Paul Hostovsky

Dog Shit
I like to watch him sniff around for the perfect
place to void. I think this is the poetry of place
in his aesthetic universe, which is small but
surely very deeply felt. Look how discriminating
he is: Here. No, here. No. On second thought,
here. The same delicate choices you might make
in a poem. A poem about dog shit. He is brutally
honest as he turns and turns, shifts, lifts the inky
feather quill of his tail and quiveringly, yet firmly
makes his mark, his nose in the wind, his eyes
tender, elsewhere, his mind on something I can’t
read from here because it’s already leaping ahead
to the next thought, the next scent, scene, figure,
landscape, the next new chapter, the next great poem.

I can still see the pharmacist’s face
as he sized me up at the register
and fished the Trojans out from under
all that camouflage of candy
piled on top like a piebald football team
in Troy, then counseled me with a wink, “Don’t
mix these up with those.” I was fifteen, a freshman
on an errand. Faith was much older, a senior
expert on the hydraulics of the penis
of her ex-boyfriend, Mark Winkles, whom
she forsook for my more literary point of view.
But I only ended up disproving
every borrowed theory of hydraulics
that between the two of us
I couldn’t come up with
that terrified, truant spring afternoon
we were scheduled to do it. “Fucking,”
Faith had warned me three months earlier,
speaking from her vast singular experience,
“is very intense. We’re going to have to
prepare you for this.” But our preparations
amounted to her talking about it all the time
which only served to undermine
my confidence. Under the leadership of Epeios
the Greeks built their wooden horse
in three days, which allowed them finally to enter Troy.
For three whole months Faith built up “fucking”
to the point where I was totally
psyched out. When the time finally came,
I couldn’t get it up. I couldn’t get the Trojans on.
And I couldn’t get inside Faith, who finally, quietly
gave up, and went back to Mark Winkles,
leaving me in ruins, scarred for life.
But what I want to know is,
is this a classic story
or an atypical one?



Paul is the author of Bending the Notes, Dear Truth, and A Little in Love a Lot. Visit his site: