Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2014  Vol. 13  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts

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Sherman tried to show the extent of his manhood
by insisting his wife wear the pants in the family.
This allowed his manhood to extend
well below his knees, wrinkled as the head of a vulture,
and then coil damply beneath him
as he settled onto the porch steps to read the paper.

We’d be more inclined to apologize for that image
were it not for the fact the buzzard head
was at one time attached to the body of a snake
replete with a simile evoking crinkled hosiery
and thus this is the mild version and contains
significantly fewer genital-animal parallels
which editors do not typically recommend
for inclusion in general-interest publications.

Why there was only one sturdy pair of pants
between the two of them remains a mystery.

And that those pants were stitched of leather
with supple creases worked into their knees
and embroidered detailing on the pockets
is perhaps as close as we will get to the reason
for their existence in the first place. At this point
it would probably be wiser to return to Sherman
reading on the porch, nude from the waist down.

Yet nude would be an overstatement
given the pair of tire-tread sandals he is wearing
which of course have the effect of making him
even nuder—which is not a word—but which
we nonetheless include for purposes of double entendre,
just as we conjured sandals to amplify his nudity.

And look, there is his unnamed wife doing some
gritty task, mussing the knees of those disturbing pants
as she vigorously trowels the root-base of her rosebush.
I’m sweating like a pig in these trousers, she mutters,
not to him exactly, though there is no one else there.

He is so long in responding it seems the moment
might pass when the newspaper rustles and he says,
Fine . . . give them here . . . I’ll wear the damn things,
sighing like a beleaguered king who must wear pants
he does not like, rank with the sweat of his wife,
shoveling his soft flesh into that leather that pinches
like church shoes on a child’s feet in August.  end  

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