"What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith" [by Aaron Smith]

BAP 2013
What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith


Though you would never admit it, you’re still shocked by pubic hair

in Diesel ads on Broadway and Houston, and you wonder what

conversations lead up to a guy posing with his pants unzipped to the

forest. Maybe the stylist does it, but somebody had to think, let’s show

pubic hair, and was that person nervous about saying, hey, I have a great

idea: pubic hair. You think about David Leddick’s book Naked Men

Too, and the model with the cigarette whose mother photographed

him with his jeans falling off and his pubic hair showing and how that’s

weird and you can’t even begin to process how someone would let his

own mother photograph him nearly naked and why a mother would

want to. Everyone pretends pubic hair in pictures is artistic, but we all

know it’s really about sex, which you quickly remind yourself is okay,

too, because you’re liberal, which you sometimes think means you

don’t believe in anything because you want people to like you. Then

you think how you hate the phrase shock of pubic hair in novels and

spend the next several minutes trying to think of a better phrase, shrub

of . . . patch of . . . spread of . . . taste of . . . wad of . . . then you think

how Joyce Carol Oates describes fat men’s chests as melting chicken fat

in her story ____________ and get paranoid because you used to be

fat and can never get your chest as tight as you want no matter how

much you bench press. You make a mental note to send poems to

Ontario Review, Joyce Carol Oates is one of the editors and might like

your work. They published Judith Vollmer’s poem about the reporter

covering a murder scene, and you love her and her poems (maybe you

should send her an e-mail and see how she’s doing). Then you think

about pubic hair again, how embarrassing it can be at Dr. Engel’s when

he examines you and stares at it (do you have too much, how much

can you trim and still look natural) both of you trying to pretend it’s

professional when he asks you to move into the light, holds your penis

like a pencil, squeezes your balls, this guy’s fine, this guy’s fine, and you

don’t know how to be when he shakes your hand before you leave.

Then you feel perverted because you’re still thinking about pubic

hair, maybe everyone has pubic hair issues and nobody talks about it?

You know for a fact Laura does because she told you after she read a

Sharon Olds poem out loud and the two of you giggled. You think of

Tara, with thick eyeliner, who said well-groomed underarms are really

sexy and you adopted that phrase when you say you think underarms

are sexy, well-groomed underarms you say and friends agree, especially

Tom who also loves underarms and sex clubs. You pass a hot guy

(not as hot as the bag check guy at The Strand whose shirt comes up

when he puts your backpack on the top shelf) and you want to sleep

with him and stare, hoping he raises his arm so you can see his hair.


from The Best American Poetry 2013 edited by Denise Duhamel


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