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A poem called "Promiscuous"

It’s not often that you wake up to NPR and hear Garrison Keillor saying “slut” over and over again, but today was a lucky day! His AM installment of The Writer’s Almanac, a five minute collection of poetry and  literary history, concluded with the poem “Promiscuous” by William Matthews, from Search Party: Collected Poems, which is like Wheaties for feminist linguistic nerds who majored in English and keep deep-thought journals. Here’s the first half. Read the rest at Writer’s Almanac:

“Promiscuous,” by William Matthews

“Mixes easily,” dictionaries
used to say, a straight shot from the Latin.
Chemists applied the term to matter’s
amiability.

But the Random House Dictionary
(1980) gives as its prime meaning:
“characterized
by frequent and indiscriminate

changes of one’s sexual partners.” Sounds
like a long way
to say “slut,” that glob of blame we once threw
equally at men and women, all who slurred,

slavered, slobbered,
slumped, slept or lapsed, slunk or relapsed, slackened
(loose lips sink ships) or slubbed, or slovened, But soon
a slut was female. A much-bedded male

got called a ladies’ man; he never slept
with sluts. How sluts
got to be sluts is thus a mystery,

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