24 July 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 2

Sexual Illiteracy

The day that Magic Johnson retired, anchors inflated condoms on the evening news.

My erotic vernacular expanded with the rituals of their nightly broadcast.

The school counselor organized a semester of AIDS-awareness education.

New grants funded the after-school program, we ate cookies and watched old movies,

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men.

Hours of discussion quietly stripped the screws of masculinity. Were we born gay?

Afternoons of liberal humanism, Sunday mornings listening to scripture.

For weeks, the visiting priest raged about the love of Cain and the sins of Adam

while, on break at the drugstore, I read letters to the editors of pornographic magazines.

So many young and horny housewives, so many sodomized waitresses!

High, I climbed Jim Corder's roof and watched his older sister skinny-dip.

Pine needles trembled on the water and in the moonlight her hair was blue.

Not David watching Bathsheba, not Sal Mineo watching James and Natalie.

Climbing down, my hands scraped the heavy tiles but held onto nothing.

That summer, Stacy Corder borrowed five hundred dollars from her best friend.

Two weeks later, no one guessed the reason for her absence.

On the porch my father struggled for the appropriate tone:

"If you are ever in that situation—I pray nightly you won't be—you must use protection."

About the author:

John W. Evans' poems appear in print in Best New Poets 2006, 5AM, Poetry East, Nimrod, Alimentum, Harpur Palate, and Americans Do Their Business Abroad: An Anthology of Peace Corps Travel Writing, and online at Slurve, Stirring, and Front Porch.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 2, where "Sexual Illiteracy" ran on July 24, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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