unfittest and unmourned


Complete Semen Study
Michael Ryan

morphology: “pinheads”: 2 percent

Laborious, stumpy, droopy, askew,
blundering into one another
while the healthy sperm zips by like the varsity water polo team
on their way to a party with the best-looking cheerleaders —
unbeautiful losers, unfittest and unmourned,
O my five-hundred-thousand-or-so pinheads
floundering in this plastic cup’s murky bottom,
what would you do to be half of someone?
Wank it sitting on the toilet in a fluorescent
pea-green hospital bathroom while learning to juggle one-handed
one cup and three brown-bagged Penthouses
offered by the deadpan female lab attendant?
You’d want it anyplace, I think.
They’d tie your wrists if you had wrists
to stop your rubbing off on fireplugs and brick buildings,
much less on a hand’s elastic flesh
you’re too dim to recognize is your own.
You’re the ones who can’t be taken to church
because you hump the pew cushions
while the rest of us are praying,
and try to straddle the priest’s leg like a puppy
while he exchanges an inspirational word or two
with each of his congregation as they file from the service.
I, on the other hand, am too mature for this.
The Pet-of-the-Month could almost be my granddaughter.
My metabolism has decelerated
to that of an elderly Galapagos tortoise
I could do very well all day sunning myself
under a thick, warm shell, and could easily take the next century
to burn the calories in a slice of pizza.
In the world for which my body was designed
I would have checked out long ago,
immolated at the ritual bonfire by my two hundred great-grandchildren
roasting a mammoth in my honor,
dancing for days stoned on sacred leaf juice,
and intermarrying like howler monkeys in the bushes.
It’s no doubt due to nights like this
that you weakened and malformed
and case your own watery tails until you decompose
into what the complete semen study classifies as “debris.”
The doctors say it’s age or car exhaust or groundwater toxins
or they-don’t-know-what, but eons ago there must have been a boy
waiting for the dopey old patriarch to die
so he could do his sister sweaty and writhing in the firelight.
If their child, slow-witted and guileless,
showed the endearing but useless gift
to greet everyone’s spirit no matter their status,
they might have thrown him the bones the dogs had finished with,
which is how they fed the shunned and the shamed,
unbeautiful losers, unfittest and unmourned,
O my five-hundred-thousand-or-so pinheads
floundering in this plastic cup’s murky bottom
I hereby hand over or removal and disposal
to the now surgically gloved
deadpan female lab attendant.

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