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The Deformity Lover 

By Felice Picano 

The first one he loved—an accident 
was a deaf mute 
golden lean as a West Coast 
basketball star. 
Surprised by his luck 
all he could think of was sex. 
Until after 
when they spoke on sheets 
writing messages in vaseline. 
They met after that 
once a week for some time. 
The sex got hotter 
their bodies fit better. 
Then his speech began to slip. 
Words seemed inexact 
and harsh 
compared to reading lips, 
or making a point 
with a fingertip 
or a kiss. 
Then the deaf mute went away. 

The next one was a blind boy 
at a college gym dance. 
A curly head of hair 
the body of a stevedore, 
an Adriatic address, 
convinced him this would be special. 
He wasn't disappointed. 
This time they talked 
but softly, 
never looking at each other 
in the bedroom's blinded night: 
letting touches rediscover 
soft steppes of ribs, 
meadows of flesh, 
seas of infinite skin. 
They got together often— 
geographers of the tactile. 
Each visit left him thinking 
our senses— 
so misused when there— 
when missing, are seldom missed. 
Then the blind boy found a lover. 

Since then he's gotten bolder 
for what others pass over. 
An afternoon with a veteran 
who happened to have left an arm 
in a rice-paddy in Viet Nam 
disproves that two hands 
are better than one. 
A night with someone older 
whose seizures 
when he's ready to come 
aren't orgasm, but pre-Grand Mal 
becomes a game of sex 
Nothing indiscreet. 
No ads in the papers for amputees. 
No loitering near the handicapped 
hoping a hunchback wants to connect. 
It's beauty 
not the grotesque he seeks. 
But the only perfection he can see 
is that most apparently, 

This isn't a case from Kraft-Ebbing. 
If asked, 
he'd say he's a normal guy. 
For him a chiselled profile is fine, 
but handsomer with a speech defect. 
A well-defined chest will evoke 
his desire 
but heavily scarred or mispigmented 
its athletic cut is more gratifying. 
Deformity is a grace, he'll say. 
Like courage, it's clean 
and always naive 
open and free, no hiding— 
the truest state of man perhaps. 
Want to see him use this philosophy? 
You can find him almost every night 
in any one of a half dozen bars. 
He's a hospital ward 
for the maimed young gods: 
a port for anyone's surgical storm: 
looking to fuck 
the human condition. 

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Continue to the author's
Historical Note on "The Deformity Lover"

"The Deformity Lover" is reprinted with permission of the author from The Deformity Lover and Other Poems (Sea Horse Press, 1978). The book is out of print but is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other sources for used books.

This page is part of the disabilities issue of True Tales, which includes articles, stories, photography, and links related to leather and disabilities.

About the Author

Copyright © 1978 Felice Picano. All rights reserved.
The text on this page is copyrighted and may not be reprinted, posted, e-mailed, or otherwise distributed except with permission of the author. You may save one copy and print out one copy of this page for your personal use.

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