#NaPoWriMo – Day Fifteen – Sugar

In the car she scolds me for swearing,
for slipping out the word sugar
with the same spitting fury I’ve heard
spring from her mouth.

‘That is a bad word, you don’t use!’

It’s the first time I start to feel
an undercurrent to the sounds I speak,
their tidal rip of meaning
drawing out what you meant to say
when you’ve said something else.

She swears more the older I get,
until neither of us mark the words
fumbled out in frustration.
Profanity softens its edges
until it looses itself in language.

But elsewhere, when I am alone,
instead of fuck I say fudge,
sweeten the foul with icing
despite the screech in my speech.

Fudge is a bad word, I too often use.

Today’s official NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem about a memory of a small habit your parent had, then to move into you picking up the same habit. There are a few things I’ve picked up from both my parents, my inability to walk past a deli-counter without buying ‘a few tasty treats’ is something I share with my dad. I chose to go with my mother’s use of the word sugar as a swear word instead. Now my sister and I are both grown, she is less worried about swearing in front of us, but I remember quite vividly being told off for ‘swearing’ because I said the word sugar with the intention of using it as a bad word.


  1. And excellent NaPoWriMo entry! While I was unable to participate this year, I am delighted to see so many writers participating with such gusto. I also found your entry quite amusing – haven’t we all such similar stories, made unique by our choice of not-profanity? Thank you for the memories!


    1. Thank you for the lovely comment. Last year I only managed the one poem, but this year seems to be going well with the prompts. It’s such a fantastic resource for poets and a great event to encourage poets to get pen to paper even if it’s only the one poem.


      1. I swear, I lack the creative drive to write WITHOUT a prompt. It’s thanks to poets like you that I can form poetry through a sort of second-hand prompt, hahaha.


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