Prostitution is now a major growth industry
in some exclusive parts of Long Island.
I found, as I traversed New York,
That people varied in their talk.
In Queens they had a word for girls
Who rented out their public curls.
This sort of dame was called a hoo-er
To make a perfect rhyme with sewer.
In Harlem she was called a ho
(With macron on the lengthened o)
And Brooklynites, both rich and poor,
Denominated her a hoor.
I heard the same thing in the Bronx
Drawn out with aspirated honks
While Staten Island had a mix
Of labels for commercial chicks:
Ho and Hoo-er, Hoor and Hoe-er…
Some said faster, some said slower.
The double-u I never found
Except on the Long Island Sound
Where ladies of the upper classes
Get the best price for their asses.
- Joseph S. Salemi has published poems, translations, and scholarly articles in over one hundred journals throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. His four collections of poetry are Formal Complaints and Nonsense Couplets, issued by Somers Rocks Press, Masquerade from Pivot Press, and The Lilacs on Good Friday from The New Formalist Press.
He has translated poems from a wide range of Greek and Roman authors, including Catullus, Martial, Juvenal, Horace, Propertius, Ausonius, Theognis, and Philodemus. In addition, he has published extensive translations, with scholarly commentary and annotations, from Renaissance texts such as the Faunus poems of Pietro Bembo, The Facetiae of Poggio Bracciolini, and the Latin verse of Castiglione. He is a recipient of a Herbert Musurillo Scholarship, a Lane Cooper Fellowship, an N.E.H. Fellowship, and the 1993 Classical and Modern Literature Award. He is also a four-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Prize.