On a Greek Vase
Below the rim, a citizen carries a penis
detached from his body
and so big its head could be the thumb
of a god about to stub someone out.
But then you notice foreskin-folds and a vein
running river-like to the base
where a little spade-shaped bag of skin hangs.
Once this is clear—prick not thumb—
you see what the man carries
is a burden: his calves flex
against the black of the old clay.
Left-face, shoulders square,
with the affect of the empty-handed,
he’s moving forward
as if the pretense of another purpose
could lighten this load.
Marc Woodworth is the author of Arcade (Grove Press), a collection of poems, and Bee Thousand, a volume in Continuum's 33 1/3 series of books on seminal rock and pop albums. He teaches at Skidmore College and is associate editor of Salmagundi. (3/2009)