Poetry

When I Met Sharon Olds She Told Me to Write A Poem About LBJ’s Penis

Sasha Debevec-McKenney

Everyone in my family knew
how horny I was long before I did.
At my grandmother’s funeral
I remembered fondly the time
she caught me looking at porn
over her dial-up. I humped
her basement floor watching BET Uncut.
Music videos had the most sex. Women
bent over and covered in cash,
conquered. At home my mother slept
on the couch, so I sat upstairs
on the corner of her bed, flipping
through channels, looking for sex.
I was desperate to see a penis.
I skipped school and found sex
during the day on Jerry Springer.
I didn’t want to write the poem.
What’s so poetic
about a sad man pulling proof
out of his pants, windmilling
his dick backwards into his own grave?
What color could you even
compare him to? I remember
my elementary school gym teacher
laughing at his own punchline,
some joke about touching yourself.
I knew the joke was about sex
so I kept my questions to myself.
Wouldn’t it be impossible to not
touch yourself? I think I might be
touching myself right now?
I assumed everyone knew
that whenever LBJ felt stupid
or upstaged or small, he took
his penis out. He slammed it
on the table. My life changed
when I found out what I could do
with my mouth. I licked
it all up, thirsty as any lifelong learner,
any other lover of the last drop,
swallowing everything but
what I had to say. I bragged
with the bombs I was given.
I dropped them exactly when
I wanted. Rules were only odes to order,
suggestions with a playful grip on the throat.
My pussy ruined a marriage,
led them back to each other
and blessed them with a son.
My body count is growing. Gather
the video girls. Tell them to twerk to this:
LBJ is in hell with all the other Presidents!
On a burning hilltop, in a graveyard
full of flaccid legacies, they wave
their penises like white flags.

Sasha Debevec-McKenney is the 2018 Rona Jaffe Fellow in Creative Writing at New York University, where she is currently pursuing her MFA.
Originally published:
January 1, 2020

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