Note from the Editors







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New Math and Other Bodily Functions

I figured it out because I like to count things

and because I’d had a little Johnnie Walker

and because I hadn’t been able to think

about poems all day and I needed

to defend myself from the insanity that comes

from not being able to think about poems all day.


Sometime around the age of 14 I started

taking two a day, and today I turned

44, so 30 years of twice a day, assuming

the days I missed one canceled out

the days I took an extra one, and

the days I went camping balanced out

October 5, 1982, when three different

games of football and bruised sex

and a lot of drinking afterwards lead

to six, the last of which lasted for hours

while I was passed out on the tile,

my right hand bleeding from the wall

I punched for a girl I’d later marry

and even later divorce, amicably,

plus once a day the first 14 years,

including 4 leap years and then 8 more

leap years at the increased rate, figures

out to 27,030 showers, and even

for the master of the three minute

shower, shampoo on hair, pits, balls

and ass, then the good stuff for my face,

although it’s usually more like five minutes

to let me scrub my feet with the little

blue pumice stone from Sally Beauty Supply,

totaling 135,150 minutes, or 2252 hours,

or somewhere near 100 days, or a third

of a year, hopefully a dirty year, hopefully

a bad year, say when I was 13 maybe

and just discovering all the possible reasons

a teenaged boy might need to start showering

twice a day, including getting the scent

of your father off of you, including having time

to think about poems, and, yes, including

hormones and the recent discovery

of just what your body could make while wet,

that’s about 338,000 gallons of water, at least

at the new maximum approved rate of 2.5 gallons

per minute in effect since 1995,  I’ve sent

down the drain along with God knows how much

dirt, spit, and other various unnamed excreta.


In other words,

I figured it out because I had to

because I never could please my father

and because, of course, I hope that some day

in the not too distant future a critic

deconstructs my numbers and discovers a mistake,

making clear how impossible it is to actually

communicate anything, even the amount of time

one spends in the shower, reliably using symbols

like numbers or words which have nothing to do

with reality but hopefully create another reality

during the experience of the poem, but which

in Freudian terms might be considered a slip,

and in this case could be a slip that makes

this whole personal history of showers

meaningful, at least in a cleansing,

cathartic sort of way.



Author of 4 collections of poetry and more than 400 poems published in various journals and anthologies, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, author of “Musings” (a weekly poetry column), and founder of Poetry Hickory.  He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.  

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