In college I hadn’t gotten into poetry readings yet. I was more about short stories and playwriting back then, and sharing them in the workshops was enough for me. But I did go to a student poetry reading once, and the one thing I can still remember about it was a guy reading a poem called “Publish My Cock.”
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“Publish My Cock” was a poem about how the poet wanted to be published equally as much as he wanted some guy to fuck him.
He performed it with great energy, really seeming to love the words he was saying, and it made the crowd laugh and snap and go ‘woo!’ for him a little bit more than anyone else.
Afterward the poets and some of the audience went back to the dorms and partied. I randomly ended up in a room with a few acquaintances and the Publish My Cock guy. Another guy in there was particularly moved by his poem.
“Oh my god,” he said. “How did you come up with that line?!”
“It just came to me,” the Publish My Cock guy said, “I was so thrilled!”
Then he showed the guy the poem, and they laughed as they reread it together.
“Damn,” the other guy got real close to him, “someone really SHOULD publish your cock.”
It seemed like the Publish My Cock guy was well on his way to fucking his fan and probably getting published.
Years later when I was inspired to read my own poetry I kept that memory in the back of my mind. I mean, wow, the validation he must’ve received. The poem, the line really, mattered enough that it could be exchanged directly for his desires, ya know?
I’d eventually have some lines that seemed to matter to people too. Yet somehow I could never quite feel like I imagined the Publish My Cock guy felt that night. Even when I was published. Even when my cock was inside someone. I was always asking myself, is this all it is? Is this even worth it?
But after a while I realized that maybe the problem wasn’t my lines but his…
And how maybe I’d feel better if I didn’t care about any of those as much anymore.
March 2019, Boulder, CO
Listen to “Publish My Cock” here!
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