Poem for Display Above the Urinals in a Men’s Restroom

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Public Poems


Eyes front, soldier.
The general looks hard for signs
of deviation.

Don’t show too much interest
even in this poem,
which is probably gay.

There were trees here once
where you stand relieving yourself
against a hollow trunk.

They would not have known
what to do
with so much saltpeter.

Note: Saltpeter, or potassium nitrate — a critical component of gunpowder — readily precipitates out of urine.

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11 Replies to “Poem for Display Above the Urinals in a Men’s Restroom”

  1. okay in england we say pissing ourselves for laughing, yes, really, weird colloquialism. But I am, right now. The first two stanzas are particularly wonderful.

  2. Hey, glad y’all liked this. It occurs to me that I probably couldn’t have done it without the internet, and the ability to pause in my writing and quickly research things such as the ingredients and properties of urea and make imaginative leaps while the poem is still fresh: saltpeter! Perfect, I said to myself, especially with the American spelling.

  3. Very funny, Dave.

    There follows a link to a hilarious Civil War Salt-petre poem which for some reason depended upon the women only to contribute.


    I am thinking also that maybe bat doodie was used in the gunpowder process. Updating the riff to the cold war, Do you remember General ‘Bat Guano’ from “Dr. Strangelove” .

  4. i was so excited when i read the title. hearing or reading about men’s urinal is like learning about a forbidden place for me ha. i loved the poem especially the second stanza. your poems are so unique.

  5. Joan – Great find! I’m guessing that the women were asked because the men were off fighting? I think you’re right about guano. I don’t remember Dr. Strangelove very well; I only saw it once, and at a poor angel angle with terrible sound.

    lissa – Happy to offer a glimpse behind the veil, but lemme tell ya, it’s nothing too special. There’s more graffiti in the stalls, of course, but writing in the cracks between the tiles above the urinals gets the most readers, I’m sure. I’ve never seen a poem there, though.

  6. I needn’t that laugh. Bless you.

    FWIW, I’ve a small bladder and only went for two stanzas, at probably gay I was relieved in full.

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