english language

The Unsound Alphabet

The question ‘Can you spell that for me, please?’
when I am on the phone and ill at ease
is enough to fill my heart with dread
because the words that pop into my head

come randomly, unplanned, frenetic:
my examples panicked, unphonetic.
I should take time to think. Just wait a while.
But no, ‘A,’ I will blurt, ‘as in … “aisle”.’

“Bdellium” I declare to illustrate B
(bravo for knowing that’s gum from a tree).
No Charlie for me, rather “Czar” I will cry.
My D is “Djibouti”. My E is an “eye”.

At least with F, I cannot go wrong
although “floccinaucinihilipilification” is probably too long.
It’s like aural GBH. “Gnat” and “honour” don’t work.
My choice for I must be starting to “irk”.

For reasons unclear, my J is a “Juan”.
Of all the Ks I could choose, “knee” is the one.
For L, a place-name! But not Lima, oh no:
“Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.”

‘That’s right, M,’ I blather, ‘as in “mnemonic”.’
People generally “ngwee”, my N is moronic.
“Ouija” I offer. No Oscar for me.
For P, “pterodactyl”, for Q I use “quay”.

Which is the right “right” to write? It’s a farce!
They must think I’m talking out of my Rs.
I declare ‘S as in “sea”.’ I can’t take it back,
like T for “Tchaikovsky”, a tough nut to crack.

Then there’s “urn” and “volk”, I know it’s far-fetched.
My W attempt makes me feel such a “wretch”.
I talk of “Xylophones”, “Yttrium” and old “Zaragoza”.
All hopeless, unsound. I just shouldn’t bother.

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