Mr. Libby was incredibly kind to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss with me Erotica Atomica, my book of poems on our nuclear legacy. Some years ago, he interviewed me on the release of Add Musk Here, a collection of my prose poems. Though he claims he is not “a poetry expert or anything like that,” his insights on poetry and the world are always fascinating.
JB: You’re back in the news again. How does it feel?
SL: It feels good to be exonerated.
JB: Where have you been hiding?
SL: Right amongst y’all.
JB: Do you have any comments for us on Mr. Trump’s pardon?
SL: You said we were going to talk about Erotica Atomica. You said that all questions about the pardon were off limits. Right?
JB: That’s true. I just thought you might have something you want to say.
SL: So, my turn to ask questions. What’s “erotic” about your book? I’m looking at the definition, and here’s what I’ve got:
1 : of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire–erotic art
2 : strongly marked or affected by sexual desire
JB: Speaking of erotic, what do you make of Trump’s pay-offs to silence all the women he’s had sex with? Is this a desire to destroy oneself through one’s sexual appetite?
SL: Tell me about the cover photograph of your book, the x-rayed hand. Do you consider this to be “erotic art”? By the way, here’s the definition of pornography, not that I’d ever accuse you of porn, my dear friend.
1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (such as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
Now, you gotta admit, erotic and pornographic sound pretty similar.
JB: Or is Trump just a wealthy white dude caught practicing his wealthy white sexual privilege?
SL: I kind of like seeing this hand through the skin, but for me, that’s not erotic. In fact it’s quite the opposite.
JB: Was Trump’s pardon of you, Scooter, a signal to Michael Cohen, Trump’s Mr. Fix-It, to keep quiet and if he does, Cohen will also be pardoned?
SL: There’s an image online of two skeletons kissing one another. I’m not sure I’d call it “erotic,” but I have a funny feeling you would.
JB: And then some say that Trump’s pardon of you is a warning to Mueller that Trump will pardon all the Trumpian cronies that Mueller might indict or, God forbid, convict.
SL: There’s also images of x-rayed skeletons doing yoga. I don’t do any of that yoga stuff myself, as I don’t ever want any of these weird religious beliefs seeping into my brain while trying to do one of those ungodly positions. But I have to admit it’s hard not to watch “This Is Your Skeleton Doing Yoga.”
JB: So maybe there is something erotic about the x-ray?
SL: I’ll leave that to the poets.
JB: Any advice you would offer someone being pursued by a zealous prosecutor?
SL: The hand on your cover has a ring on. Is this a woman’s or a man’s hand?
JB: Any advice for Melania?
SL: On the back cover of your book, it says it’s a man’s hand, so you’re featuring homoerotic art?
JB: Any advice for Ivanka?
SL: Now it looks to me that it’s a rather small hand for a man, not that I’m an expert on hands, mind you.
JB: Are you commenting on Trump’s manly man’s hands?
SL: There you go again. One last question. Are you trying to say with this book of yours that the atom is erotic? Or that the atomic bomb is erotic? Or both? Because that’s pretty messed up, my friend.
JB: I believe that the hands in the x-ray are a woman’s hands. The wife of Roentgen. A friend of mine tells me that the hands found in the caves in southern France have now been said to be women’s hands. That means these women were shamans, visionaries.
SL: You poets. You think everything is erotic.
JB: You don’t?
SL: Now if you want an erotic poem, I’ve got one for you, by Basho:
Having sucked deep
In a sweet peony,
A bee creeps
Out of its hairy recesses.
Now that’s erotic art! You like it?
JB: I’m not sure.
SL: Hey, I just got a call. I gotta scoot.
JB: A call from Trump?
SL: Good try. Bye.