Mark Goodwin

As I Unzipped Myself to Confront
(or What Few Men Dare to Admit)

As I unzipped myself to confront
one urinal's porcelain worry
it seemed a million urinals slipped

whitely into a cold distance
either side of me.

Jesus, this was a big bog – I felt
lost in it; and O, I was so afraid

that a tall figure would appear and hinder
my ever getting started with my pee –
a pee that couldn't come in company.

So I concentrated
hard on watery thoughts,
drips and dribbles, Victoria Falls.

And then he was there at my side.

O, and a drop had just twitched at my tip
only to slip back startled like a vole – I felt
the tiny thread of it sucked
right into my terrified kidneys.

Then this man unzipped threat;
he pulled out an entire territory
(I know because I looked).
He staked his claim with his sour stink.

It was then that I knew who he was.

I'd seen his name tattooed in blue
on many an English urinal.
A proud stiff British name stating its claim:

O shit – it was Armitage Shanks.
And O God, as I looked down,
to read the inscription

set in the glaze of the porcelain scoop
I was having the misfortune of trying
to piss in,

my heart wet itself; my prick shrank
and stayed as dry as my throat.

I read the name, I read it again:
Twyfords, Twyfords, O what joy!

As Armitage harmlessly zipped up and left I wept.

With my eyes closed and dry; O,
I wept, wept and wept into
the yellow

pissfull distance of salty oceans.