The Future of the Pill

I want the science behind hormonal contraceptives for men to move faster.
I want it here now: the implant of steroid hormone progestin and the shots of androgen.
I want the plaster Paul Bunyan that stands with his ax and blue ox by the 101 in Klamath to have YAZ in his breast pocket.
I want the Brawny Paper Towels man to do commercials for Ortho Tri Cyclen. I want him to say, May cause blood clots or stokes.
If I could have it my way, mothers would take their teenage sons to the family doctors with cold hands.
Those cold hands would yank the boys’ cocks and twist their scrotums around with salad tongs.
Cold hands poke the pectorals, sticking a finger in the anus while pressing on the stomach.
The mothers would pat the arms of their sons, feel a sense of justice, buy milkshakes when it was done.
The boys would drink the cold milkshakes, sore and cold all over, and read the pamphlets’ tiny words.
They would be confused about when to start the packs and they would be too embarrassed to ask their mothers.
They would ask each other in the locker room if the white pills were the sugar pills. Or are they iron pills? Boys would wake up late for school and forget to take them. Boys would tell their girlfriends that they couldn’t have sex that day because of missed pills.
And the girlfriends would say whatever. The boys who forgot their pills would find their girlfriends fucking the boys who’d remembered theirs.
The boys would turn eighteen and question manhood. The boys would wonder if they had become men
when they took their first pill or was it the first time they had sex or would it be some other time in the future.
The men would go to college and gain fifteen pounds because their metabolisms weren’t the same. 
The men would get nauseous when they started a new pack or when their insurance switched it to the generic brand.
The men would sometimes take a Plan B and feel bloated and ugly. Their faces would break out.
The men would be grateful that their wives would wear a condom so they could quit the pill.
The men would have to go back on the pill when the wives couldn’t have orgasms with all that rubber between them.
The men would not be ready for babies yet. They would feel stressed about their unfinished degrees and manuscripts.
The women would buy the men flowers when they were feeling moody, depressed, or trapped. The men would be grateful when the hormonal birth control came out for women and they could have their bodies back.
The men, although grateful, would feel resentment for science’s slow pace and that they’d been on the pill for decades.
But this is not the way it will go when the male contraceptive comes out.  Men will hear the word Androgen
and soon Fox news will be saying, what is this world coming to? Men on the pill? Next they’ll be wearing skirts to work! Androgynous! And how could we live with our men not fertile?  How can America be the Lumber Jack
that it is if his spermatozoa is sipping tea and reading books, uninterested in reproducing?
Can’t we just be okay with that? Can’t the Lumber Jack sometimes wear a skirt 
because it’s comfortable? Can’t he carry the baby too because it’s soft, and not just the sharpened ax?



(an introduction)

This word looks so odd,
and maybe I’d say it less if I could see it slouching from my lips, the way
it stretches out like grey Silly Putty
and hangs in the middle, the o’s two vacant cartoon eyes as sincere
as tire swings, sincere
as the idioms I hear but cannot see, As good as it can be and I’m good for it and
It’s so Good to be here.
I have friends who say, “So Good” about everything, and they draw out the So
to Sooooooo Good, all the o’s like a million
young coconuts weighing down a palm, pulling and stretching it towards
the ground until finally
a few of the dumb ones roll off into the ocean and the palm can slap back up. 
How’s the coffee this morning?
Sooooooo Good. If they really like something, then the vowel train gets longer
and by the end of it
I don’t want or require the details, I just want off the train.


It seemed like a good time to sneak
her boyfriend, Frazier, into her bedroom since her good cop father was not
yet home, not expected home for a good
half hour, which seemed plenty of time for a few good gropes and long kisses
that made her feel so good she couldn’t
feel guilty, surely their zealous fecundity was making a tree grow in a parking lot
or giving wings to some good cause, 
surely she was still good, even though her father would say she was not the good coin
he thought she was,
that she was counterfeit, a phony, that her good background and good name
were no good anymore,
that she would need a good amount of yard work as punishment for straying
from the good path. When the cop car
pulled up and they were both nearly naked, their good figures blushing
and tender like good cuts of beef,
she gave Frazier
a good shove out the backdoor, pointed to the desert surrounding the fenced yard, and
when he stalled, saying, It’s good
to stand up to your father at age sixteen, she forgot good manners and shoved
him again, threw his flannel shirt after him,
and whispered go, go, go with all the violence she could conjure, because
she knew that standing up to her father
was in fact, the farthest from good that bad could be.



LAUREN HENLEY was born and raised in Joshua Tree, CA. Her work appears and is forthcoming in many journals including: A River and Sound Review, The Medulla Review, Eclectica, River Styx and Prick of the Spindle. She is the winner of the 2012 Duckabush Prize in Poetry. You can hear her read poetry about living in Humboldt, CA, and see some of her photography at