Duck Soap

Two men one table over are talking about a dog. She’s a dog who hasn’t returned the beady-eyed one’s texts, the kind of hound who’ll hump a table if you had to hear him tell it and she’s just as mangy and mean as the most menacing mongrel…but without the loyalty.

All that aside the “bitch” can yell.

I know this because she calls him halfway through a T-bone steak and he excuses himself with a ‘Lemme just talk to this bitch” after pressing the answer button  so she can hear and be heard yelling something indecipherable.

I’m sure they’ll live happily ever after.

He has deep grooves of determination around the eyes and I imagine this trait extends to his relationships or at least to his need to get this bitch to return his texts. The call is curt. He cuts it off though it’s barely begun and with a hiss of “bitch!” that sprinkles spit on steak.

I’m eavesdropping and I can see Beady is starting to realize so I pretend to be tres busy sipping my tea and soon I’ve truly tuned out and into a train of thought that asks:

“What’s a woman got to do to be called a woman? Not a girl, not a chick, not a bitch or a thot. Just a woman?”

Though it’s the most neutral and beautiful term for a person who identifies as one, it’s a word I hardly ever hear a man use to describe a dame. If she’s hot, she’s a babe. If God took his time she’s a 10. If she’s not interested, she’s a bitch and if she’s in a skirt she’s a thot.

A million objectifying and insulting names but never the one that reminds men that we are two letters from men. Two breasts, one chromosome, one gender identification, same species. It’s a dazzling detraction. One that reminds me of driving to Kalk Bay in the front seat of a convertible next to a man who was marveling until he called me a dog.

Until he equated me to an animal, a pet and a peeve and found himself home alone with poem called “Duck Soap”. Penned promptly and pleasantly and put sweetly in his pocket by yours marthly  before we parted ways until this very day.

Him to a world in which women are dogs. Me to a world in which I listen to my mama.

watch your words my mama said

baking scones and pulling thread

for words grow fangs just like a fox

hard as stone and rough as rocks


letters strung with best intent

she said dusting with rosy scent

enter souls through apprehension

which bend and break their true intention


so mind your tongue, she cautioned twice

buttering bread and boiling rice

for every sentence even whispers 

can be the cause of spirit blisters


whats more she said of sticks and stones’

ability to break one’s bones

that words hurt more and aren’t as fleeting

as the bitterest and barest beating


this threw me into great unease

with words being my only tease

I thought perhaps one should choose silence

than run the risk of verbal violence


so mute I sat and mad I got

ideas and words quite left to rot

until one day I met a lad

whose tongue was just as brash and bad


the things he said

the names he called!

at least the man was never bored

and for a while he scratched an itch

until the day…


he called me “bitch”


in jest perhaps, though is it ever?

and even so, it wasn’t clever

for in that word his gold turned black

as mother’s words came rushing back


in every word there is their truth

so watch their words, my darling youth

for once a man has called you duck

you’re out of charm and out of luck


words once said are but the start

of string strung strong and from the heart

and there’s no halt

and  there’s no hope


for those whose mouths can do with soap.