Walking Wounded

Spring came and we had to hide our boners
under our desks or against walls of lockers.

We'd see other boys walking with books slung low
and we'd know. Sometimes I'd have a hand in my pocket

pulling it down and to the side--it swelled and jacked itself up
altogether on its own, as a big dog climbs your sweater

trying to hump you, its own stupid boner, telescoped
like lipstick, brushing your thigh. Boners

as girls came up the stairs, glossy-lipped
in knit dresses, slim-hipped in tight jeans

as boys descended weirdly, like that wounded
fife player from the American Revolution.

In the bathroom poor Richie Kearns
was trying to get it down, talking to it--

Damn you! I thought I heard him mutter--
and flicking at it--not to punish, just deter,

as your dad whacks you in the neck
from across the dinner table.

At night was when we got the good ones
that came with thoughts of slipping ourselves

into Sarah, Margie, Barbara, Nancy, Elisa.
We said their names, repeating some, to see

who got us stiffest. Afterwards, we worried they
would leave us when we most needed them: in the presence

of a girl at night in the park or by the docks.
Would she be the kind who'd say Maybe, and Not yet,

until you whimpered and shrank back into yourself?
Or would she make you long and fat

and firm as cement, tell you it was good
and big, while she stroked and licked it?

by Douglas Goetsch

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