Just Because

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I know there are things that you ain’t supposed to
do and will probably get you a good whipping
if you’re caught but you’ll do them anyway
just because and for no other reason than just because.

Like you ain’t supposed to play with matches
just because you can burn someone’s porch down
or shoot marbles with a slingshot at a dog
just because you ain’t
and you ain’t supposed to tie two cats’ tails together
and throw them over a clothesline
and you ain’t supposed to fart in church
and you ain’t supposed to rob the poor box
ain’t supposed to stick anyone in the eye with an umbrella
and you ain’t supposed to make pipe bombs
’cause you might get your fingers blown off
and you ain’t supposed to stick bubblegum in anyone’s hair
or put crazy glue on toilet seats
and you ain’t supposed to tell lies
but if you do have to tell a lie
do it bold face and make sure it’s a damn good one
and if you get caught red-​handed tell another one
and make sure your head is hung down
and mumble like you’re really sorry even when you ain’t
and you ain’t supposed to swear unless you like eating soap
and you ain’t supposed to hit your mother because
when you die your hand
will come out of the grave and a dog will pee on it
and you ain’t supposed to tell your sister to swallow
a whole fizzy like it’s a Communion wafer
because if she does her belly will swell up like she’s going to have
a baby and rumble like Mt. Vesuvius and purple stuff will come
out of her nose
because she’ll run crying blaming you for sure
and even if you hide in a tree your mom
will find you and you’ll catch the switch
but it is something else to watch your mom climb a tree
with a stick in her mouth when she’s mad
and you ain’t supposed to go swimming butt ass in the river
and you ain’t supposed to throw anyone’s tennies in the toilet
and you ain’t supposed to play hook from school
and go downtown to shoplift
and you ain’t supposed to steal cars
or catch rats and put them in anyone’s locker
and you ain’t supposed to sass or mimic
or put your palm up on a bus
and have a pretty girl sit on your hand because
she will sure enough get mad and think you goosed her
and she’ll kick you in the shin
and tattle and nothing good will come out of it when
someone tattles on you for goosing
and you ain’t supposed to trick people out of things
like their bag of potato chips or their apple
because you’ll have to pretend that you like them
even when you don’t
and they will for sure want to hang around with you all day
and you’ll have to douse them with skunk perfume
and sure as gosh-​awful will be found out
because of a little crybaby telling
and you ain’t ever supposed to find fun in kicking a pigeon
if you’re caught you’ll get the blame for stuff you didn’t do
even if you blame your brother.
Anyway, I know boys
that never part their hair
or wash their hands
that lie and swear
and smell like the alley
and do fun things like this and that
but they weren’t really bad boys
maybe just a little mischievous
but they weren’t bad
and to tell the truth I think some of these things
defined a boy as a man
and sure as all sin follows forgiveness
you ain’t ever to look at a girl’s behind when in church
because you could go blind and
because some things you just ain’t supposed to do because
but you do them anyway just because
and there’s no other explanation, other than just because
and there’s a good possibility you could grow up
and become the President.

–previously published in “Dog is a Love from Hell”
(Lascaux Editions, 2017)

Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.

Jimmy Cvetic

Jimmy Cvetic worked as an Allegheny County police officer in Pittsburgh for over 30 years. He is the founder of the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League. For the past 35 years, he has hosted the Summer Poetry Series at Hemingway’s Cafe in Oakland. During the past four decades, he has written over 3000 poems, as well as children’s books and plays, while managing a number of boxing gyms throughout Pittsburgh for the WPAL. He is the recipient of many awards, including a Jefferson Award as Citizen of the Year, the Kids Need Heroes Award, as well as recognition from the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. A Vietnam veteran, Cvetic is also founder of the Three Rivers Peace Project.

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