Joe Surkiewicz

Let’s Play Doctor

“Okay, I’ll be the patient.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Why do you—?”

“I misspoke. What are your symptoms?”

“Sorry, doctor. I have this burning sensation.”

“I’ll need more information.”

“I was going to tell you. It’s like a flickering flame surrounded by gauze.”


“Achy gauze.”

“A flickering flame surrounded by achy gauze. A big flame? Like the pasta burner on one of those expensive gas stoves?”

“More like a Bic lighter.”

“A half-teaspoon of bicarbonate—”

“Lower than that.”



“Hmm. This will require a physical examination.”


“Call my office and make an appointment.”

“I was hoping for something a little sooner.”

“If there’s a cancellation, I could squeeze—”

“Actually, this is feeling more urgent.”

“It’s not the sort of thing you want to go to the emergency room for. I could do a preliminary examination now. Remove your clothing.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“Here’s something right off the bat. Your breasts are really small.”

“I know.”

“At what age did you begin to develop?”


“And at what age did you reach full development?”


“Any sensitivity issues?”

“The right one is slightly more erotic.”

“May I?”


“I concur. The right nipple—”

“Perks right up.”

“Moving on, I’ll need you to lay back and spread your legs.”




“There’s another hole back there.”

“Back where?”

“You can’t see it. If this was a regular examination room, I’d have the equipment to show you.”

“Is it serious?”

“It’s going to require probing.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Not with the proper precautions.”

“First, do no harm.”


“It’s the Hippocratic Oath.”


“Never mind.”

“I’ll just take this glob of Vaseline—”

“No rubber glove?”

“Four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency and you’re giving me advice?”


“Here goes.”


“Feels normal. Your left nipple perked up, by the way.”

“Will your examination include any other openings down there?”

“Yes. But I don’t want to remove this probe just yet.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“Hmm. Two sets of lips.”

“I had no idea.”

“Yes, many women are astonishingly ill-informed.”

“Everything look okay?”

“So far so good. You’re opening up quite nicely.”

“That flame’s getting bigger.”

“This may require direct stimulation.”

“I tried that already.”


“Worked for a while, but it came back.”

“This may be more serious than I thought.”

“Is there any hope?”

“Possibly. But when you come in for your appointment I’ll need to probe some more with the appropriate equipment.”

“Is that a probe in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

“I could improvise.”

“I must warn you, doctor. I thrash around a lot.”

“Then you must be restrained. Sorry.”


“Rope would be best. Is that a four-poster in the bedroom?”

“No, but we could pretend.”

“What fun would that be?”

Daniel S. Irwin

Cool Sunglasses

Walking by the bus stop,
Spotted this dude sittin’ there
With these ultracool sunglasses.
Gotsta be a freak or a head.
I thrust one of my chapbooks
Into his hands. And tell him
That my book is full of vulgarities
But he wouldn’t go blind reading it.
He just said, “Smart ass!” And 
Struck me with his white cane.
Thank God he didn’t sic
That dog on me.

S. E. Lopez

How to Heal

Is there a right way?
Is there any way?
To heal from something that
haunts you every day?

I didn’t start grinding my teeth
until after it happened

Because that night
he didn’t just take my body,
he held my thoughts at gunpoint
He mentally overpowered me

I’m still his

Maybe it’s the Luke and Laura syndrome
He raped me, but my body liked it
He raped me, but I still crave it

And this is the truth
The horrible, awful truth
It’s another type of limbo
Another type of hell

If he only knew, what would he say?
Maybe he’d say, but you liked it
It was the best night of my life
And it was yours, too
Don’t deny it —
You wanted to be overpowered
You wanted to be taken
Don’t act all innocent

Maybe… maybe he’d confess:
I drugged you
But he wouldn’t blame
how wet I got on that

Maybe my body was just
trying to protect itself
That’s why I was so into it
Or maybe I was betrayed
by a sense of fight or flight
An urgency

I couldn’t fight,
so I flew into ecstasy
Naked and vulnerable
in his bed

He knew what he was doing
I have no idea
what happened that night
I can only go by what he said

I was never attracted to him
But my body said otherwise

You have to know,
I’m not happy about any of this

I’m broken
I feel broken
My body isn’t mine anymore
It’s his

It’ll always be his
because I can’t get over it
I can’t stop thinking about it

Do you know how awful that is?
I cry about it
I get wet again thinking about it
I want it again
I want him
I hate it

I shouldn’t be feeling this way,
but I do

It’s suicidal
And that will always be the difference
between me and you

Noel Negele

Work and Living in the UK

The shifts are 
twelve hour shifts
and a worker’s biggest daily struggle is,
as often is the case with repetitive jobs,
There is also exhaustion,
you are, after all
working for the better part of a day,
but you can fight exhaustion 
with a good meal and some courage.
Boredom is a different beast.
It requires you to dig deep.
It requires some philosophy.
You have to be okay with who 
you are to deal 
with it.

Sometimes the boredom
will become so grand 
you’ll fake a bathroom visit 
just so you steal away ten minutes 
of not being a cog 
in a machine you can’t know where it begins 
and where it ends—
the warehouse is so big.

And you’ll sprinkle some piss
and then wash your hands 
and then your face 
and then look at yourself in the mirror
and think:
“I didn’t know you to
be so lazy”.

It’s the repetition 
you see.
It will get anyone.
Anyone with a soul,
no matter how desperate.
I don’t care if you’re 
a single father with three daughters
and one of them is 
not all up there in her head,
and you have to make target everyday,
you’ll still visit those bathrooms
more than your bladder needs you to—
those bathrooms are always full.

And then there’s the demeaning moment of
waiting to clock out, finally.
All of you in a line, trying to respect
the social distancing rule
but doing a terrible job at trying,
some not even trying at all,
and some just staring at that last minute 
in the clock, ticking slowly towards
the end of our shifts.

And then, finally, a breath away from leaving,
you have to go through security 
because apparently, people steal,
it’s a warehouse after all
a monkey can do it.
Don’t expect to find the 
elite of Bucharest here.

And then, zoom out from work
and you have daily life
because you have to live too,
at least just a little.
And so the days
pass slithering from your life 
in bad and cold and wet weather—
obnoxious snow every other day,
in the kitchen over the stove
cooking or doing laundry 
shopping necessities,
taking up books again and weed
and getting an Amazon prime account 
because you have to have things
to look forward to.
Otherwise life just sucks.

You have to have some things.
Just some aggressive fucking 
and alcohol and a movie 
and a Macdonald’s meal every week
is not enough.

“We should fire some weapons”,
you tell her
panting still and sweaty on the bed,
“There’s a firing range close by 
we should check it out one of these days.”
Or maybe go to Scotland for the weekend.
Ride some horses. Learn new poets.
We could go skydiving, she says.
No, fuck that. I wouldn’t do it
if they paid me.

And then her hand 
is reaching for your dick
again and soon her lips follow
and you’re thinking about things
to look forward to,
and that you need more of them.

That this is like a silent but very loud
scream of fear.
To need more and more things to look forward
to. Like a fear of death.
A middle age crisis
on your late twenties.

You’re thinking 
you’ll never blow your nose
in public,
you are that self conscious.

You’re thinking that 
you’ve wished for your own death 
with a whole hearted honesty 
but how does one decisively 
jump in a pool of nothingness
without second guessing 
how to slip into an irreversible
and forever-going and amnesiac 
without looking back.

You’re thinking that it’s nightmarish 
to get stuck in a public bathroom 
and reaching for toilet paper
after a hopeless shit you couldn’t avoid
and not finding any.
What else would one do
but scream for help?

You’re thinking there’s
a broken spring in your bed
and it’s fucking with your back.
That it’s snowing outside
and that inside it’s nice and warm
and that she is nice and warm on you.
That lust is like rabies when it gets a hold of you,
and that there is a lot of mindless violence
out there and ruthless competition 
and that you have to be really careful
if you want to make it 
if you want the house and the car and the garage 
and the dog and your peace of mind—
none of it easy
you have to be weary of people 
most of them don’t want you in peace 
most people are polar bears feasting 
on guts and blood 
and that the modern poem has become 
more like the writer 
talking to himself 
rather than the writer 
that writes a letter with heart and dream and mind 
and puts it in an almost empty whiskey bottle
and then sets it on the waves and watches it go.

You are hot she says
touching your thigh with her lips,
meaning your temperature 
thank you, you say,
I work out and she laughs 
and says hotboxing a car
is called submarine in Bulgaria
and you laugh 
because you’re high and she plucks 
hair from your chest 
and she has an ear fetish 
and you don’t work tomorrow.


Previously published at The Beatnik Cowboy

Saira Viola

Coco Cola Eyes (Mise-en-scène)

Cinema-curled hair
Snake hips melodising the night’s starry mouth 
lizard platforms jive talking with leopard  silk pumps 
Moonflower shine-slap-rapping on white chiffon thighs 
He drank bourbon with a shot of milk 
had a Harvey Keitel lip swivel
Bull dog wrinkles –
liked African  panthers and Swedish porn in that order 
The hot shagging  rhythm of boom bap highs 
Quadraphonic-fever rush-infectious curves 
A flick knife ride on a funk  guitar 
She drank a dirty martini flaunting an 
open-bosom sparkle-shag bikini 
She had  coco cola eyes 
Hot  black fizz that mesmerised 
That same year  Barings bank collapsed  
after ‘rogue trader,’ Nick Leeson blew £ 1.4 billion playing 
high-stakes speculative games on the Tokyo Stock Exchange 
Riots broke out in London 
after the death of 26 year old Wayne Douglas 
And the shimmering horror of Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb 
was played out in real time 
Oklahoma city April 19th  1995 – the same day a zit popped kid 
folded the four corners of a fifty dollar bill and fell into a dirty secret 
He remembered watching her move like 
Wanted to touch lick taste feel 
The same year the Unabomber Manifesto
was published in The New York Times 
Disjointed moments a portrait of chaos 
His hotel had a Gideon bible MTV and cable sex flicks 
Caught sight of  a new world in those eyes 
Want is sharper than the thorn of a rose 
Tangled in a luckless mist  
He approached her 
Like a high wire tight rope walker 
Cherry ripe lips  
on the edge of one kiss 
Vicious  heart stomp 
High voltage lust 
Her voice cold as salamander skin 
Venom notes of rejection 
The same year 1995 – 
when a spider ate a fly.

John D Robinson

What’s So Fucking Funny

‘Look at the state of you! shameful!’
she said
I could see she was hurt
and about to cry
‘Don’t come near me or give me
any of your bullshit! I’ve had enough’
she told me
A few hours later we made love
and lay silently together
‘I love you’ I said
‘I know you do’ she said
and then I began laughing softly
‘What’s so fucking funny?’
she asked
‘Not much’ I said
‘You tell me, you love me,
and then laugh, how the fuck
am I supposed to feel
about that?’
she said
‘But you just said that
you know that I love you’
I said
‘I do, but why laugh about it?’
she said
‘I’d cry otherwise’
I said
‘Why?’ she asked
‘Because I lack any
Fucking imagination’
I said
She said nothing and
just nodded her head.

Timothy Resau

Motorcycle Madonna 

The girl rides through the September road shadows,
tanned and tattooed — blue cross on nude back—
Harley between muscled legs—
Body half covered in shiny black Spandex—
Today’s woman heading into tomorrow—
should I call her Venus?
Open road motorcycle lady, highway star,
lady of the hour, lady of this speeding moment.
Erotica in the street: so tres masculine/famine, n’est-ce pas?

Kristin Garth

Then She Was A Real Girl Because It Hurt

Nourishment is through your ceramic lips.
Pink nipple delivers various amounts 
of their potion composed of powders — bone mixed 
with dry milk.  Fuck dolls can’t taste it, spit it out 
pulverized skeleton, a draught of one 
of their own.  If you swallow its marrow,
lost pheromones, you grow vulnerable bones,
beneath this chipped anatomy (they threw
themselves onto without pity.) Shatter a
porcelain pelvis though you can’t even cry. 
Patching kintsugi cunt with gold mica 
will not bring a real tear to glass eyes.
Afters month of bone milk, you even grow skin.
Peeled porcelain punctures before they begin.

Lamont A. Turner


“As you know, I’ve always been invisible, and that’s how I like it. Maybe it was because my father worked at a nuclear facility. Maybe it was because my mother was a witch.  My back story doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve adapted quite well to my state of non-being, and have come to relish the privacy it provides. The problem is, I have compulsions, and when I have these compulsions, my blood becomes visible. My entire circulatory system can be seen and it remains visible until my desires are satisfied. That is why these compulsions cannot be resisted. I know I should have told you, but I’m sure you understand it’s a bit of an embarrassment.

“What are these compulsions, you ask? I wish it were something as simple as counting all the cracks in the sidewalk, or as mundane as knocking the hats off people I passed in the street. No, my veins and arteries will be visible to anyone in my proximity until I take a life. I have to kill. I discovered this almost by accident. The first time it happened, I was standing on a street corner reading a man’s text messages over his shoulder. He had been cheating on his wife, and it was quite maddening, seeing him speak disparagingly of his wife to his mistress. I wished him dead.  Suddenly, a child standing behind me shrieked. Then the woman whose hand she was holding shrieked. The adulterous husband turned around, and he shrieked too. I was perplexed as to the cause of all this shrieking until I looked down and saw my hands. They seemed to be composed of a multitude of red and blue threads, floating about in the breeze as I lifted my arm. The man came at me, fists raised, and in my panic I pushed him. He stumbled back into the street where he was dispatched by a school bus, his blood splattering on my calves as the bus carried the rest of him away. Instantly, I was invisible again. 

“I spent the next few years roaming about, working my job as a telemarketer by day and killing by night, my rage fueled by the sound of a thousand groggy voices suggesting I should go to hell. It wasn’t the ideal existence, but I was happy enough. Then came Robert Doverman, a private detective hired by the family of one of my victims.  He tracked me relentlessly, seeming to have no problem accepting that the man he pursued was invisible. Amazingly, he just took it for granted that such things were possible, making me wonder what kind of other cases he’d been working on. 

“He finally caught up to me last night. I was wearing the clothes I’d bought at the thrift store to cover my pulsating veins—I didn’t like spending a lot since I would be leaving the clothes behind once I was again invisible—when I came upon a man sitting alone on a park bench. I crept up behind him, ready to bash his head in with the hammer in my pocket, when I noticed he was unusually still. It was then I saw the cardboard tubes between the ends of his coat sleeves and the gloved hands taped to the newspaper. It was a trap! I started to tear off my clothes, figuring a mass of veins and arteries would make a less appealing target, when a bullet tore into my shoulder. Doverman was taking no chances. Another bullet whizzed past my head as I dashed off toward the woods at the end of the park, frantically working at the buttons of my shirt. 

“I got the shirt and pants off, but blood, visible blood, streamed out of my shoulder, painting my arm red. That would be a problem even if I could erase my circulatory system with another murder, but I couldn’t think about that. I had to concentrate on getting to the woods ahead of Doverman. In the dark, surrounded by the branches and vines, I might have a chance. Reaching the line of trees, I dove onto the ground and crawled off to the right, pausing to catch my breath behind an oak. Doverman came crashing into the woods a few seconds later running past me.  I knew it wouldn’t be long before he thought to backtrack and track me by the trail of blood.

“I remembered there was a stream that ran through a clearing often frequented by campers and I sprinted toward it, pressing hard against the hole in my shoulder with my right hand while my left arm dangled uselessly at my side. I was bleeding more now, from the shot wound as well as from the countless tears the branches had made in my flesh as I plowed through the brush. That stream was my only hope! 

“As I reached the clearing, I could see the light from a campfire.  There were only two of them, a teenage couple snuggling on a blanket before the fire.  If I had a knife, I could have slit their throats and become invisible again before they could make a sound. The hammer might have worked if I hadn’t dropped it back by the dummy on the bench. I looked around for a stout branch, but didn’t see anything heavy enough I could be certain would do the job with one quick blow to each of them. If I had to make more than one stroke killing the boy, the girl would certainly scream, bringing the detective down on me before I could reach the water. I would have to sneak past them. I crept to the far end of the clearing and dashed across, making it about halfway before stepping in a rut and falling on my face. I must have grunted when I hit because a second later the girl was screaming. In the glare of the fire it must have seemed like vines were sprouting from the earth to take the shape of a man as I rose. 

“Run!” I shouted, hoping they would make enough noise to confuse Doverman. Maybe he would end up chasing them instead. The girl seemed willing to obey, but the idiot boy took out his phone and held it up to record me. Can you believe it?”


“Kids today are morons,” said the voice on the other end of the phone.  

“Anyway, Andre that’s how I got the phone. I was so angry! I rushed at them and strangled the boy while the girl ran off.”

“The detective didn’t catch up to you?” asked Andre.

“Of course he did. He’s standing over me now. He was nice enough to let me call you to say goodbye. He’s really not a bad guy. Smokes too much though. He might have caught me sooner if he paid more attention to his health.”

“What’s he going to do with you?” 

“Nothing. I’m done. Bleeding out. Soon I’ll be invisible forever.”

“Can I speak to the detective?” Andre asked. The soon to be invisible man handed Doverman the phone.

“Yeah?” Doverman asked.

“What are you going to do with him?” Andre asked. “I assume you won’t just leave him there.”

“You’re his pal,” Doverman said. “You figure it out. Just be sure to come and get him soon. We can’t have invisible corpses stinking up public property.”

“That might be a problem,” Andre said. “In about an hour my bones will turn to jelly and I’ll be a shapeless blob for the next few days. It’s a condition I got from my father.”

Doverman hung up and headed back to his car for a shovel, cursing all the way.