‘Untitled’ Prose-Poem

by jdavidcharles

Not sure if this is a poem, a memoir, or part of some sort of poetic-novella. Time will tell. At the very least it is an attempt to process sexuality from a clear standpoint by looking back and taking up distant but psychically significant events. Hope it achieves something.


Every time I say the word fuck I am reminded of being two years old trying on my brothers’ hand-me-down shoes that never did quite fit: for weeks I’d trip and fall, although I knew how to walk perfectly well even swim and without floaties or dad’s help—I once even swam through the deep-end despite his countless and excessive warnings against it.

When my sister-in-law called my brother dipshit at the thanksgiving dinner table I watched my mother flinch, reel and flinch. That was childhood for me. Ass, cunt, cock, balls, shit, all of it the greatest and most unforgivable sin right behind, as I discovered years later, smoke on my breath, cigarettes. She wouldn’t let us say butt even, and once, and this is God’s honest truth, she blushed when saying fanny. Secrets of the body that need not be heard or spoken, adult things, grown-up words, curse words—so for the whole of my adolescent life parts of me were without names, unspoken things, hidden recesses or protrusions of language, spontaneous junior high erections at the end of Sunday school, just waiting for your father to come pick you up—who would certainly never be caught dead with the word erection on his lips let alone a son whose horniness cannot contain itself even when faced by the prophet Daniel knee-bent praying for the hand of God in his den of flannel-graph lions.

I worked up the courage by the age of twelve, although, of course I already knew by now the workings of the sexual organism, its functions, disjecta, it still felt, even at that age, a necessary rite of passage to ask, Father, where do babies come from? And it began as it should with “when a man loves a woman,” etc, etc. Oddly enough it wasn’t until I was much older, watching a 1970s film, I got a clear and perfect image of a naked woman—certainly I had seen pictures and statues but for the first time I saw the female sexuality I was not supposed to say, never to invoke, the act of it half-rape, half raw pleasure, and also for the first time the obscurity and fuzzily drawn shape of the word fuck came into brilliant focus and years of unintelligible half-heard conversations and graffiti markings and shushed exclamations and things whispered into upturned ears came back into mind.

And somewhere, far away in the farthest back part of my memory, behind those conversations and whisperings and even behind how my brother made me feel when he tore up the love poem or the look on my first love’s face when I left and said “have a good night anyway,” an inkling of a dream of Grace Kelly, unbuttoning her tightly-wound dress, slowly inching closer, asking in the faintest of tones, “Darling, would you like a leg or a breast?”