Fucking Ass in the 19TH Century
or doing it with a sheep could land you in jail.
A penis was required to get you
on the books. Girl and girl was beyond
unspeakable. Legally, it didn’t exist.
Debates ensued: was penetration enough
or did one have to come? Didn’t matter
if it was man on man or woman or child
but the hole you found yourself stuck in
and whether or not someone would
report it. No mention of gay, straight or bi
in any of the books. Looking back, the laws
seemed fairly clear: a white man fucking
a black woman was fine as long as it was in
her pussy. But catching a black man
doing it to a white woman was beyond
the pale, didn’t matter what body part was
used. Age didn’t matter. Or whose bed
you shared. Just be mindful of where you put
that prick, what century you find yourself
living in. All through my teens, I never knew
what sodomy was exactly. Did it involve
the mouth? Was it anything other than
non-procreative ennui?—a gilded book’s
uncut pages left under a shroud of dust.
Timothy Liu is the author of nine books of poems, including the forthcoming Don’t Go Back to Sleep (Saturnalia Books). He lives in Manhattan with his husband.
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