Paul Hostovsky


I haven’t been sure of my cock since that day
it refused to stand up when it was supposed to–
which was the day we were scheduled to “do it”

one truant spring afternoon in my father’s house
when I was 16 and Faith was 18 and naked
and cocksure and straddling me on the bed, whispering
“fuck me, fuck me.” I’m not exactly sure why
it wouldn’t stand up. It may have had to do with
the age differential, or the vertical differential,
or the breathy imperative coming down from on high,
or the several weightinesses: There was the weightiness
of Faith herself, who wasn’t twiggy, chafing and bobbing
on top of me; and the weightiness of the prospect
of losing my virginity; and the weightiness of her position
as the editor of the literary magazine vis a vis my position
as the diffident young poet whose exquisite death poem
had blown her and the entire literary magazine staff away
with its lively metaphors and imagery and weightiness,
which I borrowed from the weightiness of the dying
of my father, from colon cancer, only two months before.
It was his poem and it was his death. And the bed was
his bed–he had moved out of my parents’ bedroom
when the pain got so bad he had to be alone–on which
Faith was alternately declaiming lines from my poem
and breathlessly adding the refrain “fuck me, fuck me”
while I lay beneath her, cock soft, in my father’s
sickbed, dying to fuck her, unable to, wanting to die.

Paul Hostovsky’s latest book of poems is Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Vere Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He makes his living in Boston as an ASL interpreter. Website:

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