REH Word of the Week: flanks

noun

1. the fleshy part of the side between the ribs and the hip; side

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English, from Old French flanc, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German hlanca loin]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

They set me on high, a marble saint,
As if to guard the virtue of the park.
My flanks are gaunt, my gaze is cold and stark,
For I must look the part the liars paint,
Who’ve cleansed my history of fleshly taint.
The elders bid the younger people mark
How virtuous I gleam against the dark;
Could I but speak I’d make the bastards faint.

Great God, how could they know the lusty zest,
The love of life that made my sinews dance?
Below me now, against my base, inert,
A lousy tramp, a sleeping house-maid rest.
I yearn for that square flask in his old pants.
My fingers burn to feel beneath her skirt.

[from “A Great Man Speaks”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 593 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 143]