The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


David Bottoms

Live Sex, Times Square, 1980

Once, in New York, I checked out a live sex show.

The woman, a youngish brunette, lay on her stomach on a mat
while a balding man mounted her from behind.

Occasionally she moved her hips
and a bruise the size of a small fist quivered

on her thigh like a leaf in the wind. All the while
she kept reading a book.

In another place entirely, she’d smile and flip a page
while the man did his best to interest her.

I kept dropping quarters into a rusted slot to prevent
the plastic curtain from closing,

and squinted hard in the dim light to see
through the scratched and yellowed plexiglass,

dropping quarters, wiping the window
with my sleeve,

straining to read the title of her book.




DAVID BOTTOMS's first book, Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump, was selected by Robert Penn Warren as winner of the 1979 Walt Whitman Award. His poems have appeared widely in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Paris Review, and Poetry. He is the author of eight poetry collections, two novels, and a book of essays/interviews. Among his many other awards are the Levinson and Bock Prizes from Poetry, an Ingram Merrill Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.



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