Alarie Tenille

OFFICERS AND GENTLEMEN, MOSTLY

Five young navy officers at ease ­–
already shared a round of drinks or two
toasting wives who joined them overseas.
With every tray of drinks their volume grew.

Already downed a round of drinks or two,
they flirted with the pretty wives they’d missed.
With every tray of drinks their volume grew,
and every laugh from Jane made Larry pissed.  

Most chatted, cuddling with the wives they’d missed.
Jane meekly praised a recent book she’d read,
but every word she said made Larry pissed.
“I didn’t know that you could read,” he said.

Jane wished she hadn’t praised the book she’d read.
The other men yanked Larry to his feet.
“I didn’t know that you could read,” he’d said –
vile words his outraged friends would make him eat.

The other men yanked Larry to his feet.
How dare he bring dishonor to them all?
He’d regret the words he’d have to eat
by verdict of his jury in the hall.

Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Now retired, she enjoys more time with her husband, assorted cats, and poetry. She serves on the Emeritus Board and Programming Committee of The Writers Place in Kansas City, MO. In January 2022, her new book, Three A.M. at the Museum, was selected as Director’s Pick at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Now her book gets to spend the night at the museum. Yes, Alarie’s a bit jealous. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.