Papa Cussed for Fun

Papa hated liverwurst and ordered it just to cuss.
To plant his flag in the restaurant.
To watch the waiter tremble before Caesar one moment
and beg for a tale of conquest the next.
To add bitters to a saccharine postwar day.


Profanity converted Papa’s war stories to technicolor.
Shit minted wings. Damn made aces. Bullshit
and he became Patton in a newsreel—three stars,
two ivory revolvers, and a dozen bullets for Hitler.


Four-letter words whispered to the cat at breakfast.
Five-alarm swears at the Thanksgiving turkey.
Blasphemy showers like a ticker tape parade.
Papa hated liverwurst and ordered it just to cuss.

Image: US Marine Corps Grumman TBM-3 Avenger by Ronnie Bell licensed under CC 2.0.

John Dos Passos Coggin: This is a biographical poem memorializing my paternal grandfather, Rodney Marshall Coggin (1921-2009). To me and the rest of the grandchildren, Mr. Coggin was beloved “Papa.” In Virginia’s beautiful, rural Northern Neck, he was well-known as the editor, owner, and publisher of the weekly Northern Neck News. He owned the paper for forty-three years after buying it from his grandfather, W.Y. Morgan, in 1949.
Papa was a World War II veteran; he served as a dive bomber pilot for the 4th Marine Air Wing. He loved to tell war stories—often about aviation, often with profanity. This poem tries to give the reader of a snapshot of the rowdy, unforgettable story time with Papa.

John Dos Passos Coggin
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