Dean Young

I was having sex with a stranger
when I realized this was no stranger,
this was Eleanor Roosevelt,
wife of the 32nd president of the United States.
Of course I was shocked
but it seemed rude to stop having sex
so I went on having sex.
Her hair was getting quite deranged
and she was concentrating hard
like a person trying to move a paperclip
by force of mind alone
which brought out the equine qualities
of her facial structure not in a bad way.
One reason to have sex is to help a stranger
get in contact with his or her animal-being
even if it’s a crayfish.
In the kitchen the rotisserie was laboring,
either the chicken was too fat
or it was just tuckering out. Oddly
I didn’t feel bad for Franklin Delano
even though he looked jaunty and vulnerable
in his wheelchair in the margin of the dictionary.
In general it’s difficult to feel bad
about anything while having sex
which is why it’s such a popular activity
and the church is against it
except in primarily utilitarian instances.
That pretty much covers the facts of my life.
I’ve never been in much of a car crash.
When I walk into the mirror of the high grass
under the tired suicide note of the setting sun,
I’m never gone long. Once I was stuck
on an elevator, all of us strangers
gasping at once but there the semblance
to having sex ended because it only took
35 seconds to get going again, each of us
off at a different floor: cardiology,
oncology, psychiatry, the burn unit,
the solarium.


Dean Young is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Fall Higher (2011) and Bender: New and Selected Poems (2012). He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and the University of Texas at Austin where he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry.