Daniel Borzutzky

Orgasm as Poetic Commodity



I was looking for a tiny thing

Instead I found a dead thing under the bricks

We knew there were more dead things under the bricks

But we did not want to look for them out of fear of discovering them

All the same we had to find them

But the owners of the dead things were gone and we were trying to get on with our


We had little things of our own that needed us

We had careers to launch, deaths to document

In the city they were writing poems about orgasms

We cared about orgasms, but not the way we were supposed to

We found tiny things under bricks and we wrote poems for them, but the editors told us

they would prefer it if we wrote poems about orgasms

What kind of poems about orgasms?

Oblique ones in which the orgasm is a commodity whose value in the literary

marketplace can only be understood through the most subtle form of capitalist


Orgasm for orgasm’s sake, was a mantra that was often repeated in those days

There were orgasm poems everywhere and the little things we kept finding under

bricks were not, we were told, appropriate subjects for the present moment

We wrote on our blogs: it’s not our fault we keep finding dead things under bricks

We too love orgasms, but it’s sometimes hard to access desire when death is just so near

to your body

Hated that last phrase

Revised it over and over again so it didn’t sound like advertising copy

But the editors want poems that sound like advertising copy

Once while we were finding little things under the bricks, we made some calculations

I’ll give you fourteen orgasms in exchange for private information about how to craft

the appropriate language when writing an orgasmic poem about the destruction

of our village

Take away my entitlements, please, I don’t care much about my body anymore

Young men in our town fantasize about privatizing the bodies of older women with a

vast array of experience

Older women fantasize about privatizing the bodies of young men with no experience

We were looking for little creatures when we found used condoms buried under the


Inoculation which also helps to prolong the sexual act due to issues of friction and


I was about to have an orgasm when she said wait wait pull out okay

Why would you want to have kids if you’re unhappy, anyway, she said

If you’re unhappy there’s no reason to have kids

You need to be happy in order to take care of the emotional and physical needs of

another living being

Lost my erection

We wedged out the little things from beneath the rocks and we were surprised to find

poems in their mouths that told us stories about our lives we had not yet been

able to articulate

For instance, I had no idea I was sexually attracted to the smell of injustice

I had no idea that if given the choice I would rather imitate my own body than imitate

the body of someone whose body is more poetic than my own

This is an opportunity to use the orgasm as a way of making sense of these senseless


Being alive is a senseless tragedy: this is the subject of at least 94,000 American poems

Every time there is a problem with your orgasm, I am informed about it through

electronic messages I do not wish to receive

Lots of men writing sexual poems in couplets these days

It’s so Hiroshima Mon Amour of you to try to get laid during the documentation of a

foreign tragedy

I Googled myself again this morning

Nothing new

I am terribly afraid of disconnection

I need to hold onto your body as I search for other bodies beneath the rocks

I should take a little break, eat a little lunch then come back and make this poem more


Peanut butter, banana, yogurt, dark chocolate

Now I’m ready to tell you something:

I found some bones beneath the sand and I gave them to a man who claims to be able to

identify to whom the bones belong

I found a foot in the sand

It was still wearing a sock

I put the foot with the sock in a plastic bag and put it on my mantle and imagined that it

was my father’s foot and at night I took the foot out of the bag and I caressed it

If we don’t have a baby now, time’s a ticking

The foot was in the room with us when we conceived you, my mother told me

This might be why you are so obsessed with decomposition

In the hotel in the underground caves, an employee spent many hours trying to make

sure that our cable television functioned properly

Was I supposed to give him a tip

We tried to conceive a child while CNN played footage of an atrocity in a distant ‘third

world’ village

Summary: rhythm and cadence could use some work but the themes were suitable,

easily relatable for a sophisticated, contemporary audience

As a joke they sent us Jews to the confessional so we could have an authentic, foreign


We fucked while watching war footage on CNN and fondling a decomposing foot we

found in the desert

We hiked through the Pacific Northwest until we found a group of citizens who enjoyed

making love to the earth

They invited us to stick our penises in a hole in the ground

Show your appreciation to the earth, they said, by fucking it

Stay awhile, take a load off, unwind inside our mother, for a change

At the very least join us for tea


DANIEL BORZUTZKY‘s books include In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (Nightboat, forthcoming); The Book of Interfering Bodies (Nightboat, 2011); The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVox, 2007); and Arbitrary Tales (Ravenna Press, 2005). His poetry translations include include Raúl Zurita’s The Country of Planks (forthcoming, Action Books); Song for his Disappeared Love (Action Books, 2010); and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (Action Books, 2008). His work has been recognized by grants from the PEN American Center, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. He lives in Chicago.