James Scruton



Here, people curse in acronyms,

abbreviate so their god

won’t misunderstand. They prefer

the surgical strike of “F-bomb”

to the fucking war of their emotions

on the ground, lay “g.d.”

crisp as a doily over the goddamn truth.


They’ll mutter “Hades” because

they still believe in Hell,

train themselves to invoke

the Buddha, Allah, Krishna

when stubbing a toe or stuck in traffic,

words they know will never hurt

like Jehovah’s sticks and stones.


I wonder, though, if behind some barn

or woodshed of the mind

they’re not hollering about

the strangeness of this world

or their doubts about the next—

“Jesus Fucking Christ!”

“Goddamn it all to Hell!”—

testing the water of invective,

tasting it like wine.


James Scruton has published four collections of poetry and received various awards , including the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry as well as chapbook prizes from Finishing Line Press and Grayson Books. He has work in recent or forthcoming issues of Poetry East, Poet Lore, and Common Ground Review.

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