Safe-Sex Fetishism

—from A Gallery of Ethopaths

Our cowardice and fear-stooped necks
Are shown in how we handle sex.
We’re appalled by open lust,
And experts tell us that we must
Constrain and shackle it in ways
To make it bland as mayonnaise.
Our stupid, fearful bourgeoisie
Takes this to heart implicitly,
And strives to make sex nice and tame—
Clean and refined as a parlor game.
Other nations know that’s crazy;
Sex is a thornbush, not a daisy.
But in the U.S. suburbs, folks
Want sex to be “safe,” like fresh egg yolks.
Only our pious middle class
Imagines you can get some ass
In a polite and well-bred manner
Under a hygienic banner,
Smiling and sweet, with lust inertial,
Pure as an Ivory Soap commercial.
This is a daft, absurd illusion,
Fruit of sick bourgeois delusion.
Sex is a blowtorch, incandescent,
Hot and malignant, vile, tumescent,
Leaving you, once you’ve reached completion,
In puddles of sweat and rank secretion.
Everyone knows that sex is kinky,
Somewhat degrading, often stinky.
It isn’t a fine, ennobling action
But a brute urge to satisfaction.
Venus is one hard-bitten bitch
Driving us mad with her carnal itch;
She rules in a world of unreined lusts,
Lubricants, groans, and violent thrusts,

Spittle besmeared on neck and nape,
Fetishist clothes, and the tang of rape.
Trying to make sex clean and squeaky
Turns boring and tame what should be freaky.
It’s only a disguised moral measure
To clamp down on erotic pleasure,
And this is the thought behind the tactics
Urging us all to use prophylactics.
Partisans scream about infection—
What really disturbs them is erection.
The condom-monger and his brood
Descend from the old New England prude
Who pinned the scarlet A on Hester
And ostracized the woman, lest her
Passion for life and love inspire
Other young maids to fleshly fire.
The Puritan and his grim confessions
Still dominate our health professions.
Old Calvinistic Watch and Warders
Dress their commands as “doctor’s orders,”
Disguising in a clinician’s garb
Religious scruple’s moral barb.
So watch out when these creeps suggest
That sexless sex is for the best.
Each is a tight-lipped Boston deacon
Worried that moral pith will weaken
If you have fun without constriction,
So they’ve benumbed erotic friction,
Saying that love must be repealed
By means of a six-inch rubber shield.
Tell them they all can go to Hades
And then go plumb a brace of ladies
Unbound by a silly latex fetter—
You’ll find your reaction is much better.


Note: A Gallery of Ethopaths is an epic-length satire, now coming to
completion, and being readied for full publication. Over thirty
sections of it have already been published in various journals.
The meaning of the word ethopathy can be understood from my
article on this coinage at

Joseph S. Salemi has published poems, translations, and scholarly articles in over one hundred journals throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. His four collections of poetry are Formal Complaints and Nonsense Couplets, issued by Somers Rocks Press, Masquerade from Pivot Press, and The Lilacs on Good Friday from The New Formalist Press. He has translated poems from a wide range of Greek and Roman authors, including Catullus, Martial, Juvenal, Horace, Propertius, Ausonius, Theognis, and Philodemus. In addition, he has published extensive translations, with scholarly commentary and annotations, from Renaissance texts such as the Faunus poems of Pietro Bembo, The Facetiae of Poggio Bracciolini, and the Latin verse of Castiglione. He is a recipient of a Herbert Musurillo Scholarship, a Lane Cooper Fellowship, an N.E.H. Fellowship, and the 1993 Classical and Modern Literature Award. He is also a four-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Prize.