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Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Art by Jin Suk
If I Am a Total Washout as a Lover (And I Am)

If I am a total washout as a lover (and I am),
I want to know: Where was my teacher?

If I have no skills, no sense of adventure, if I’m hemmed in by mere convention, I want to know: Where was my teacher?

Where was my teacher when, as a boy, I tried to flirt with those Mormon girls?  Where was he when one of those girls had white legs and boots black as India ink—?

My teacher, where was he? where? when I stayed up late with that Jehovah’s Witness?  —She said, “I’m so over Jehovah,” but you could tell that she wasn’t really.—

And what about that Jewish Orthodox?  And her dress with the tiny white dots?  That girl had phone sex with God!  She was friends-with-privileges with God!

Teacher, you were neglectful.  You didn’t guide my faltering steps.  You thought “the girl thing” would take care of itself.  You left me to my own devices . . .

And so I wound up married at twenty-two—to none other than Lopez the Cobra!  That Catholic icon with her gold crucifijo and her Paolo Friere politics!

Why is the world so sexy?  Where do religious babies come from?  Teacher, if ever I got any answers, I had to grow ’em all by myself.

And now I have a home-school PhD in Scheming and Self-Restraint.  Yesterday, I unrolled my prayer rug, and listened for a voice from the Unseen.  It said:—

Be not ashamed of the male gaze, Mardud_.  Defend it from these saintly persons who believe that no one should ever be allowed to look at anyone else._

Mardud_, your mouth is wont to gush lies; be not dismayed that no one believes you.  Yet, tell out all the truths it took you thirty years to learn._

And if you would speak the Ultimate Truth, I will tell it you, once and for all.  It’s that the trick is not so much to get rid of your vices, but to turn them to good account

Anthony Madrid lives in Chicago. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, FlashPoint, Forklift Ohio, LIT, Now Culture, PANK, Shampoo, AGNI Online, 6X6, and WEB CONJUNCTIONS. The title of his manuscript is THE GETTING RID OF THE THAT WHICH CANNOT BE DONE WITHOUT. (updated 7/2009)

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