Mendicant

Noun

A beggar.

“The mendicant needed shoes, 500 miles from Biloxi.”

Also used as an adjective: “High Street gets a lot of mendicant vagabonds in the summer.”

Note: Mendicant is often used to connote a sense of wandering and comes most directly from the Latin word for beggar. However, in the 14th century the word picked-up an association with religious groups that depended on alms, so that mendicant is acceptably applied to religious or spiritual devotees.

“The Bibles were common among mendicant Franciscans of the time who took vows of poverty and renounced all worldly possessions.” –from APNews.com

Febrile

Adjective

Having the symptoms of fever.

“He was wracked with febrile sweats most of the week.”

But fever, central to the definition of febrile, can also mean agitated and excited (Saturday Night Fever ain’t about the flu). This secondary definition of fever has informed our usage of febrile, making it acceptable to say:

“His frustration became a febrile anger.”

“The febrile crowd became a mob when they heard Ozzy wouldn’t be appearing.”

Demure

Adjective

Quiet and polite because you are shy. Also applies to clothing.

“I was more demure than a bonnet on Sunday morning.”

Note: usually applied to women, as in, 1950s females who’ve yet to sink their apathy in vodka. As in, “She was demure around the office, staying at her desk and smiling nicely whenever one of the men walked by.”

Though, it isn’t only applied to females:

“Trump’s demure wool attire with a cinched waist came from the age-old Parisian fashion house Christian Dior and riffed on its signature Bar Jacket.” —from APNews.com

Male or female, just don’t confuse demure with demur.

Formless Mister

It is Tuesday and I am chasing sticks-and-bones down the winter street. Not chasing, following. I don’t think he can run. He has no meat on his bones, only femurs and ribs and a spine etcetera, and the sticks in a silhouette, an outline of the man he is, something you can see through. No one else can see through him. He keeps a jovial expression and catch-phrases in his pockets though I know he doesn’t wear pants. He has no hip flesh to keep up pants. And everyone he meets is immediately impressed, such a young man with such promise. Glowing praises. You should see how well he sits at a desk, 8 or 9 or 10 hours at a time, completing assignments and making meetings feel like conversations between friends. I have to hand it to him, sticks-and-bones he’s a wonderful fit. He is going to pick-up my son. Sticks-and-bones taking a self-pleased stroll to the daycare center. There are little snow mounds still along the sidewalks, dirty white and wet, the pavement stained with salt. This neighborhood wears great overcoats, aerobic yoga pants and khakis. Sticks-and-bones eats at Whole Foods, gets his fitness from club-member packages. You should see his sinews, if he had any. You should see the tendons in his neck when he gets stressed, and the heated words in his chest – a passive insult she can’t quite get – when Mrs. Callahan fumbles his requests, at work. Sticks-and-bones can laugh at any joke. Sticks-and-bones knows how to impress the men who sign his paychecks. Sticks-and-bones masturbating amid the flatulence of bathroom stalls. Mallow for marrow. Dirt in the teeth of the sidestreets of yesteryear: smiles in the third-floor apartment’s kitchen smelling of spam, linoleum flooring, coughing cars, and the passion that once seeped with the tears. Gone for long, gone forever. Follow sticks-and-bones round the wrong corner. The wrong direction towards the lowhead dam near Third and Vine where once I drunkenly had sex. I hadn’t been drinking, just felt like I were overflowing. Drunk on substance, drunk on purpose, long filled with blood that kept flesh hard: Eager to succeed in self-definement – memories now just dust behind eyelids. Sticks-and-bones, dreams like semen wasting through my fingers, open my eyes to drive my SUV just a little bit farther, traffic stop-and-go. Sticks-and-bones. And now I hear the sound of clanking arms, ribs that clatter on the ground, the jaw that chatters all the while I fracture his form. The silhouette will disperse. The bones will grind. Families will flee at the sight of a madman arduously assaulting this stranger. Fools. This perpetrator of the madness, of the fleeting and the vain, cast this skeleton into the river, I tell you it’s for the best, heave the bones into the water and cast myself adrift, yet again, appearing and disappearing in the torrent of back-water just beneath the lowhead dam.