Vasectomy

By Philip Appleman b. 1926 Philip Appleman
After the steaming bodies swept
through the hungry streets of swollen cities;   
after the vast pink spawning of family   
poisoned the rivers and ravaged the prairies;   
after the gamble of latex and
diaphragms and pills;
I invoked the white robes, gleaming blades   
ready for blood, and, feeling the scourge   
of Increase and Multiply, made
affirmation: Yes, deliver us from
complicity.
And after the precision of scalpels,
I woke to a landscape of sunshine where   
the catbird mates for life and
maps trace out no alibis—stepped   
into a morning of naked truth,
where acts mean what they really are:   
the purity of loving
for the sake of love.

Philip Appleman, “Vasectomy” from New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996. Copyright © 1996 by Phillip Appleman. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press, www.uapress.com.

Source: New and Selected Poems 1956-1996 (University of Arkansas Press, 1996)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Philip Appleman b. 1926

Subjects Relationships, Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, novelist, editor, and Darwin expert Philip Appleman is known for his biting social commentary and masterful command of form. The author of numerous volumes of poetry, three novels, and half a dozen collections of prose, Appleman’s range of subject matter includes Darwin, politics, morality, and sex. Art Seidenbaum in the Los Angeles Times described Appleman’s second novel, Shame the Devil (1981) as entertaining and . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.