“The Bathhouse: A Sestina in B-Natural” by Davidson Garrett

Towels wrapped around waists of torsos,
half-nude men swagger through darkened halls
concealing their prized penises—
seeking relief for sexual frustration
interwoven with repressed guilt & fears
while HIV lurks, threatening the game.

Strangers cruise in a sensuous game,
roaming eyes gaze at buffed torsos—
steroid-pumped torsos full of queer fears
gathering in a maze of narrow halls
scented by poppers. Succor for frustration
while couples pair-off to worship penises

in a market place stocked with penises
devoid of rules dictating the game.
An escape for closeted frustrations
with plenty of big rippled torsos
massed safely together in eerie halls
retreating from deep-rooted boyhood fears.

Years of amplified homophobic fears
by preachers damning acts of penises
echo like screaming ghosts in steamy halls
haunting players in this erotic game
as smug narcissists lure torsos
begging a quick-fix for carnal frustrations.

Midnight approaches, pent-up frustrations
are drugged by crystal & coke; ever fearful
arms enfold around perspiring torsos
as lucky mouths suck erect penises
inside cubicles. Scoring in the game—
exploding orgasms rumble the halls.

At dawn, the anonymous halls
greet a fresh batch of homos—frustrated,
allowing a new team for the sex game
to mollify suppressed religious fears.
Roving hands jerk agreeable penises
dangling from the groins of tender torsos.

Biblical fears of penises
created this torso-hunting game
in grim halls pacifying lifelong frustrations.


Davidson Garrett was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and trained for the theatre at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity and is a graduate of The City College of New York with an M.S. in Education.  His poetry has been published in Xavier Review, The Stillwater Review, First Literary Review East, The New York Times, The Episcopal New Yorker, and in Podium, the online journal of the 92nd Street Y.  Davidson is the author of the poetry collection, King Lear of the Taxi and the chapbooks, To Tell the Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems, Southern Low Protestant Departure: A Funeral Poem, and What Happened To the Man Who Taught Me Beowulf? and Other Poems.