Poem in the Romantic Tradition by American Adult

By Katie Condon

Featured Art: Peach Bloom, by Alice Pike Barney

Every morning, I want sex.
Historically, men only give it to me
at night, after we’ve spent the better part

of the evening in the safety of the neon-bruised
dark of an American Sports Bar
that serves eighty kinds of mayonnaise.

In the morning, when I want sex,
I look out at the garden alive despite the frost.
Only gardens have a language

for light that spreads itself across the lawn
like marigolds or molten gold, like footage
of a wildfire with the sound off.

I drive down the highway and am
surrounded by language so American:

Gilded Dildos! Real Gold!
High Fashion Sweatpants Sold Here!

I try to pray, but can’t.
This is my sickness.
I am an American Adult.

Does light have sex
or is light sex?

is something I’d like to learn
while I’m still aboveground.

I hate our American language.
We call our most holy ceremony:
fuck bone nookie cram it in your ass!

Meanwhile, in silence, on fallen logs
the lichen makes ecstatic love to itself,
not to dawn’s wide-eyed dew.

Once upon a time I wanted
to be a viaduct when I grew up
or a lawn, well-kept and wantless.

I know now what Wordsworth couldn’t:

with my mouth on a house-sized
plastic road-side peach I chant,
What I desire this world cannot provide.


Katie Condon is the author of Praying Naked, winner of 2018’s The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize. Her recent poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and Ploughshares. She is an assistant professor of English at SMU.

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