They decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin
over Ken's bulging neck socket. His wide jaw line jostles
atop his girlfriend's body, loosely,
like one of those novelty dogs
destined to gaze from the back windows of cars.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country Camper
unsure what they'll do when they're within touching distance.
Ken wants to feel Barbie's toes between his lips,
take off one of her legs and force his whole arm inside her.
With only the vaguest suggestion of genitals,
all the alluring qualities they possess as fashion dolls,
up until now, have done neither of them much good.
But suddenly Barbie is excited looking at her own body
under the weight of Ken's face. He is part circus freak,
part thwarted hermaphrodite. And she is imagining
she is somebody else—maybe somebody middle class and ordinary,
maybe another teenage model being caught in a scandal.
The night had begun with Barbie getting angry
at finding Ken's blow up doll, folded and stuffed
under the couch. He was defensive and ashamed, especially about
not having the breath to inflate her. But after a round
of pretend-tears, Barbie and Ken vowed to try
to make their relationship work. With their good memories
as sustaining as good food, they listened to late-night radio
talk shows, one featuring Doctor Ruth. When all else fails,
just hold each other, the small sex therapist crooned.
Barbie and Ken, on cue, groped in the dark,
their interchangeable skin glowing, the color of Band-Aids.
Then, they let themselves go— Soon Barbie was begging Ken
to try on her spandex miniskirt. She showed him how
to pivot as though he was on a runway. Ken begged
to tie Barbie onto his yellow surfboard and spin her
on the kitchen table until she grew dizzy. Anything,
anything, they both said to the other's requests,
their mirrored desires bubbling from the most unlikely places.
 
From Kinky, Orchises Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission of Denise Duhamel.

Poems by This Author

Buddhist Barbie by Denise Duhamel
In the 5th century B.C.
Buying Stock by Denise Duhamel
I know you won't mind if I ask you to put this on.
Delta Flight 659 by Denise Duhamel
I'm writing this on a plane, Sean Penn
Exquisite Candidate by Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton
I can promise you this: food in the White House
Exquisite Politics by Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton
The perfect voter has a smile but no eyes
Lawless Pantoum by Denise Duhamel
Men are legally allowed to have sex with animals
Permanence by Denise Duhamel
The barista at the coffee shop is covered in tattoos. She says there are only two
Sex with a Famous Poet by Denise Duhamel
I had sex with a famous poet last night
The Bottom by Denise Duhamel
I stopped drinking on my way down the hill
The Threat by Denise Duhamel
my mother pushed my sister out of the apartment door with an empty
Yes by Denise Duhamel
According to Culture Shock:


Further Reading

Poems About Passion and Sex
9.
by E. E. Cummings
Canterbury Tales, Wife of Bath's Prologue [Excerpt]
by Geoffrey Chaucer
A Greek Island
by Edward Hirsch
A Sequence
by Leslie Scalapino
Almost There
by Timothy Liu
Antique
by Arthur Rimbaud
Arts & Sciences
by Philip Appleman
At the Touch of You
by Witter Bynner
Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm
by Carl Phillips
Because I cannot remember my first kiss
by Roger Bonair-Agard
Blue
by May Swenson
Boston
by Aaron Smith
Carrefour
by Amy Lowell
corydon & alexis, redux
by D. A. Powell
Elegy 5
by Ovid
Erotic Energy
by Chase Twichell
First Turn to Me...
by Bernadette Mayer
Fish Fucking
by Michael Blumenthal
Fixed
by Christopher Stackhouse
In Praise of Shame
by Lord Alfred Douglas
Libido
by Rupert Brooke
Me in Paradise
by Brenda Shaughnessy
My Bright Aluminum Tumblers
by Michael Ryan
National Nudist Club Newsletter
by Wayne Koestenbaum
No Platonic Love
by William Cartwright
Novel
by Arthur Rimbaud
Poems of Passion and Sex
Prague
by Khadijah Queen
Privilege of Being
by Robert Hass
Safe Sex
by Donald Hall
Sex
by Michael Ryan
Song
by James Joyce
Stones
by Michael Blumenthal
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
The Elephant is Slow to Mate
by D.H. Lawrence
The Hug
by Thom Gunn
To His Mistress Going to Bed
by John Donne
Undressing You
by Witter Bynner
Wild Rose
by Bryher
XIII
by CÚsar Vallejo
Year of the Tiger
by Miguel Murphy