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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 153 words
By Robbi Nester

Naughty Bits

Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” 
Yet he never saw an object he didn’t take 
for a male member—member of the club, 
impeccably tuxedoed gentleman standing 
erect at the front gate. We have so many names 
for genitalia, which seem to lead an independent 
life all their own. The fork, the cork, blind alley, 
cyclops. Bagpipe, whim-wham, gravy boat. 
Whether bum or tits, tushy, or wee-wee, knowing 
and nasty or euphemistic, they reveal how people 
feel about their bodies. Think of the many names 
we give a much-loved pet or child, even a deity. 
It’s love that fuels this, sometimes fear 
that multiplies the epithets. No one name 
can capture the power of the parts we’re naming, 
an awesome generative force, yet at the same time, 
vaguely ridiculous. Consider the vulva, that frilly pink 
party hat—part of us, yet, somehow, larger than ourselves. 


Publisher’s Note:

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” is widely attributed to Sigmund Freud, yet “the first citation in English is dated 1950...more than a decade after Freud’s death in 1939” as Garson O’Toole writes in a detailed article at his reference site, Quote Investigator (QI).

“...We lack any written record of Freud as the direct source” as QI quotes Alan C. Elms, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, from his 2001 article about three well-known sayings attributed to the renowned psychoanalyst: “Apocryphal Freud: Sigmund Freud’s Most Famous ‘Quotations’ and Their Actual Sources.”

Still, this cigar remark makes a great story, and inspires wonderful poems. Elms calls it “Freud’s ultimate anti-Freudian joke.”

Robbi Nester
Issue 11, January 2022

is the author of four books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has edited three anthologies; the latest is The Plague Papers, available online at Poemeleon Journal. Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Aeolian Harp VI, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily, Gargoyle, Live Encounters, Muddy River Review, North of Oxford, Rhino, Tampa Review, Tiferet, Verdad, and Verse-Virtual.

Author’s website: www.robbinester.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after a painting by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

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