! What The ****? ! - Poem by Michael Shepherd
All was quiet in the Garden of Eden
and not a fig-leaf stirred...
but after the Fall of Man
(usually forwards and enthusiastically, we note)
required some word for what happens
when evening falls, the curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
lovers begin to nuzzle, friends
remember a prior engagement, journalists
try to bribe the night porter, and
some novelists, blushing, draw the curtain, while others
brighten and begin to enjoy their work; and filmmakers
need to decide between a darkling screen,
a symbolic firework display, or
Egyptian hieroglyphics afford little clue (there's
a chance missed) : but jump-cutting now to Anglo-Saxon usage,
Chaucer, Father of the English Language so we're told,
used 'swyve', in a masculine sort of way:
'he swyved her bolt upright' leaves little to the imagination.
Then courtly French may have given us 'make love' -
an oxymoron if ever there was one -
being still, however the romantic hope of many, and the dread of
Casanovas the world around, as they have it off (sic) .
Shakespeare, being a poet, immortalised it as
'making the beast with two backs' - graphic, but
it didn't catch on with the tabloids, who prefer
only four-letter words which fit the headlines better.
The Italian Renaissance, noticing in its Mediterranean way
the resemblance of the male danglies to a fig fruit
(backtrack to Eden here for speculations)
may well have given us (the Florentine g being pronounced gutturally)
that English word with added onomatopoeia
though let's not go into that,
which now that blasphemy's out, is all too common,
rendering a much-enjoyed activity all too often as a term of abuse
which I leave to psychologists to work out. I refer to
Then as this term, which it doesn't take a lip-reader
to note frequently on the lips (and spare-time pursuits) of footballers,
became a sort of holy word of abuse,
and lawyers lurked around the gossip columns,
words mingling the comic, the non-accusatory
and the slightly admiring, were sought:
and so the tennis world gave us Bonking Becker...
while sportsmen like, naturally enough, to 'score'...
A psycho-sociological study might here extend,
priapically, to distinguish between male terms such as
'Cor, I'd like to give 'er one...' which makes the assumption
that females are eternally grateful for such male generosity,
and any distinguishing solely female terms
though I'm told girls' nights out are descriptive in their appreciation.
But for girls pulling boys, either the terms are non-gender-specific,
or in short supply, or have passed me by. Personally,
I like the biblical 'and she took him in unto her'
which has a certain feminine sense of choice about it
but too long for the tabloid headlines.
You'll note I've avoided that crude expression of a consumer society,
'have sex' - it has nothing to commend it, and indeed
is ungrammatical, and fundamentally, f***king animalistic
though of course.
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