There are seven words you can’t say on the radio. You know that don’t you? Seven words. If you say one bad word, and if someone calls in and complains, that’s a $300,000 fine. And we’re sunk.
That’s the message I hear whenever I do a radio show. An announcer always takes a little extra time with me. After all, I’m known for poems with the seven words in them. In fact I seem to have a love affair with those seven words, and vice versa. (Seven, did you know, is a sacred number?) I suppose poems with titles like “Fuck You” and ”Fuck You, Too” don’t help my reputation, and those two poems happen to be the easier ones to read aloud.
What is your problem, my parents used to ask.
The answer? Tell me what I am not supposed to do, say or write, and then it’s all I can do, say, or write about. Forgive me. I wish it weren’t so. (Am I the only one like this?)
But I do try. Yes, I do. I try to keep myself zipped up tight. So before I go on a radio show, for example, I am prepared. I only allow myself to bring along those poems that are spruced up for a Sunday Bible class. My Prell-cleaned poems, I call them. It’s true. They even wear little gold crosses around their necks, and they cross their legs and press them together so tightly, I get tired just squeezing them out.
But things happen nevertheless. What can I say? Someone always wants an orgasm poem. And how can I refuse them? Or someone has one of my books and points to a page, and says, read this. And I do.
That’s what happened in Santa Cruz.
I was asked by the announcer to read “Book Jacket,” and I had forgotten about its contents. A poem with a title like “Book Jacket” doesn’t sound like a poem that would contain one of the seven magic words. Does it?
Ah, but there it was. The word. Cock. A good cock too, a confessional cock, lingering on the bottom of the poem, slowly rising up towards me, one line at a time. I looked up and realized the radio announcer saw it, too. The two of us were starting to sweat. I kept reading, wondering, as the $300,000 cock came closer and closer to my lips.
At the last moment, it deleted itself. It was a close call. I’m telling you. I smiled, looked up, and sighed with relief.
But that night I dreamt I said it loud and clear. Cock, I screamed. I woke up my husband, screaming, FUCK, I said fucking cock!
And then the other six words came spilling out of my mouth, maybe thinking they, too, were worth $300,000 apiece. It was nice to say them aloud. I have to admit. Maybe everyone should try it once in a while.
I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have another radio show any time soon.