By John Foy
233 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10016
I’d like to go, but who would go with me?
Not everyone, of course, is up for this.
My wife has called it a redundancy
and said that I should go with David Katz,
my poet-friend, but David’s not inclined
to visit such a place, just him and me.
Would there be dioramas like the kind
at the American Museum of Natural History?
To go alone would be unthinkable.
How sad, to wander through the galleries
inspecting things that don’t seem do-able.
A group is probably best—a coterie
of seven poets not so free from sin.
I wonder if they’d even let us in.
Our poet-friend and sculptor, Meredith,
was happening up Fifth Avenue one day,
and there it was. She went inside forthwith
to see how certain things might be portrayed.
The gift shop—well, that’s where she ended up.
She saw The Little Book of Giant Breasts
and guides to New York City swinger clubs.
Who would buy these books? The other “guests”
were mostly in their 20s and in groups,
and Meredith was not that comfortable.
Which ones, she thought, had gone and shaved their pubes?
The shop was fun but not that memorable.
The net effect was nothing but ennui
for one who truly loved anatomy.
The days went by. I hadn’t been there yet.
My life is tricky, maybe much like yours.
I work a job, I try to pay my debts
and when the weekend comes, I do my chores.
What is it, anyway, about this place?
Who cares about the Museum of Sex?
It’s not a space that all consider safe,
and much there is inside that intersects.
If you have 18 dollars, though, you’re in.
It isn’t funded by the NEA
and doesn’t need to be. It’s a win-win.
The secret is that hanky-panky pays.
A business plan, you ask? You needn’t fear.
The public antes up to enter here.
My wife, at last, agreed to go with me,
and I was glad. She knew that I had planned
to try and conjure up some poetry
—erotic and obscene . . . I’d try my hand.
Much wiser now and having sown our oats,
we wouldn’t feel ashamed at being there,
but then she asked if I’d be taking notes.
This gave me pause. I do admit I care
about appearances. So how could I
take notes in a museum such as this
without a fear that one might ask me why?
These things, for me, aren’t easy to dismiss.
But then my wife suggested—good for her!
—that folks would likely say, “Oh look, a scholar.”
After having been . . .
A major disappointment, this. I’d hoped
to see outrageous paintings on display
or installations with machines and ropes
and groups of tantric acrobats at play,
the brave transgression of performance art.
There wasn’t anything about frottage,
no enemas and nothing on the squirt.
Not even an exhibit on massage.
There was the “Kinesthetic Camping Ground,”
“A Thousand Years of Chinese Imagery,”
and something called a self-pleasuring tent.
But three copulating elk? That took the crown
and undermined, a bit, one’s dignity,
although, I guess, I’m glad to say I went.
It might have fallen short in some respects,
a house of only curiosities,
but nothing there was not involved with sex,
so one was spared from true monotonies.
The John Boy doll, aghast and well prepared,
with orifices opened up like O’s,
had found himself, well, closer than he dared
to something called a Pleasure Periscope.
I saw the penis gourd, so primitive
it didn’t look to be much fun at all,
and then “The Juicer Chair,” prohibitive,
that featured on its seat a six-inch dowel.
The Virtual Girl we will not soon forget.
She wore a horse-tail butt-plug and a net.
Unrivaled here, my wife agrees with me,
was “The Uncensored Story of the Natural World.”
Well bless my soul! I never thought I’d see
a Spanish ibex frightfully aroused
and flexible enough—oh dear—to get
its member, Twizzler-like, into its mouth.
It looked so self-sufficient and content.
And what about those hedgehogs going south
—fellatio! Now this was news to us.
An Asian couple stood there pondering
the organ of the Black Rhinoceros,
appalling in its length and wandering.
The thing most recognizable, to me,
was two baboons in coital ecstasy.
Most hard for us to understand was this,
the homosexual necrophilia
of Mallard ducks, a monstrous kind of bliss
unheard of even in Slovenia.
One went on record—please, I kid you not
—engaging thus his dead friend on the shore
for 60 minutes till the money shot.
Abhorrent! Take me home. There can’t be more . . .
but wait. The pornographic bonobos!
Next to them the Japanese macaques
are almost saints. The lively bonobos
inquire into everybody’s cracks.
A caption says they often run amok
and mount whichever one is out of luck.
The Tijuana Bible, that was rich
—amusing some, demeaning many more,
a book of filth, according to the Church,
with images of clerics, nuns, and whores.
What was that cleric doing to the nun?
The drawing wasn’t altogether clear,
but we could see her habit was undone.
Was that a hand upon her naked rear?
The drawings of a wayward Donald Duck
implied he had unspeakable desires.
What villainy it took to make him quack!
Poor Donald. Even he was in the mire.
The Tijuana Bible—cheap and fun.
Back in the day, I might have gotten one.
What to tell the kids? That Mom and Dad
agree the “ass-lock” isn’t very nice
and “monkey rockets” only make us sad,
that these are the epitome of vice?
The less that’s said the better, in this case.
They would, I’m sure, be mortified to think
we paid to walk around in such a place,
and who can doubt they’d end up at a shrink.
That’s probably what we’d have to pay for next.
They’re still too young to realize that adults
are often keenly interested in sex
despite the fact we look like shuffling dolts.
After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
We’ve led our loved ones into the abyss.
Majô, my wife, was underwhelmed. The place
was funny, yes; sophisticated, no.
Venetians knew about erotic grace,
like Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto
—suggestion was the beauty of their art.
But here? The animals were a surprise,
those bonobos, the rhino’s private part . . .
Everything was right before our eyes.
That Asian couple showed up once again,
I don’t know how, inside a room with us.
They looked our way, and we, too, looked at them,
and then we got out quick, all four of us.
Nothing there was warm or intimate.
My wife said this, and I agreed with it.
If Socrates and Phaedrus had been ’round,
they might’ve had a thing or two to say,
especially Socrates. He would have frowned
upon the John Boy doll. While not dismayed,
he would have disapproved. He’d surely note
that in this place the hapless charioteer
would see his one good horse come down with bloat,
leaving the other horse—the bad—to veer
toward the copulating bonobos.
And thus, the charioteer is led astray,
away from heaven down to things below,
where wisdom often hasn’t much to say.
If this is where we’re destined, let’s at least
explore a fitting way to feed the beast.
A minute more, perhaps, with Socrates?
He’d say we feed upon the food of semblance,
the half-real nouriture for such as these,
the fallen ones, like you and me, entranced
among unrighteous and degraded things.
The food of which he speaks, they have it here.
The gift shop is replete with it: a string
of Dirty Fortune Cookies we can share
with friends; the Penis Pasta, that’s unique,
as are the labial pods of marzipan.
Not even Zabar’s matches this boutique.
Confections here will tempt the Son of Man.
Let no one tell us that we’ll go to hell
for buying edible Jo Atomic gel.
It’s Christmastime, a time to purchase gifts
for those we love: my two sisters and brothers-in-law.
So back we went, my wife and I. What if
we bought a few of the curious things we saw?
Those Pussy Sours, they would score some points
with Paul and Angelo. The Gummi Bears
shaped like penises are not for saints,
but Jennifer and Penny wouldn’t care.
And lo! My wife observed two elderlies,
older than us, at least, at the vibrator table.
A store clerk spoke to them, explaining these,
telling them as much as he was able.
The woman held a big one in her hand
and made some reference to “the promised land.”