The Abuses of Comparative Linguistics

Not long ago I learned—to my surprise—
That “cherish,” “whore,” “caress” and “charity”
Are cognate words whose ancient root gave rise,
As well, to “kama.”  Blest with clarity,

I theorized that concepts I had long
Connected in my mind (although I never
Admitted this to anyone) were strong
Devices for persuasion.  Feeling clever,

I told a girl of whom I was quite fond
That hot caresses are the thing to cherish
When lights grow dimmer, hoping she’d respond.
She did, but charity was absent.  “Perish

The thought!” she yelled, then showed me to the door.
And as I stumbled down the stoop she said,
“Nice try, old boy, but I am not your whore.”
I winced, invectives ringing through my head.

Our language has a subtext, and the crux
Is where subliminal communication
Determines whom a cunning linguist fucks
Or doesn’t.  So it goes with conjugation.


C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Over the past eight years, hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and India. He is inordinately fond of single malt Scotch whisky.