The Sex-Life of the Mollusk

or Pornography is where you Make it
Poem by Linda Nochlin  
Drawings by Elizabeth Jaeger  

"The beginnings of copulation in the mollusks, for example, give way to very strange gropins before the act is adapted."
-Jean Piaget

Beneath the surface of the sea
Lurk shoals of shelled perversity;
Who would believe that bivalves share
In sins to which the flesh is heir?
Or that the inoffensive squid
Indulges his calcareous id?

The mollusk lusts in bed of slime,
Where, sheltered by unblushing brine,
His moist, tentacular embrace
Hovering on satisfaction, waits
Til strangely groped by mollusk mate,
His partner oozes to her fate.

Oh, who would dream of deviation
In such restricted circumstance?
Does pause before mere penetration
Refresh subaqueous romance?

Oyster orgies, clams in drag,
Fellation for consenting crabs;
How must the modest mussel feel
When buggered by an invert eel?

Imagination boggles at
The mollusk as a pornocrat.
(Or is this needless agitation
Brought on by simple mistranslation?)
In any case, we cannot claim
That man alone makes sex a game.
No limits to lubricity
Are set to sex beneath the sea;
Nor, if you really think it through,
Are mollusks better off than you.

All pleasures that are good per se
Are better yet some kinkier way:
Oysters Rockerfeller, moules in wine,
Clams in chowder- all divine!
Although, if one likes seafood well
One won't disdain it on the shell.

-Linda Nochlin, New York, Circa 1960

From Sex Magazine #7 Spring 2014
Labelled Poetry