Impotence
It’s hard not to imagine
the penis as a little soldier
on a mission, with a message
it must deliver. What good is it
if it doesn’t get through the gates,
if it stops riding,
slips from the saddle and will do no more
than rest in a sunny place,
recline on a couch,
a king weary of ruling, a hero
tired of proving his mettle over and over?
You’re out of a job,
laid off,
laid up, small sergeant at arms.
What are we to do with you
now that you’ve given up your old commission?
Witnessing any disaster
it’s comforting
to believe a man is his own undoing.
The metal pierces the skull.
The gases escape the cooling towers.
And the atoms will riot at ground zero.
It’ll be their revelry
not ours. Their party only.
Impotent? Of course.
That’s what frightens a man.
You’d like to imagine
all you have to do is give the right orders —
for example: hands, march here;
penis, fire now —
and if you perform as your father did,
in bed, at work,
in the service of your country,
then you can’t help but earn your place here.
The penis lolls in your wife’s fingers
or along your own belly.
It draws back into the folds of its greatcoat.
Is it fretting
in the mirror, is it wondering
what’s happening? See.
Even now it’s rising — slightly.
Let it take its time.
Give it time.