Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FIGHTING WORD, by BERTON BRALEY



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THE FIGHTING WORD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I'm a calm and placid person and my temper seldom rises
Last Line: "while I bellowed out ""whoisthis?"" on the phone!"
Subject(s): Anger; Temperance; Prohibition


I'm a calm and placid person and my temper seldom rises
(You may take that with a modicum of salt).
I can bear my share of troubles and of worries and surprises
And it's truly very seldom I find fault.
But there's one thing gets my nanny and it gets her good and plenty
And my language grows cerulean in tone
When I telephone—this happens fully nineteen times in twenty—
And somebody snorts "WHOISTHIS?" on the phone!

Then I want to bust that party where a bust is greatly needed,
On the jaw bone, on the blinker, on the nose.
But my wild satanic anger isn't very greatly heeded
And it doubtless never will be, I suppose,
Yet I'd like to use a pistol or a cutlass or a cleaver
On the vast unnumbered masses who are prone
To wait until my coral ear is glued to the receiver,
Then bellow out "WHOISTHIS?" on the phone!

I'm a calm and placid person with a kindly disposition,
But I'm truly something ugly when I'm mad,
And I wish I owned the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition—
Every rack and grill and thumbscrew that they had.
I would seize these surly parties, and with eyes that fairly glisten
I would rack 'em with a fury never known.
And for years I'd sit and watch 'em and for years I'd make 'em listen
While I bellowed out "WHOISTHIS?" on the phone!





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