Urinals

By Matthew Yeager

 

        U        
        URINALS
I
N
A
L
S
Vitreous, oft-white, wall-mounted, what runs
flavid down each steep face collects in a font
you'd never dip your fingers in. Public things,
out of place in homes, their torso-like forms
gleam in rows beneath bright humming tubes
in windowless rooms behind doors that lack
knobs.   Nearly half the first world knows all
too irksomely the subtle variations of urinals,
what vast differences can be made by height,
style, proximity, number, partitions. (I write
only in memory of feelings.) The greater half
turns on heel, flees at the sight of them, fresh
ly aghast at their peculiarity.   Like an algebra
problem whose answer is a violin, the urinal's
fanciful shape is arrived into using a rationale
of brutish functionality. This makes it lovely.
Its glazed Art-Deco curves trace their origins
to the propensity for male equipment to drip,
drizzle, spray in a rake. Herein lies a urinal's
quiddity: At one, you must perform. At one,
you can’t miss. You're shooting into a barrel
of fish. You can close eyes, can nod or rock
back your head, stare at the ceiling, whatever
you need to still your mind into the necessary
zero from which a flow can begin. Flanked
close by grown men, it is
often not so
easy
Matthew Yeager

Matthew Yeager's poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere.  His long poems have been included in several anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2005 and 2010.  "A Big Ball of Foil in a Small NY Apartment," his micro-budget short film, was an official selection at eleven film festivals in 2009-2010, picking up three awards.  Other distinctions include the Barthelme Prize in short prose, fellowships to MacDowell and Yaddo, and inclusion in Oprah magazine’s “Top 30 Love Poems of All-Time.”  The co-curator of the KGB Monday Night Poetry Series since 2011, Yeager worked in the NYC catering industry for fourteen fucking years in various capacities: truck driver, waiter, sanitation helper, sanitation captain, bartender, bar captain, lead captain, producer.  His first book, Like That (Forklift Books, 2016) received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly.  His second book, Porm, is in the can and will be out at some point.  He is currently a doctoral fellow at the University of Cincinnati, where he lives with the poet Chelsea Whitton and their cats Merle and Dolly.