by Jean-Luc Fontaine 

Ode to the Old Naked Man in the Gym Locker Room

Have you ever seen a throng of half-naked
….muscled men turn their heads in shame
like little boys during the nude scenes of an r-rated movie?
….I have, in a Planet Fitness locker room,
when a sweat-glazed old man decided to drop
….the towel draped around his naked frame
to the floor as he interrogated the contents of his locker.
….He stood there, leathery and micro-
waved, shrimp-pink creases forming under
….his breasts, and the ripped men, who just minutes before,
slaved away in the iron temple of testosterone
….—grunting and groaning, Gatorade-sticky,
hoisting weights above their heads like bright ideas—
….now fumbled with their protein shakes,
quietly spritzed their pits with body spray.
….And even I—the newest convert to the church
of crunches and curls—wanted to rush to the indoor rower,
….paddle away from the thought that my body
might one day look like an overripe banana.
….But even as my insecurities slipped into the room,
started sticking needles into the weather balloons
….of my biceps, I couldn’t help but admire
the old man’s shiny strut, the way he bared
….his body: unashamed of the graying clump
of kelp dangling from his chest, of his jump rope
….arms noodling by his side. And I swear for a second,
he looked like a king smiling at all his fearful subjects—
….the aluminum light crowning his head,
the blue veins under his skin pulsing like lightning bolts.

About the Author:

Jean-Luc Fontaine  is a Tucson based poet. He enjoys long naps and hot coffee.