Badmouth

Bitter spit’s its own, its own worst word
to benefit what’s left unheard as first
intended, meant to end itself, to break
the crack apart, enough to break away
from him, from his intent. He meant the worst
of words. His worst. His bitter spit, spit out
not worth his breath, a breath held back unheard
as though a silent scream, an endless shout
choked on itself, choked back, nothing to say
but venom swallowed hard on empty ache,
on empty ache one can not help but love.

He wants a taste of me? I hope he’ll love
the bite I’ll leave: the most annoying word
a tongue can’t wait to sling, a tooth’s dry ache
to slash through vows, a craving for the first
raw touch encountered, nothing good to say
to waste a thought on him. Cut me a break
already. Fuck, he makes me want to shout
my head to pieces. Do men not know the way
to please is not pretending what they heard
can wait until it’s turned into the worst
mouthful of shit not worth its throwing out?

I did so all the same. I kicked him out.
Said, “Get your tired ass out of here, my love.”
Said, “Want me now? You haven’t seen my worst!”
Said, “You’re no good, on that I give my word.”
Said, “I’m fine on my own. Had you not heard?”
Said, “No, a heart gone numb to you can’t ache.”
Said, “Go to hell.” I knew he’d know the way.
Said nothing more. I should have said that first
and then perhaps I’d not have had to shout
to make him hear the things I couldn’t say
until too late, until after the break.

The bastard, he won’t stop until I break
apart, not even now. He does it out
of spite. I asked for it, or so he’d say.
I don’t deserve the pleasure of his love.
I tried to once or twice. We’d only shout
each other down, love at its ugly worst,
me angry when he’d say some insult first,
him pissed at me for using his own word
against him, getting in each other’s way.
That how you know it’s working, so I’ve heard –
like exercise, you’ve got to make it ache.

Yeah right. There’s parts of him I’d like to ache,
except he’s shown no signs he’s those to break
or squeeze or kick or clip. From what I’ve heard,
he ought be trebled octaves crying out
his sad attempts to try to have his way
with me, control of me. From what they say,
that would explain his (need I speak the word
out loud?) in terms of art at making love.
In that respect, he wasn’t near my first
nor will he be my last. Within a shout
away are scores who’d take me at my worst,

among whom he’ll have always been my worst
and even that seems hardly worth an ache
one’d bitch about. There’s better stuff to shout
praise for than dignity so fragile it might break
on criticism. I admit, at first
I paid attention to his needs. I’d heard
I’d get it back in in trade, in terms of love
three times or more. My own. Come to find out
love’s not something exchanged. It’s just a word.
And if not, I don’t want it anyway.
(And on that note, that’s all I care to say.)

I never say the words I want to say.
And when I do, I always say my worst.
Or if I don’t, my worst get in the way
of what I meant, of all the thoughts I ache
to hear expressed. A word is just a word
until I try to squeeze it through some shout
that falls flat on its face as it comes out,
so never means much, silence I can break
as easily as breaking into love,
only to find another got there first
and stole the words my lover never heard.

What difference would it make if I’d been heard
as saying what I truly meant to say
instead of him just picking up the first
impression, then distorting that the worst
insane and twisted junk as far from love
as even I as waste might throw away?
Which words get left behind? Which words might break
out free of preconceptions? Which words ache
to see tomorrow morning inside out
my dreams intact, still real? Does any word
work just as well in silence as on shout?

My mouth’s gone bad. My whispers tend to shout.
My shouts get choked in tears that go unheard.
My silence fails me like some foreign word
in secret code. My mouth’s gone bad. They say
it always was. That he just brought it out,
the poison I’d thrown up right from the first.
My tongue has always had this ugly ache
to gnaw my best until it’s my worst worst?
My teeth have only been designed to break?
Words lost all meaning once I lost my love
and love loss, if I’ve always felt this way.

No word was meant to curse its air the way
mine rips my throat apart to scrape this shout
against my will: damned be the one I love!
Yet long before that shriek gets itself heard,
I’ve no word—even this—that I’ll not break
in sacrifice. Let every broken word
do little more than silence at its worst,
and silence do the worst its word can say.
Don’t pray for me. My thighs can’t help but ache
to carry me through morning, all played out
and wanting only more. Who’ll be my next first?

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