“I HAVE A PENIS! MAMA HAS A PENIS!”
a song in me of my daughter’s wayward penis,
twin to her brother’s stolid one. gone
on its hero’s wanderings, audacious penis!
it’s nautical, my daughter’s penis,
a craft of sail, propeller, or oar,
madcap ship of the frothy bath sea penis!
it’s chthonic, my daughter’s penis,
unseen mine car of the dank dydee ore,
in the brimstone stony shit caves deep penis!
twin to her brother’s staid one, her sly penis
sways like wry rye down by a briarpatch, brown
cackling rabbit penis. my penis,
my penis! she shouts, grinning at her denim,
the wee shorts’s waistband’s pink bow knotting
a nothing finger: remember your penis penis!
like a balding friar, I murmur vagina! vagina!
the v’s open scissor, the a’s snipped shut.
but her impossible hydra penis sprouts
anew two at a time! rockets to the front
like fighter jets, Chief Master Sergeant penis!
I have a penis! mama has a penis!
she hollers. how her penis colonizes
and occupies! conqueror, liberator penis!
I teeter at her swelling ranks
and slip upon the blood slick wake
panting vagina. . . vagina. . .
the word, red with cockamamie menace.
my tongue, red as a teacher’s pen is.
picaninnies been penny candies in the handbag
when it’s still a-draggin in fens.
a ’dilian’s grin a line of keen cones come picnicking:
“pics [hiccup]! can’t eat just one!”
gator hunger caters to being catered to;
who’s slaver slakes the croc’s chops?
who’s so nutty for nigger toes à la cuckoo for cocoa?
who could just eat whom up?
— Douglas Kearney
Reprinted from Patter (Red Hen Press) 2014, with thanks to the author. Hear Kearney read “Noah / Ham: Fathers of the Year” also from Patter, over at the Poetry Foundation no really, listen. You’ll see why we at Lemon Hound think Kearney is an essential and refreshing voice on the poetry horizon and why this is one of a handful of the most exciting texts to appear this spring.
Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s second, full-length collection of poetry, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. Kearney’s third collection, Patter (Red Hen Press) appeared early this spring. He has received fellowships at Cave Canem, Idyllwild, and others. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry, nocturnes, Pleiades, Callaloo, Fence, LA Review of Books, The Iowa Review,Â and The Ninth Letter. His produced operas include Sucktion, Mordake, and Crescent City. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts, where he received his MFA in Writing (04).
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