Monica Youn

Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre, which is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2016, Ignatz, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Barter. She teaches at Princeton and in the Warren Wilson and Sarah Lawrence MFA programs. A former lawyer, she lives in New York.


Bad Sex Is Abstract.



the ping pong ball



to the limit

of its elastic



speeds home


to its rubberized



almost as if            avid

almost as if            aspirational




they came / to blows / over who / rocked her / world harder




my cul-de-sac        my oubliette


my upside-down   omega


my pitcher plant    my thumb puppet


the mantle                   of my gas lantern



Bad Sex Possesses Identifiable Formal Characteristics.


Take my advice. You’re no virtuoso.

Licking the alphabet onto her cherry pit,

you somehow never got past g.

“Two fingers inside me and don’t stop


licking. The off button’s on the fritz;

your ammo’s soggy; you don’t know how

to find third gear. Sigh. She won’t stop

bucking. You’re up the crack without a saddle,


kemo sabe, you don’t know how

to slow her mustang down.

Breaking a bronco without a bridle

is way beyond your pay grade, partner.


You’d better shut Miz Thang down,

already. Far be it from you

to pee on anyone’s parade, pardon

your French, but Bonzo’s


all ready for bangtime. Time for you

to man up, mister. Turnabout’s fair play.

Your freshly pressed boxers

are overdue to be shucked. If you can’t


manage to terminate foreplay,

they’ll stay on forever: you won’t pass go,

you won’t accrue any bucks in her bank.

Mark my words. Vice is no fun without versa.


Bad Sex Demands Constant Vigilance.





Lust surveys its terrain


spies a silky white goat

on a golden chain


a banker pleading

with his lips and eyes


calluses sheathing a pole

dancer’s thighs


a tissue swabbing

a persistent drip


an ingrown

speedbump on the landing strip




Sweet southern boy, your serenade

a Carolina ballad,


But it takes more than marshmallows

to make ambrosia salad.




spatchcocked skewered

trussed and stuffed


basted with juices

breast side up


a spice rub

to tenderize the meat


but you fucking forgot

to switch on the heat.









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