Carol Houck Smith, 1923-2008
Let's take this one out, my editor said,
my wise old editor, who rarely invoked
her privilege, two years from now
(it takes that long to go from manuscript
to print) no one will even remember
the word. And so I did.
You're thinking summer, theme parks,
a giant plastic slide turquoise and pink,
water streaming down its sinuous course
and clots of screaming children pouring past
in a state of ecstasy, while you sip gin
and tonic with friends.
Now under the shellac
of euphemism they're calling it
It follows on the heels of
Only the mockingbird is cleverer
warbling blithe lies from his tree.
From WHERE I LIVE: NEW & SELECTED POEMS 1990-2010 (W.W. Norton, 2010)