The F Word


A gang of boys on the council estate
I grew up on used to call me poof
and queer but never faggot, their tongues
retracting like fishing lines everytime

they attempted to say it. I used to plan
my weekends to avoid being sworn at,
watching them hanging outside a neighbouring
block of flats late at night, smoking pot

and pretending to mount one another.
Years later, I saw the youngest
in the supermarket. He was writhing,
desperate to shake off the hook lodged
in his tongue.

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