A Poem by Rachel Kessler

The Killer Whale’s Penis

What does the killer whale
with his six-foot-long penis out
think will happen
when he drapes it
over another male’s back?

They don’t have hands,
the naturalist says.

The killer whale’s penis is pink
and prehensile, wandering.

The young males wrestle and slap the water.
Walt Whitman’s lusty singing,
Lil’ Wayne’s nasal giggling,
the killer whale thinks about these things.

The killer whale isn’t even actually a whale
but you already knew that
when you saw him roiling
at Sea World.

He rolls over the way he was trained
for snacks and a hand job.
We have all seen our share of heartbreaking
ejaculations, but this —

Let us leave the poem
with an image of vigor.
Let us leave the young males
in the wild: watch them hurl
their bodies up into the air.

Later, they return to their mom’s house
to babysit their younger siblings.
Late at night in front of the television,
the killer whale’s penis is out.
He is young and not ready for breeding.

In the cold blue light an old female
takes him inside her. They rub
and push against each other.
He keeps one eye
on the tv.

Which is not to say he didn’t enjoy it.

From such large brains
comes a variety of appetites.

Rachel Kessler is cofounder of poetry performance collaborations The Typing Explosion and Vis-à-Vis Society. Her work appears in The Stranger, Narrative Magazine, Tin House, Poetry Northwest, and public restrooms throughout Washington State.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.