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Politeness wears you like a collar

Updated: Aug 21, 2019



Politeness wears you like a collar


I lose my tongue

while my brain still scrabbles

its puppy paws against polished floorboards.


Speak! she says

I have only sounds and only a few.

They repeat themselves

while the meaning drains out.

Words twist in the air:

my frayed braid of rope.


Well-trained to crave praise

Teethed down. Declawed. Wit without bite.


In my paw-twitching daydreams

I chase all I’d say

if the cat returned my tongue.


My head is wide and full.

My eyes are dark and whole.

Given eloquence

maybe I’d still bark.

Maybe my thoughts are so precious

they can only reach your ears as as noise.


Have you never wondered why

I whine and growl at nothing

but bite my tongue at the sharp pain of a bruised foot?

©2019 Johanna Berliner