Alan: Today, the “oddly private public place” would be somewhere on the internet, but in the 1970s it was physical photos in a physical landscape.
Just Between Me And You
Among bushes at the edge of town –
winking up from lank grass –
a scattering of Polaroids, flashers
in this oddly private public place –
someone’s dirty afternoon,
curtains drawn, before the mirror.
In each, the same hefty dick:
front view, side view, solo
or with supporting cast,
before, during, after, even limp
on a plate (Still Life: Banana with Plums);
blurred belly-skin, bunched hair.
I gather them up for my friend Ryokan
for a laugh.
Feeding them to his fire –
each penis blackening, curling
into acrid stench – he said,
“You know, don’t you:
these photos are of me.
These photos are of you.”
Nancy: How often I read in the newspaper, “but he’s so good with the children,” “our best volunteer,” “always there when we need him” – when, finally, somebody says.
Dirty, dirty old man.
Nobody ever said.
Nobody ever said don’t go flying
that kite down by Mr. Harold’s
house. Afterward, I never said.
Nobody said never
stop to pick lemon lilies
and then my arms full
of lilies, big man hands
under my summer shirt.
Broken. Broken, broken, all my
flowers in the grass, broken,
my heels, my elbows, scuffed
gritty trashy old grass and
in my hand, suddenly,
an axe handle.
My Mama put down the washcloth.
Don’t talk stitches to me,
my Mama said to Mr. Harold’s
wife. Just shut that screen door,
please, and think how lucky he is,
think how lucky he is
there wasn’t a head on that axe.
Nobody ever said otherwise.