On Being Thirty-Six

By JONATHAN MOODY 

after Philip Larkin

 

I feared these present years,

the mid-thirties,

when my receding hairline

became backed up

like rush-hour traffic on the Gulf Freeway,

& my man-boobs swelled

 

into Tig Ol’ Bitties. I wonder:

can Dr. Neil

deGrasse Tyson explain

the phenomenon of how

scrotum sacs start succumbing to gravity?

Each time I bend down,

 

it sounds like there are branches

breaking inside

of my knees—

a burden I wish

stemmed from long hours of shooting hoops

& stealing the rock

 

from flashy point guards

more in love

with the sound of their

own dribble than the sound

of their coach sliding “W’s” in the Win column.

I’m four years

 

shy of having a doctor

cram a microscope

in my chili con queso

to detect if any cauliflower-

shaped polyps have sprouted in my colon.

How real this shit be;

 

ritual, you’re tacky:

a neon sherbet orange

 

sweater handed down,

illuminating the fact

that I’m slowly turning towards decay.

I just want to live life

 

unencumbered by lower

back pain,

by overzealous

students insisting

my soothing bass will give Morgan Freeman’s baritone

a run for its money

 

when it comes

to narrating

the lives of geoducks,

tortoises, & tuataras:

animals that will outlive great-grandparents

 

but never the legacy

behind amazing

architecture shaped

like a lotus flower.

The body isn’t a temple; it’s built

to wither.

 

I choose to shrivel

up with grace

in autumn, falling

in slow motion

with brass leaves extending the muted sound

of a jazzy zephyr.

 

Jonathan Moody is the author of The Doomy Poems and Olympic Butter Gold, which won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize. 

Julia PikeOn Being Thirty-Six

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We love any excuse to hear from our contributors! This month, our Issue 13 authors and poets tap into their literary communities as they recommend works by colleagues, friends, and Pulitzer Prize winners. United in their affection, the authors are nonetheless divided by their selections, as their choices shed light upon nowhereness, colonization, and Florida oranges.

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Once in a car, a good boy / shook me hard. If you like it / that way in bed, then why are you… / the tiny bruises on my arms / where his prints pressed into my pink/ sleeves rose to the surface like rattles. / Like requests. They thrived there / for a week until they settled /