Elinor Nauen: Two Poems

Cursing in Norwegian
…………………………..for Marie-Therese & my fellow Norwegian learners

I didn’t think you could swear på norsk.
Those liberal, uptight nordmenn,
what do they have to cuss about?

Honestly, El?
Don’t be a drittsekk.

Well, OK, but
it doesn’t sound like bad language. I mean, I can believe
en hjem is a home & melk is milk
but knulle? møkkakjerring?
lakensamba? (that’s just cute:
“sheet dancing”)

Let’s invent the Mother Rule, morsreglen:
Can I say it to your mom?

Wait, what? I can’t make up a Norwegian word?
Hvorfor ikke? Why not? Why not?
If I can’t swear, I can’t talk.
You flipflop flattop!


Poem Beginning with a Line of Robert Lowell’s

Somewhere a white wall faces a white wall,
implacable, back to back
a white wall faces a brown wall
each splashes the other’s reflection.
Who can advance
under a desert sun pitiless as a man
cold as ICE the walls shall not be moved.
Where we once thought we were refined
we now see spider eggs in deep cuts, vanishing
into an arroyo of malice
where white faces brown 


Elinor Nauen was born & raised in South Dakota and currently lives in New York City. Her books include CARS & Other Poems, American Guys, So Late into the Night, Now That I Know Where I’m Going, My Marriage A to Z, and, as editor, Ladies, Start Your Engines: Women writers on cars & the road and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women writers on baseball. She has been published in many magazines & anthologies. 

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