The Prude's Alphabet
by Don Marquis
A is for Tarsus. The current short skirts
Do not conceal it, which pleases the flirts.
B is the letter for Gentleman Cow --
Some persons throw them. I cannot see how.
C for a Cow's little child that drinks milk;
There's another kind, too, that is covered with silk.
D is for -- Dash! It is so like a curse
That nothing could make me employ it in verse!
E is for Embonpoint; -- much nicer word
Than some of the synonyms which I have heard.
F is for Falstaff, a naughty old man;
Avoid his example as much as you can.
G for a substance that's made into strings
For fiddles; 'tis taken from kitties and things.
H for a word that means...well, embrace.
The rhyme for it, "rug." It may lead to disgrace!
I is a painful dermal disease
That keeps people scratching. Don't mention it please!
J is for Jackal, a terrible beast
Whose dinner demeanor's not nice in the least.
K is the joint midway of the limb;
It moves when we walk, it moves when we swim.
L for the members producing the gait --
The iniquitous Octobus really has eight!
M is for Modest. Sincerely I trust
That you'll always be modest. Be Modest or . . . bust.
N for a kind of an orange; the kind
That is simple and sweet and has a thin rind.
O for obnoxious! It grieves me to find
So much that is so in my delicate mind.
P for a word that sounds very like dimple;
Cosmetics produce them on gentle or simple.
Q is for Questionable persons and things --
If people are married they ought to have rings.
R is for Roue'; for decency's sake
Avoid such grosser locutions as rake.
S is for Polecat, so pretty and cute;
Don't make him a pet, he's a treacherous brute.
T is for Tongue. O, pray, keep it clean,
And never say bluntly the things that you mean!
U for the garments worn next to the skin;
In winter they're thick and in summer they's thin.
V is for Vampire -- I don't mean the ladies
That movie films show sending persons to Hades.
W is for Weather, the safest of topics --
But even so, children, don't dwell in the tropics!
X, Y and Z are Equations Unknown,
So a prudent young person will let them alone.
LIFE Magazine, August 11, 1921