All Eyes on Earth be urgently Attracted to 
that Hermaphroditic form I longed for having. 
I have it. All Hapiness. Derision won’t change the Body I swarm;
Nor Scorn, nor More Violence, or Lies 
Can try me Small. I ease around, Quasi-Octoroon 
    Of Sex’s quick Ball, très Black, confronted with these added Eyes
Batted against the temple Grace of my Body, my breasts—
     O am I a looked-at Dignity! demanding Serenade.
That tight thru-space between Seer and what’s Seen 
Might be Sensation’s rise, or Shame, or is Solicitation’s chance,
    the calculus arguing gender, sans 
the petty Knowledge divides my thighs. Remember me, 
the god Phanes, who created, cries; Use me,
    the god Hermaphrodite, who revises, replies:
I am their audience. Ain’t nothing here subpar!
Light breaks over all Eyes like sound plays the Guitar.


Copyright © 2024 by Rickey Laurentiis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“I wonder if when Slick Rick, Dr. Dre, Nas, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliot, Cam’ron, Dwayne Johnson or The Rock, Cassidy, Meek Mill, and counting, used the term, often pejoratively and seldom correctly, ‘hermaphrodite,’ in their young music, they remembered the place of distinction such queer bodies played in our ancient knowledge, prior to the overcorrecting mandate of white Christendom, as recorded in Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, who wrote 'And inasmuch as the Egyptians, especially those of Alexandria, had been accustomed to honor their [breasts-carrying river god, Hapi, and the Niles’ flooding] through a priesthood composed of hermaphrodites, a further law was passed [by Constantine] commanding the extermination of the whole class as vicious, that no one might thenceforward be found tainted with the like impurity?' I wonder?"

Rickey Laurentiis