A Poem So You’ll Know All Of Scrabbles Two-Letter Words

Happy National Scrabble Day! David Bukszpan, author of Is That a Word?, wrote this poem to help us remember all 101 105 two-letter words that you can use in Scrabble.

The most important lesson for aspiring Scrabble nerds
is to memorize the whole list of two-letter words.
There’s one hundred and one, just like the Dalmatians,
but instead of pooches they’re pronouns, prepositions, exclamations.
And rather than skinning these pups, à la Cruella de Vil,
you’ll play with them daily—it’s your opponents you’ll kill.
Some of these words are obvious, others uncanny
But master them all and you just might beat Granny.
AA, pronounced “ah-aah,” is cindery lava,
the word’s from Hawaii but you may find some in Java.
An AB is a muscle found on magazine covers,
an AD in the mag says Virginia’s For Lovers.
AE thing is one thing, the word’s oldish and Scottish;
AG means agriculture, the word’s academic and oddish.
AH expresses surprise, like “Ah, look at those!”
an AI is a sloth who’s just got three toes.
AL is not just Pacino, it’s an East Indian tree,
and AM is not just talk-radio, it’s a form of “to be.”
AN is an indefinite article, I just said it twice,
and AR is the letter that starts the word “rice.”
When you use an example, you can use the word AS,
and AT tells you where, such as “At Alcatraz.”
We make the sound AW when we see kittens sneeze,
or when lumberjacks insensitively AX stately trees.
AY one might say, to say “I agree.”
BA is the Ancient Egyptian idea of the soul, basically.
To BE is to exist, to have actuality;
a BI is a guy or girl with bisexuality.
BO is a pal, like “Meet my bo, Jackson.”
“BY the way,” one might say, “he’s looking for action.”
DE, from the French, means “of” as in “from;”
DO, like the deer, is the first tone you hum.
ED is education, it’s just shorter this way,
And EF is for F, like “What the ef word did you just play?”
EH…it’s like…I don’t know…like an expression of doubt?
The EL train (think el tren elevado) is a pain to wait for when it’s raining out.
EM refers to the letter; the same goes for EN.
ER is…hesitation; use ES to start “sen.” (A former Japanese currency.)
ET is a past tense of to eat; the letter EX marks the spot.
FA is also sung as part of the scale. (Some folks think it’s “far” but it’s not.)
The Hebrew letter FE (“fay”) was long ago used by Moses.
As GO is a word referring to the game, so its plural gos is.
“HA!” blurted Adam, earlier in the Bible, when HE saw Eve evolve from his rib,
“HI,” she replied, then “HM,” because she couldn’t ad lib.
“HO!” Adam said, easy—it can be another sound of surprise—
and Adam’s ID fought his ego. (The superego decides.)
IF, IN, IS and IT we pretty well know
But how about for sweetheart the endearing term JO?
Then there’s a couple kay words that can keep back a conniption,
the first one is KA: the spiritual self—like ba, it’s ancient Egyptian.
The other is KI—pronounced “chee”—is a deep concept, son,
referring to the Chinese vital life force—way before Obi Wan.
LA, a note to follow sol
LI, about five hundred yards
That, LO—attention!—will bring us up to MA, a mom, a female mom,
ME, a name a I call myself…
But in the song of course MI also a note meant.
Use “MM” to assent; and a MO is a moment.
The Greek letter MU, MY friend, should NA (not) be unknown to us,
At least compared to El Greco’s real name—NE Dominikos Theotokópulos.
NO, the Greek letter NU should likewise not be a shock,
Unlike the word coined by the German Baron Dr. Carl von Reichenbach,
who came up with OD, a hypothetical life force,
which he derived from the god Odin—who of course was Norse.
From that same part of the world, not far from the Highlands,
we get the word OE, a whirlwind off OF the Faroe Islands.
“OH,” you cry, “OI, my brain is starting to swell!”
But relax, my friend, take heart, you’re doing so well,
try saying an OM to help counter confusion,
for ON we go to OP, abstract art based on illusion.
OR think also of OS, another word that might be new to us,
it could refer to a bone, or an orifice of the uterus.
You might exclaim, “OW!” if like an OX,
you stub your big toe, wearing just sox.
“OY,” you might cry, “come help me, PA!”
(Which reminds me to warn you not to try to play “da.”)
PE, like fe, is another Hebrew letter,
tho Greek and math people prefer their PI better.
QI, Scrabble’s most popular word, is just ki spelled with a kue,
and like qat (or your cat) it doesn’t need U.
Back to the Von Trapps, let’s not forget the tone RE,
and don’t SH them yet—they have more to say:
there’s also SI and SO from the scale diatonic,
and don’t say TA, or thanks, to them yet, for their lesson harmonic
because we likewise have to make time for TI,
TO which the music teacher Sarah Ann Glover changed the tone si.
UH, UM…oh yeah, there’s UN,
Juste comme the French, it simply means one.
There’s UP and US, and UT—an old name for the first (and last) tone, do,
and WE (the funnest pronoun) and WO, which is woe.
With the Greek letter, XI, we’re near the end of our song.
The Viet coin, XU, was a cent to their dong.
Congrats: YA got all the words that I wanted to teach YE
And—YO! —I almost forgot: there’s ZA, which is pizza!
So now you know your Scrabblish AA, BO, QIS,
next time won’t you sing with MI?

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary Fifth Edition has added some new two letter words since this poem was first published at The Daily Beast way back in 2003. I have created the following addition to modernize David’s poem.

Since time has passed, Scramble has changed its ways
and you will come to find out DA is a safe word to play.
GA is the white robe worn while performing martial arts.
TE sounds like TI, the seventh note if you’re smart.
PO is a chamber pot, a safe place to pee in.
And now that you know this, more Scrabble you should win.

We Who Are Your Closest Friends (A Poem For Valentines Day)

we who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting
as a group
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
frustration
discontent and
torture
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift

your analyst is
in on it
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us

in announcing our
association
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves
but since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make
unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your
disastrous personality

then for the good of the collective

Phillip Lopate, 1943

Tetrapharmakos: The Four-Part Cure

“The four-part cure,” is the Greek philosopher Epicurus’ remedy for leading the happiest possible life.

Don’t fear god,
Don’t worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure

The “tetrapharmakos” was originally a compound of four drugs (wax, tallow, pitch and resin); the word has been used metaphorically by Epicurus and his disciples to refer to the four remedies for healing the soul.

Coin

My friends over at the Copper Nickel (a literary journal published by the students and faculty at the University of Colorado Denver) have recently launched Coin. Coin is an off-shoot site where you will find samples of work that have been published in Copper Nickel. These samples are accompanied by interviews, conversations, book-reviews, and audio and video presentations and documents that don’t fit well into the format developed for Copper Nickel.

The first issue includes poems from Dan Albergotti, Sandy Florian, Ed Pavlic, and Ginny Hoyle, Snezana Zabic’s essay “Meet Satan,” and a portfolio of work by and about Michael Copperman, specifically interesting are his comments in “Race, Authenticity, Culpability” accompanying his unconventional “It“.

Fear Heirarchy

Below is Jan Pettit’s wonderful poem “Fear Hierarchy” printed in its entirety.

Fear Hierarchy

1. Fear of the dark
    Under the bed.
    Inside the closet.
    Between leap and landing (floor to bed).
    (Related) Long arm reaching out from under bed.
2. Fear of separation
    Lost in a crowd (accidental).
    Lost in a crowd (on purpose).
    Lost in the woods (either).
3. Fear of abandonment
    Parents dying.
    Parents divorcing.
    One parent moving.
    Parents remarrying.
4. Fear of wicked stepparent
5. Fear of pee accidents
    In school.
    In bed.
    In friend’s bed.
6. Fear of bras
    Needing one.
    Not needing one.
    Anyone looking closely enough to know.
7. Fear of menstrual period
    Getting it.
    Not getting it.
    Surprise attack.
8. Fear of embarrassment
    Wrong clothes.
    Wrong hair.
    Wrong glasses.
    Wrong body.
    Wrong mother.
9. Fear of Getting Pregnant
10. Fear of rejection
    By friends.
    By boyfriend.
    By colleges.
11. Fear of being found out
12. Fear of not getting work
    Not paying student loans.
    Not paying bills.
13. Fear of selling out
    Deserting dreams.
    Embracing capitalism.
14. Fear of the dark (continued)
    Parking lots at night.
    Deserted streets at night.
    Apartments at night.
    Houses at night.
    Bedrooms at night.
15. Fear of rejection (continued)
    By lovers.
    By bosses.
    By friends.
16. Fear of being unloved
17. Fear of being unlovable
18. Fear of having married the wrong person
19. Fear of not getting pregnant
20. Fear of mortality
    Parents’ mortality.
    Spouse’s mortality.
    Signs of mortality.
    Cancer.
21. Fear of childbirth
22. Fear of losing a child
    To crib death.
    To falling down stairs.
    To a head injury.
    To bathtub.
    To a bicycle accident.
    To a car accident.
    To a playground accident.
    To a freak accident.
    To pneumonia.
    To cancer.
    To a thousand kinds of cancer.
    To a pedophile.
    To a kidnapper.
    To a babysitter.
    To a stranger.
    To a tick bite.
    To a bad heart.
    To thin ice.
    To a swimming pool.
    To falling rocks.
    To drugs.
    To gun violence.
    To poor judgment.
    To sport.
    To a dare.
    To driving.
    To driving drunk.
    To heartbreak.
    To childbirth.

The Birth Of Saint Patrick

On the eighth day of March it was, some people say,
That Saint Pathrick at midnight he first saw the day;
While others declare ’twas the ninth he was born,
And ’twas all a mistake between midnight and morn;
For mistakes will occur in a hurry and shock,
And some blam’d the babby and some blam’d the clock
Till with all their cross-questions sure no one could know
If the child was too fast or the clock was too slow.
Now the first faction fight in owld Ireland, they say,
Was all on account of Saint Pathrick’s birthday;
Some fought for the eighth for the ninth more would die,
And who wouldn’t see right, sure they blacken’d his eye!
At last both the factions so positive grew,
That each kept a birthday, so Pat then had two,
Till Father Mulcahy, who showed them their sins,
Said, “No one could have two birthdays, but a twins.”
Says he, “Boys, don’t be fightin’ for eight or for nine,
Don’t be always dividin’ but sometimes combine;
Combine eight with nine, and seventeen is the mark,
So let that be his birthday.” “Amen,” says the clerk.
“If he wasn’t a twins, sure our hist’ry will show
That, at least, he’s worth any two saints that we know!”
Then they all got blind dhrunk which complated their bliss,
And we keep up the practice from that day to this.
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