the Internet on which I looked up that quote
              and will now look up certain familiar English

                            words of foreign origin that you'll encounter
in a few stanzas, reader, if you'll bear with me—
              yet I'm equally pleased with my ignorance, for it, too,
                            grows yearly, giving me that much more to learn.
Maybe I heard the young woman wrong, and maybe
              she said something else entirely. Maybe she said

                            "Hoosier," not "whore," for it could be that she
and her friend are supporters of that perennially
              excellent basketball team, the friend simply more so.
                            So many wonderful words! All we need do
iS smack them together like cymbals for their
              beautiful noise to fly out. I might have heard

                            "adulterers" when she really said "adults,"
and isn't that what we send our daughters
              to college to become? Or not "fornicators"
                            but "formicologists," that is, students
of entomology with a special interest in ants—
              talk about a tough major! More girls should

                            be interested in science. Not "fellatio"
but "philately": they both collect stamps,
              and the speaker has just a few albums,
                            the other girl a lot. Thank you, world, for the pool
of my native tongue, filled first by the flow
              from two faucets, stately Latin and rude Anglo-Saxon,

                            and topped up since by every source: moccasin
from Algonquian, ketchup from the Amoy dialect
              of southeastern China, and algebra from
                            Arabic. Actually, the word al-jabr used
non-mathematically made its way into Europe
              through the Moors of Spain, and among them,

                            an algebrista was a bonesetter or restorer of bones,
for surely the parts of a shattered bone must
              be knit together as must the left and right side
                            of an equation. Everywhere the world is broken,
and only the poets can make it one again. I bet those two
              young women are doctors. No, wait—mathematicians.

Copyright © 2014 David Kirby All rights reserved
from A Wilderness of Monkeys
Hanging Loose Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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