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Strip Scrabble

Honorable Mention 2014 Poetry Contest

To make it fair, we’ll need to wear
the same number or articles
of clothing and decide whether
socks count as one or two and if
rings and watches count at all.

Then we’ll need to agree on time,
say, to stop every five or ten minutes,
to see who’s ahead or behind in
running out of clothes.

But here's the big rule: we can use
only words that together we agree
are sensual or seductive to us both.

So words like lips and tongue might
always work, while words like zest and zygote,
though arguably on topic, might never,
and terms like fabric and tactile wouldn’t cut it,
while a word like, say, lingerie, though
French, would be fine, as I figure would
silk and touch and wine.

So let's say I get to go first: if I drew an S and
an E and an X, sex is the word I’d lay down or
draw some seven-letter wonder like hugging
or kissing or (oh, come on) undress to make
an even more erotic linguistic interlocking.

But before we begin, before I'm trapped in
a corner where even little words can score big,
before I’m driven scantily clad out of my mind,
before we come to our final turns, promise me,
before I lose my pants, that you, I mean plain
old y-o-u, in a pinch will count double for me
as a sexy word for you. 



Badger born and bred, Dion Kempthorne was a linebacker on the 1963 Wisconsin Rose Bowl team. He earned a PhD in English from UW-Madison, and then taught English in the UW Colleges and served as CEO/Dean at UW-Richland.

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