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October 2014

Did you catch a poem published last year in The Awl  by Patricia Lockwood titled “Rape Joke" which went viral?

Facebook and Twitter shares made Lockwood an Internet-famous poet. She is not a poet laureate. She is not a professor (never finished college) and lives far from the hip places for poets in Lawrence, Kansas.

Her latest book of poems, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, has a number of "sexts" which are her short poems that are erotic and simultaneously ridiculous. Lockwood got attention for her tweets that were inspired by the Anthony Weiner scandal, which imagines surreal sex acts.

Here are two examples:

Sext: I am a water glass at the Inquisition. You are a dry pope mouth. You pucker; I wet you
Sext: I am a living male turtleneck. You are an art teacher in winter. You put your whole head through me

"Rape Joke” changed things. People have said it is funny, harrowing, important and not worth considering. That kind of response gets my attention.

Lockwood is not an unknown. Her last collection, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, made the New Yorker’s Best Books list for 2012.

Looking through the new collection you can find poems about sexed-up forest creatures that never appear in Disney films, the Loch Ness Monster, and Whitman and Dickinson appearing as ghosts. The poems swerve between hilarious and creepy, profane and profound.

All of this may make Lockwood sound like a lightweight. In a radio interview on Studio 260, she said “My baseline voice as a poet tends to be very serious, very grave. But in my life, I tend to be a funny person. It was a challenge that I set myself to try to integrate those two voices.”

Twitter posts ("tweets") are limited to 140 characters. Not a lot of space to compose. Then again, Ezra Pound's famous little poem, "In a Station of the Metro," fits nicely, title and all with characters to spare.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;   Petals on a wet, black bough.

One hundred and forty characters (including spaces and punctuation) actually makes for a long line of poetry. (The previous sentence is only 100 characters.)

Robert Frost would have gone over by only 3 characters if he had tweeted:

Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow

This prompt asked for poems composed of tweets. By this we meant "stanzas" of 140 characters that can stand alone. You can thematically thread together as many as you wish though, so your poem can be as short as 140 characters and as long as 140 X ?  Line lengths are your choice, but stanza length is 140 characters. (If you use Twitter, you might want to compose there as it counts your characters automatically.)

To make thing more interesting, we asked you to make the topic of your poem sex. Of course, that means that the serious and the not-so-serious side of the topic is fair game.

For more on this prompt and others, visit the Poets Online blog.


1: Hail Mary, full of grace—I can’t say that, I can’t say that. Cleanliness, security, serenity

2: I’ll go to hell. I’ve gone to communion, I’ve committed a mortal sin. Cleanliness, security, serenity

3: Cleanliness, security, serenity. & so, & so, so what? Father forgive me for I have sinned

4: No, that’s another sin, not confessing a sin is a sin, & then to go to communion with all that sin on one’s soul is an even bigger sin

5: No one knows—they think I’m so pious

6: My picture’s in the vestry along with Billy’s & the Avalas twins. Easter’s coming. I’ll have to serve at the altar & God will know

7: He’ll strike me down. Her breasts felt so soft. I’ve never seen anything so white. NO. NO. NO

8: I can’t think that, I can’t, that’s a sin too, even thinking about it & she laughed she laughed. Cleanliness security serenity

9: I have to get out of here. Father’ll come in soon to hear old people’s confessions. He’ll want to know why I’m here

10: It’s time for class. Sister Anine, afternoon reading. Walter & Clyde’ll be snickering in the back if I’m late. God forgive me

11: Cleanliness security serenity. I can do this. Show my contrition. No more voices Just pull & no more voices, I can do this

12:I’m pulling

13: shit it hurts god it hurts the blood’s getting all over the pew through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault

14: I can’t breathe i can’t breathe her nipple was so pink

15: god forgive me forgive me cleanliness security seren

Robert Carroll Miller


Why would you choose this prompt
among so many others?

I cannot respond to it.

I can't put rape and joke
in the same sentence.

Must be something here
that I am missing.

I see what's going on now -
not what I had presumed.

Caught up in the conceptual,
I knew that I knew.

Free from conceptual thinking,
I know that I don't know.

Bobbie Townsend


show me yours...
fingertips excite the touch sensitive screen
smudging to capture an undistorted view
enlarging the image of beckoning splay

screenshot saved to private file
for solitary future viewing
alone together alone together
...and I will show you mine

Anita Sanz


My friend told me a guy broke up with her via a tweet. Is that the opposite of sexting? Relationship over in < than 140 characters.
And there it is - online for all to see. That makes it very official. Did anyone retweet it?
Not even in a direct message. TMI. Isn't that what the kids say?
I want my love to be a trending topic. Retweeted over and over.
@MySadFriend I wish you no wifi, connections only of the flesh, a better man. #TrueLove

Lianna Wright


Told you that even Viagra works better in June.
At my age my soul needs something like Viagra.
Viagra is for the soul, which is why you need a prescription.

Ron Yazinski


I really, really didn't know what I was doing, all those years and all those climaxes ago. Never mind the virginity. It was intentional.

Yes. I had decided to bottle all of it and save it for you. Every last drop. Every once in a while, we uncorked it and tasted a little.

Scary how it almost consumed us, those few little drops. It was sweet and savage and I knew it would be the death of me. In the best way,

like she said, as she sang about the dark and wonderful unknown. It *was* wonderful, this unknown passion that threatened to undo me

and send me careening. There came that point that the wine tastings of the future glory were too much for me. Drunk on you. Drunk

on the need. The craving that was most certainly going to eat me alive—or at least my resolve—was staring me down. I wanted it to win so bad

I could taste it... but I corked it back up and I made it wait. Starved it for a while, to make it hungrier and hungrier.

They called it old-fashioned, and truly it was, for who waits for this sacred moment anymore? I felt it in my throat. The longing. I felt it

in my gut, the aching need. I became aware of words like "loins" because I needed a word for it. Such a good Bible word

for the good Bible girl. Longing and loins and lovers. Luscious L words.

Lingering. All the waiting had made you patient. When the day finally came, and the dam finally broke, you were ready

to wait a little bit longer. Just long enough to play skillfully and work wonders, without any training save a book and a song. We learned

together, those many romps ago. Your fingers worked me like they do that guitar, and I could barely breathe from the desperate hunger of it

all. Craving. One flesh. I consumed you and you filled me and it was unspeakably worth the wait. Every. Single. Time.

Who knew it could be new every time, and that every time would be my favorite? The years are swirling, and the taut flesh is aging,

and the guitar fingers ache a little in the morning. But you're still the best thing I ever tasted, and I'm still so glad it's been you.

Only you.

Laurie Sitterding


Red hot! You devour me in groves of lavender and sequins, devour me in blue and gold, devour my whole self! My overripe soul is your dessert

I rile your ripe soul lurking beside your tension, twisting in the sweaty afternoon, twisting to sultry evening, tasting every pore of you!

It is amazing how our bodies know to couple and uncouple, twist and turn, find the sweet spots without being directed by our conscious minds

Underwear, underwear, your underwear is everywhere! In my dreams, in my room, in my thoughts, even in my car. Where does it all come from?
R. Bremner