Here in lavatory dark you’re thrown
along with this small, ludicrous cup
back on your own uninspired devices.
Here after weeks of wheat germ,
bans on heat and brief-style underpants
you labor (minus candle, music, proper
props) like blind Milton for your muse:
Liz Taylor in Butterfield 8, Ava
Gardner, a waitress you still remember
from an all-night diner years ago
on some irretrievable interstate.
This handiwork demands you juggle light
switch, foot to prop shut a lockless
door, your clutched specimen
cup with questions of timing, rhythm,
and whether to sit or stand.
Through thin walls you hear nurses
at their station drinking coffee,
gossiping over blind dates
and the slow progress of tomatoes.
Each countdown’s marred by holds,
but you’re inching toward ignition
with a dancer on Solid Gold (that Amerasian
with the sable rope of hair)
when someone rattles the door
and again the mission’s scrubbed.
Though flintless from visions
of white-coat technicians bent
to their scopes, sifting sluggards
from swifts, normal ovals from freaks
with split tails, hydrocephalic heads,
still you try to kindle scenes
from letters to Penthouse magazine.
But each spark you stoke to life falters
at thoughts of what the pamphlets call
fertile man, their language lush
as delta bursting green: one meager
teaspoon for this paragon teems with more
than four hundred million perfect
spermatozoa. Like the piqued child,
you need someone, something
to blame: Your mother for urging
you conserve? A spendthrift purse
for its wild splurges on solo pleasure?
Wet dreams, foams, Trojans sneaked
from wallets and bedside tables?
But no…You collect yourself
and spell relief with Lana Turner,
and once again you stand tall,
zip, and buckle. Long ago you learned
a man’s credence derives from posture.
In the hall you’ll swagger slightly
for the nurses. On tile, a brash silver
tintinnabulation of sterling spurs.
Like John Wayne, your gun is legend.
Your carriage must say you know each dead end
street, each blind alley hides a stranger
truth than this your hand now tenders.