The best sex poem you will have

Topography Sharon Olds Poetry Writing Reading Books Literature

Good things can be found via a well-edited Twitter account. Mine is not one. Per the advice of a few Twiterati friends, I am following back everyone and anyone who will follow me. So, I inevitably follow someone called ‘Bella Swan’ and another called ‘Cupid’s Arrow.’ No offense, but their thing is just not my thing.

Among those I eagerly follow though is Harper’s Magazine, who of course does not follow me back. Through their Twitter account, I read an article written by Tony Hoagland and titled “Twenty Little Poems that Could Save America.”

I confess I stopped reading once I got his message: let’s read more poetry (I agree). But, those interested in the topic should go ahead; it looks great.

Of the twenty poems he thinks could save America, one in particular blew my mind. It’s called ‘Topography’ and is by Sharon Olds. Hoagland uses it to show that poets should write more about sex. Yes, they should, especially if they do so like Olds does.

Here is the poem, in case the image above proves difficult to read:

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This is part of my second collaboration with Zeteo is Reading. To read more, please click here.


  1. Jeanne

    I’ve liked this poem since I first read it because it reminds me of an old jazz song, Popsicle Toes. Also the part in Lysistrata where the men proposed to divide up the woman, “Peace,” near the end.

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