She asked to see down there
and I complied.
She wore a nurse’s uniform
but reminded me of my mother.
Down there can seem so far away.
Down there is another world.
When she inserted the tube
I thought I’d scream
I licked the tip of my nose
and sucked my lip.
I hid my face.
She held my cock like it was an
She saw the fear in my eyes
Hospitals turn us all into
little girls. There are no men
in the wards. Our cocks withdraw.
They loll and cringe like snails under attack.
It’s no time for heroics.
How much pee can there be?
Enough to fill the bag, doctor
says. She smiled when she
came in again, this time to remove
the tube. I bit the mattress.
Coming out proved more painful
than going in, possibly like a poison
arrow. I asked for a slug of whiskey
and emitted a deep sigh.
The hospital staff could have been Sioux
but sounded like Comanche. First,
they stripped me naked. Next, they brushed my body
with yellow dye. The medicine man cut me open.
He shoved long objects into my veins. He
asked me questions and demanded answers.
Finally, tawny braves carried me back. Squaws
applied salves and potions. When I woke,
the chief and the village council
stood at the foot of my bed to welcome me
back from the land of shadows.
One rarely sleeps in a lobby.
One is unlikely to head out
without one’s undershorts and pants.
Bottomless is strictly for the birds and little tots.
I had a good ten experts inspecting my crotch.
It left me a changed man.
It is odd to be reduced to flesh.
Nobody asks in a hospital what one thinks.
One is not in a knife fight; one hasn’t got a chance.
The incisions are terrifying. As the pins go in,
one becomes a specimen, a patient etherised
upon a table, a monarch butterfly.
Some keep their eyes open.
I closed mine.
Image courtesy of John Flannery
He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register. His plays have appeared recently in Lithuania, Estonia and Croatia, in translation. Poems can be found at Sentinel Literary Quarterly, FRiGG, Otoliths (Australia), and Cecile’s Writers (The Netherlands). In Ireland poems appear in The Stony Thursday Book (Limerick) and Hidden Channel Zine (Mall Sligo). Recent poems have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat) He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective in Houston. His recent fiction can be read in Brilliant Flash Fiction, Crack the Spine, and at inshadesmag.com. His book ‘The Other Is Oneself‘, a study of 20th century postcolonial literature, was published this year in Germany. He is currently writing a memoir of his years living in Saudi Arabia. He teaches in Tokyo.