Sunday, March 20, 2011

Richard Cambridge

Made in America
A poem by Richard Cambridge

On the checkout counter of a Boston pet store
there’s a sign that says:

               Ask for our new video

And as if the sign alone isn’t enough,
there’s a 3 X 5 snapshot of a marmalade kitten
squatting on the toilet seat,
whizzing into a potty attached by clips to the rim of the bowl.

Where do these gadgets come from?
Who makes them? Where are they manufactured?
And who dreams them up in the first place?

I saw a film once that took a jabberwalk
through the underbelly of America.
You wouldn’t believe what gizmos and gadgets
lurk behind factory doors.

A whole plant devoted to making masturbating machines!
Row upon row of little mechanical men
fashioned from what looked like erector sets
swinging arms with padded cylinders for cupped hands,
describing perfectly calibrated arcs into plastic penises.

Look Ma— no hands!

Imagine being asked at a party what you do for a living
and having to say you’re a shop steward supervising
a maintenance crew that squirts machine oil
into masturbating machines to keep them running smoothly.

I remember back in the innocent days of youth
getting some mail at the college dormitory,
gawking in amazement
at an X-Rated catalog depicting
stiff but rubbery cocks in all shapes and sizes:
short, squat ones; long, skinny ones; big, hefty ones.
They even had the veins sculpted in.
(One looked just like mine!)
And across the page in assorted pastel colors,
a row of plastic vaginas.
$9.95 each. $19 for the pair.
My roommate and I were goofing on some reefer at the time.
He said, “Why don’t we get the pair?”
I said, “Yeah, let’s put them on the bookshelf
and see if they start doing each other.”

What will the archeologists think of us a thousand years from now
when they unearth this stuff?
Will they remember that we dropped the Bomb?
That we were the most powerful nation on the earth?
Or will they say,
holding the shard of a potty seat,
the rusted arm of a masturbating machine,
or the broken off head of a squat, mushroom-shaped penis:

"What clever people. What clever people!"

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