Diphthong

.

To the untrained ear, it sounds like it’s a
specific cut of that category
of underwear that barely exists, a
mere scrap that covers the mandatory

tidbits in front and threads a narrow string
between the buttocks in a permanent wedgie.
In fact, the word diphthong means no such thing,
but for a phonetics term, it’s downright edgy:

It’s what you call it when your tongue changes
position in your mouth while it’s pronouncing
a syllable in which the arrangement
of two adjacent vowels creates a gliding

vowel sound. It’s not quite as sexy as a thong,
but there is a lot of tonguing in a diphthong.

 

 

 

 

 

Earwig

 

Earwigs are scary-looking buggers. They’ve
got pincers and bitey bits and hidden wings
all over the place. Usually, they behave
themselves, rarely flying or attacking

humans, and even if one does bite you,
it’s no big deal. On defense, though, they play
dirty, squirting jets of smelly yellow fluid
at predators while chasing them away

with their pincers. But what’s most frightening
about earwigs is their name, which derives
from Old English, an ominous pairing
of “ear” and “insect,” based on an old wives’

tale that says they burrow through your ear
into your brain and then lay their eggs there.

 

***

 

Holly Painter is an MFA graduate of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her poetry has been published in literary journals in the US, New Zealand and Australia. Holly lives with her partner in Singapore, where she writes love poems on behalf of besotted people around the world at adoptapoet.wordpress.com

 

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