Rodan's hands
A Little In Love A Lot

Poems from Naming Names


I can still see the pharmacist’s face
as he sized me up at the register
and fished the Trojans out from under
all that camouflage of candy
piled on top like a piebald football team
in Troy, then counseled me with a wink, “Don’t
mix these up with those.” I was fifteen, a freshman
on an errand. Faith was much older, a senior
expert on the hydraulics of the penis
of her ex-boyfriend, Mark Winkles, whom
she forsook for my more literary point of view.
But I only ended up disproving
every borrowed theory of hydraulics
that between the two of us
I couldn’t come up with
that terrified, truant, spring afternoon
we were scheduled to do it. “Fucking,”
Faith had warned me three months earlier,
speaking from her vast singular experience,
“is very intense. We’re going to have to
prepare you for this.” But our preparations
amounted to her talking about it all the time
which only served to undermine
my confidence. Under the leadership of Epeios
the Greeks built their wooden horse
in three days, which allowed them finally to enter Troy.
For three whole months Faith built up “fucking”
to the point where I was totally
psyched out. When the time finally came,
I couldn’t get it up. I couldn’t get the Trojan on.
And I couldn’t get inside Faith, who finally, quietly
gave up, and went back to Mark Winkles,
leaving me in ruins, scarred for life.
But what I want to know is,
is this a classic story
or an atypical one?

All These Things

"We have a buttload of catching up to do,"
says my friend from the second grade
in the first

email that comes out of the cyber
blue. It's a large amount, possibly
a variant of boatload. I don't

recognize his name at first. And it's 108
imperial gallons, from the Middle-English
butt: a large

container or cask used for storing
liquids, especially wine. "We sure
do," I write back and click

SEND. He writes about his life, wife, kids, kids'
colleges. And it's more than a person can hold
in two hands, possibly

from the large size of some women's behinds.
I'm clean and sober one day at a time, twice

horny, peevish, bookish, parsimonious
with words, and disinclined to give him
mine. My replies

grow smaller and more distant in inverse
proportion to his long and sunny ones,
like a retrograde moon

of Pluto. Then die out altogether. And it's
a surprisingly large amount of contraband
that a customs agent might find

hidden in someone's rectum. It's all
these things. And the bus driver's name
was Karl. The school nurse

was Mrs. Knapp.

My Visit to the Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner had a lot of shit,
a lot of very old and beautiful shit
from all over the world, going all the way back
to the Egyptian sarcophagi, which look a lot like bathtubs
though really they’re coffins. A whole lot of dead
shit in this museum, is what I’m thinking,
not sharing that thought with the lovely
woman who brought me here on our second date. To share
the world with the world, Isabella Stewart Gardner
built her eponymous museum in the Boston Fenway
in 1898. A hundred and ten years later,
me and Celia are walking through its galleries, not touching
because it’s only our second date. And I think it’s obscene
the way she accumulated all this shit and shipped it
back to Boston. And I think it’s exactly what’s wrong
with America, the way we keep appropriating
shit that doesn’t belong to us, buying it up and
calling it ours. But I don’t tell Celia that because I want
to hold her hand now, which is presently pointing up
at an enormous gilt frame with no painting in it,
her sweet inquiring voice asking the well-ironed
museum guard standing next to it at attention: What
is this? And he tells us this is the Rembrandt
that was stolen a few years back, with the Vermeers
and other masterpieces cut right out
of their frames, the way poachers cut the valuable
part of the animal right out of the animal,
leaving the bloody carcass behind for the world
to stare at aghast and brokenhearted. And I think
this is by far the most interesting thing in the museum,
though I don’t tell Celia that, her hand in mine now
as we listen together to the museum guard’s harrowing tale
of the enemies of art breaking into Isabella’s
rooms, and ripping the Dutch masters right out. Like a
rape, she gasps, squeezing my hand tighter. That’s when I
reach for her other hand, which she gives to me now,
so now we’re standing face to face, just inches
away from each other’s flesh-colored
flesh, which is making the museum guard very
uncomfortable. And he looks away. And I steal a kiss
from Celia. And then I cop a feel of Rubens.