by Bill Greenwell

Most is cousin to moist: one good word
deserves another. The consonants give
as teeth and tongue press them, half-stirred,
together—like treading on sphagnum moss,
       although both are heard:
language like this is never at a loss.
The ear must sift them both, like a sieve.

Trust and tryst are bedfellows, too,
unlikely ones, perhaps, although each one sighs
as a mattress might, under the weight of you
and me subsiding—sinking into the sheet,
       each one wondering who
is whom. The grammar is often indiscreet.
But the mouth pan-handles them, like white lies.

Hoist and heist are partners, probably in crime,
sounds like theft to me, from a well:
shifting vowels in the back of a van, if I’m
any judge. They’re like shaft and shift,
       don’t wish to do time:
pronounce them, and feel the jaw-bone drift
in a different way, like the tales they might tell.

As for mask, and musk, they’re merely one-nighters,
covering up for each other, unrelated by blood.
They squirm in company, like good-time blighters
on a bender. They spark and they speak
      while getting tight as
whalebone ribs. Their diction is very weak.
Yet they sense your pressure, like new-dried mud.