by Travis Mossotti
“You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, then you throw it away.”
~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Seventh grade Health Class banana
sheathed in lamb skin, or wallet ridge
rubbed like a rabbit foot keychain.
O luck be a lady tonight! O luck be torn
open with teeth, unfurled like a sail
and lubricated by a favorable wind—
this wind of marriage that sails me back
to the memory of you…O island
of ecstasy! O sun in the sky like the
bright tip of budding chrysanthemums,
those presexual trembles and fumbles!
O reservoir tip! O skin arbiter! O,
O, O, O hallowed and mighty churner
of hormones and forgiver of impulses!
I sanctify you between all moments
before and all moments after: loosed
from the car window for the daytime
joggers to wince at, panties too, math-
matical remainder of last night’s simple
equation, cherub cheeks grown pale
with hangover, beached whale, a heaven
describable, furtive maples apologizing
for rubber trees as winter arouses spring.
The space between the phallus and
what’s signified. The insurance against
fleshes. Looped on a branch. Boxed
and wrapped and unwrapped in
the syncopated tenor sax and baseline.
You are not the glass slipper any more
than I’m the motherfucking prince.
You are not the savior of souls
who’s been pinpricked by the Jesus
affiliates, even if you are a loophole
in the narrative arc: early melt, river
downstream nobody saw flooding—
reader, have you been to New Orleans?
Have you felt the luxury of ribbed
pleasure? O first-world glory hole!
O, O, O, O of the moon shingling
an eclipse and the spasm of light
obscured! Backseat. Frontseat.
Homestead and hostel. Immune
to passion but subject to whim.
Doggiestyle, missionary, wheel-
barrow, cowgirl, reverse and all other
permutations—trumpet of skin
muted behind this thin scrim
of language, for his and her pleasure:
European pillowtop, beast with two,
three, four backs, possibilities as plural
as somewhere in the background a vinyl
keeps spinning out Buddy Rich’s big
band jazz: “The beat goes on, the beat
goes on/ Drums keep pounding a rhythm
to the brain/ La de da de de, la de da de da,”
and all those instruments keep coming
together into a tangled flesh of sound—
another prom, and I’m handing you out
by the fistful from a bowl of rubberized,
multi-colored punch—the theme this year
is Somewhere Over the Rainbow and later
tonight it’ll be I’ve Got A Rocket in My Pocket.
O Kingdom Condom, I’m pulling you up
by the roots like I’m a nostalgic ghost
who goes haunting the novelties
of truck stop vending machines: French
Tickler, Glow-in-the-Dark, Magnum XL.
I’m putting my quarters in one at a time
and turning. I’m pulling you out
of your restive and packaged slumber—
the only thing tonight that will come
between me and my remembered lovers.
Travis Mossotti serves as Poet-in-Residence at the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis and also as a 2015 – 2016 Regional Arts Commission Fellow. He was awarded the 2011 May Swenson Poetry Award by contest judge Garrison Keillor for his first collection of poems About the Dead (USU Press, 2011), and his second collection Field Study won the 2013 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize (Bona Fide Books, 2014).