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Secondary Sexual CharacteristicsAugust Kleinzahler
Vol. 29 No. 24 · 13 December 2007

Secondary Sexual Characteristics

August Kleinzahler

228 words


Spindrift of grunion spume in moonlight
Granular, sorrel-coloured, ammoniac
Upon the tide’s retreat
A meniscus of foam hissing in sand
The milt bores deep


His presence was more than unwelcome
The change room strictly off-limits
Except for the dancers

Relish of wild duck cooked with olives
The slight scent of prussic acid
A faint whiff of overripe peaches

These impromptu études endocrines of his
I can see him now in his velvet waistcoat
Holding court, a bunch of Parma roses
In lieu of a cravat, crowding his throat
And, of course, those miniature barrels of scent
Arranged there on the parlour shelf
What he called his ‘delicious little pipe organ’
That treasure of his revolting sensorium


Miss Emily Jones Nespith of Roanoke
Lets fall her precious lace hanky
But the gallant lieutenant takes little notice
His attentions elsewhere
Chiefly, in the direction of one Laura Grey Dwight
Who, all agreed, had ‘blossomed’ overnight
But the musk notes of the former’s errant gift
Were not lost on the house cat, Pip
Curled behind the skirts of the beige settee

The quadrilles played on
But Pip, Pip was grooving to a limbic tomtom
Head like a bobbledoll’s
Eyes like slits
Poor Pip
Drool at his lips
Caught up in a proper fit
A 9-cycloheptadecenone-addled marionette

– Kill me, fuck me, write me bad cheques

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