We said we couldn’t say the word
where children might hear,
and this was not the time to start
that argument, what with the sucking
chest wound and all, so best wait
in subbasement D until yesterday—
but we interrupted us to say the word
as pump-action chk-chk in the silence
of a dark house. The silencer
stuck over each speaker’s voicebox
marked whose turn to talk.
Many began with anti- and ended
the fight with bang bang bang
on joystick buttons. Some spun
another war-orphan story
with more shrapnel and drone strikes
and award-winning pictures
of raindrops atop a cheek scar.
When an expert fieldstripped the word
in under a minute blindfolded,
who was able to reassemble
extra F’s and extraordinary renditions
and the rush of oil fracking wellbores
into a sound resembling the word
except shorter and louder?
What would an ex-ditchdigger know
about holes in walls and prison
demographics and memories blurry
from teargas? Every mention of them
left space where listeners filled in
the gays, Chinese, or Jews.
To compromise, we made up
facts linking automatic transmissions
and autism and things we ought
not utter. We demanded the word
be reclassified by consensus as passive
and a misunderstanding
between moot and mute. The word
we murdered by persons unknown.