The Lesser Water Boatman

Jennie Malboeuf


Upside-down he swims, showing
all of creation the wonder of body.

He turns his figure into a little boat—
back legs like oars fighting the still water.

He proves himself more and not less—
penis whipping an earworm against his belly.

A true instrument. A harp, the throat,
rhythm sticks. He is both the gondola

and the lovesong. The scull itself
and the gondolier. Priapus

was the patron saint of sailors,
perhaps due to their years away

from shore. The seamen (lonely
and young), the entire world around

them wet, carried wood in their pockets,
carved with the pained face of a lustful god.