Charles Rammelkamp

The Sex Nerve

After a series of cat-cows,
followed by downward dogs and cobra pose,
Kevin instructed us to do long deep breathing 
while we clutched our ankles,
bent over in butterfly pose.

“It’ll help loosen your lower back,
opens your hips, 
and works on what the yogis call
the sex nerve,” he informed us.

The sex nerve? He made it sound mysterious,
an ancient Vedic rite only for the initiated.
The Land of Lingam and Yoni.

“Interlace your hands under your pinky toes,”
he went on, “Elongate and straighten your spine.”
But I was still stuck on “the sex nerve.”
What the hell was it?
What did it do?
I thought of the Kama sutra,
those acrobatic sex poses,
the promise of endless orgasms.
I looked over at Melanie, pulling herself down
so her head nestled on her knees.
What exactly was her sex nerve up to now?

But then Kevin had us back on our feet,
arms aimed front and back in a T, 
front knee bent in Warrior II, 
followed by Triangle pose.

Later I’d look it up, 
but all I got was scientific jive
about the pudendal nerve, the pelvic nerves,
the hypogastric nerve (thoracolumbar sympathetic),
components of the autonomic system.

Willie Smith

Closet Entrance

Best pep rally I never went to,
I stood the nearly-nude 
editor of the lit mag against the wall; 
falling one silly millimeter shy 
of broaching her vulva; 
before an abrupt knock at the door 
ended the festivities. The editor 
flipped on the light; hustled into her dress. 
I snatched pants up from ankles; buckled, zipped. 
We tossed the editor’s slip and panties 
into a sack intended for uncollated pages 
to the spring issue. She opened the door 
on Mrs. Forget-Who, a social studies teacher 
in search of scratch, knew the kingsize 
walk-in closet that did for the lit mag office 
often stored misprinted pages 
teachers were welcome to take for scratch. 
I let the editor do the talking; and fast she talked, 
explaining, above the odors of live teenage sex, 
we were in the midst of an argument
about a poem when came the knock, 
and we hurriedly tidied the mess created 
when she had earlier thrown a pile of issues at me 
to, uh, demonstrate the correctness of her opinion. 
She was, after all, the editor; me? Oh, 
a potential contributor. Pep rally? 
Oh, yes, the rally for the big game tonight, 
of course; honestly, just slipped our minds. Poetry 
demands inordinate amounts of unmitigated focus. 
She got off with the English teacher sponsor of the lit mag 
admonishing her to pay closer attention to school-approved 
non-literary activities. I got off invisibly; 
as a potential contributor, someone obviously 
insignificant and not going anywhere in life, 
I failed to be worth wasting hot air on. 
I date – astonished at the editor’s creativity under fire – 
from that bang on the door forward,  
my fascination with poetry and the literary arts. 
My subsequent anonymous contribution 
(loath to cloud the editor’s eye 
with an affair of the heart) was, 
of course, rejected.  

J.J. Campbell

that must be the gin talking

and here comes the spanish princess

she kisses you on the cheek and 
whispers how you have become
the world’s biggest asshole

you laugh and think that must
be the gin talking

you never remember that the story 
books of your childhood never 
had a happy ending

there was no royal ride into some 
beautiful sunset with the love 
of your life

there was always a bottle of scotch

a pretty lady you have mistaken as 
a hooker and some beauty in the 
corner with eyes that will haunt 
you until well after your death

she is nothing but trouble so, 
of course, she has to be yours

heartbreak is the dull side of the knife

eventually the scars become so damn 
numb to the pain that you no longer 
understand what pain actually is

and eventually

that sociopath gets to come out 
and be comfortable

unaware of any damage or any 
amount of hurt that persists

endless

just like love

Nadja Moore

Today

I hated today.
Today was a gnawing cloud
spreading its legs on the table
with its shoes on.
A dull headache.
A burning sensation in the eyeballs
when exposed to the light.
An angry outburst when the tampon
isn’t expelled from the tube.
It was the Hulk if the Hulk
was on his period.

Still.

Everybody else does it.

I can too.

Just not before damning the happy couple
tonguing each other on the park bench first.

Joseph Farley

Ten and a Half

Your body could not
be put on a pedestal,
but it could be
wrapped in leather
and chains,
or robed in silk
or scented with oils
or ridden in style
on a boat on the Nile.

Your great gift
was just to be you.
Lovers would come
and preen best they could.
All they hoped
was what you knew.
You had it baby,
and knew what to do
to make men beg
and slither and crawl,
and when you did,
they loved you best of all.

G. Arthur Brown

A sex poem

You get me as hard as poetry
Not that poetry gives me an erection
But poetry is difficult
That’s a play on words I think

I get you all wet like a washed-up comedian
Except, one that’s all dirty
I read an article about yeast infections
So I’ll try to remember to wash my hands

One guy I know ate buffalo wings and then fingered his girlfriend
It was not a relationship-building experience
The best relationship I was in was probably still a nightmare for most people
The sex was good but you wouldn’t make a movie about it
If you did make a movie about it it would be an awkward indie film
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman
As a rich grandmother in a Catholic dystopia

But I digress

I want to fuck you, so bad
The sex would not be bad but the desire is
The sex would not be bad the third time, I mean
The first two might be fumbling and unfulfilling
If you judge me based on the first or second time that we fuck then fuck you
It’s the third time that clinches the thing
If the third time’s bad then that’s real
That would be a mistake
Like the third time I fucked your mom
The first two could be chalked up to being drunk
The third time I hadn’t even sipped a beer
I’d rather fuck you than your mom
I’m sorry

We played Dungeons & Dragons too, me and your mom
She would literally be perfect if the sex worked
And she wasn’t hooked up to that machine

You are like the perfect version of your mom
No machine
You can learn D&D
Let’s find out if the sex works

Yeah, I know I’m old enough to be your father
But I like to think of myself as your dad’s cool friend
And yes, I did fuck your mom about twenty-two years ago
But I’ll take a paternity test, I’m not scared
You know your dad
He’s an asshole
He did not want me fucking your mom
Not even once let alone three times
Forget about that loser
I’m not him

Come on already
Let’s fuck

Paul Lee

WHEN THEY BLED

The light turned red, halting the Volkswagen beside a laundromat. Nighttime clouds were ripping open. Rain parachuted to the tar sandwiched between rows of brick buildings. Lightning flashed, illuminating a wooden statue of a bear standing outside the entryway. The sculpture wore a yellow painted-on raincoat and held an umbrella made of the same oak. 

“The beautification commission is working hard,” Mickey Dou joked. “Cubs at the ballpark, bears holding diplomas at high school, bears lifting coffins at the funeral home. They’re all over town.” 

The light turned green; the Beetle rumbled along Main Street. “We’re almost there.” Mickey turned left, the sharpness of the turn almost causing him to swallow his gum—something he swallowed easier than his pride. 

His vehicle ascended, circled, dipped. Pavement yielded to gravel. Houses became sparse, roads narrow. 

Blair Chambers brushed her blonde shoulder-length hair, shaping it for the mask. “I thought you said we were close.” 

Mickey looked at the time on the clock. “We’ll be there in thirty seconds” 

“You’re sure they aren’t home?” 

Twenty-four-year-old Lance Faust lowered his face to hide the disgust written in its crinkles. Mickey, however, caught a glimpse before the expression retracted into darkness. 

“Hey, kid,” he started, “you signed up to join. We’ve fed you, given you shelter.” He sighed and shook his head. “If you bail on us now, we’ll kill you.” 

“He already knows,” Blair said matter-of-factly. She winked in the passenger’s side mirror. Mickey also peered into the boy’s reflection on his side, for a second, then returned his focus to the road. A second was long enough to see the wickedness flicker in his eye like the warming of a demonic crucible. 

Lance’s expression became nonexistent. He had learned to hide emotions. 

“We only accepted you because of your medical knowledge.”

Lance had completed a bachelor’s degree in premed Biology and had been attending a nursing school when he was arrested and barred from medical practice after stealing pain medicine. Now he was sober but living as a criminal. 

The vehicle pulled into the vacant driveway leading to the two-story cabin belted by woodland. 

Finally, Mickey answered Lance’s question. “We know nobody’s home because the spy nerd has done his spying.” When the overweight forty-year-old Dave Kunt wasn’t gobbling hamburgers in his mother’s basement, he was flying drones, setting up spyware, and reporting his findings to Mickey.  

“His balls are too little to come with us,” Mickey continued. “Lucky for us, the extra mass went to his brain.” 

Everybody laughed. Even Lance. (Levity, he had learned, made the tragic more bearable because it slowed the growth of insanity that bloomed from tragedy’s seed.) He slipped on his mask and backpack as they exited the Volkswagen. 

They approached the front door. 

“Don’t be worried about the lights,” Mickey said. “The owners left them on when they went on their month-long vacation.” 

“Dave learns a lot,” Blair said. 

Mickey started picking the lock. “That’s his job. And he disabled the security system.” 

The door opened to a spacious living room. To the left, the staircase ran to the second story. The living room opened to the kitchen, where a fifth of whiskey set on a cherrywood countertop. A table against the wall harbored a jar of honey. Mickey put both items into Lance’s backpack.

All three searched the downstairs. 

“Not much here,” Mickey said. “Bedrooms must be upstairs.” 

“Usually they are,” Blair said sarcastically under her breath. 

She and Lance followed their ringleader upstairs. Three unpainted doors stood in the corridor. 

“Watch,” Mickey said. “They’ll all be bedrooms.”

Blair asked, “This is more boring than that one time, huh, babe?” 

“Maybe a little.” 

“Maybe a lot. The way you sliced open that guy’s chest looking for his heart while he was alive. And how you sliced off his wife’s nose.” Lance’s stomach churned. That day would never be forgotten. It had been the day he realized, yes, hell was real, and its location was Earth. Yes, demons were real, and they lived inside Blair and Mickey. 

She said, “My favorite part was when we fucked beside their corpses.” 

He removed her mask, then stroked her hair. “I can fuck you here, too.” 

“Not as exciting.” She smirked. 

“It’s always exciting when I’m a three-hole golfer.” He slapped her ass, bit her lip. 

Her tone was sensual. “We’ve got all night to finish the hunt. Where you wanna do me?” 

Leaning into her ear, he answered, “Let’s find the biggest bedroom,” then nibbled the lope. She moaned as he twisted the knob. The bedroom was missing the bed. The second door opened, revealing the same situation. 

Taking Blair’s hand, he kicked open the door at the end of the corridor. The knob slammed into the wall, chipping wood. Two twins, a queen-sized bed, and a king-sized bed lined the front of the fireplace. 

Mickey, pointing at each bed, wisecracked, “Little Bear’s bed, Little Bear II’s bed, Mama Bear’s bed, and Papa—” The sentence broke when the downstairs side door opened. Blair and Mickey heard the creak. But only Lance glimpsed the mindboggling sight. 

Boots thudded, and then Lance Faust saw elephantine legs blanketed in thick black fur. In fact, all seven-foot of the body was furry. A ripped black leather hat set askew on the head. A shotgun rested in the arms.

Lance completed the broken sentence in his mind: Papa Bear’s bed. Although he didn’t see the face. He refused to look. Flight or fight instinct drum rolled. Lance darted down the steps, and out the front door. 

Mickey stared at the black bear walking on two legs, a shotgun in its paws, a smirk on its mouth. 

His heart jumped to his throat. He reached for his pistol. Papa Bear fired first. Buckshot dispersed, a pebble penetrating woodwork inches from Mickey’s face. He crashed through the second room, knocking over a dead beehive, shaky hands unlocking the window. 

He skedaddled down the lattice. 

A sudden shatter resounded from the backroom as Mama Bear crashed through the panoramic window. She stepped over triangles of broken glass. Her face was painted in makeup and a wooden purse dangled by her side. 

Lance raced for the road. But heavy footfall drove him under the porch. An adolescent bear garmented in a yellow raincoat appeared, carrying an umbrella identical to the one on the statue at the laundromat. But now the rain-shield was held level and pointed forward. Dizziness tickled Lance’s consciousness. Panicky breathing dried his quivering throat. The young bear lackadaisically skipped behind a wall of shrubbery on the left. Crawling out, Lance ran in the opposite direction. 

The backyard sloped toward a rocky edge which dropped 300 feet onto a lower floor of mountain. Stealthy but jittery, he traversed to where large tires leaned against a shed. He hid behind them. Blair started screaming. The cacophony electrified his nerves. Behind him, venomous snakes flicked their fork tongues. Their eyes were dim. They shared his fear. 

Whimpers and cries originating under the back porch warped the air. He searched for their origin point. 

Terror reigned upstairs. The bears had spoken no English but had seemingly heard Mickey’s libido-driven comment about golfing. Mama Bear and Papa Bear subdued Blair: her back was propped against the wall with her bottom half laying on the floor. Streams of tears coursed the red barren fields of her face. 

The bear in the yellow raincoat opened the bedroom closet. She removed a golf ball and a driver (much longer than the “club” in Mickey’s pants). Standing in front of Blair, she dropped the ball to the floor. Papa Bear gave her a thumbs up. 

Smiling, she swung the driver. It connected with the ball, which hit Blair’s chest. She coughed and cried. 

Papa Bear rolled the ball back to his daughter. The teen hesitated, taking time to study the target. Sweet innocence blessed the girl’s face, and Blair found this fact as disturbing as everything else. She decided to trade the club for her umbrella.

The paws tightened around the handle. The umbrella swung back and forward. Then its curved but thick handle connected as the airborne ball whistled like steam released from a pressure cooker. 

Blair was shrieking when the golf ball hit the “O” her mouth was making. The impact shattered her teeth. A fountain of blood poured forth. 

Again and again, the ball hit Blair, whose face began resembling a busted tomato bandaged in human skin. She was alive, but her voice had entered death’s silent gates. 

Lance crept to the back porch. A cub lay sprawled in a pile of last fall’s leaves, trembling. It wore a blue ballcap and blue and white striped shorts. He recognized the cub as a statue at the local baseball field. Blood caked the fur on its leg, which was caught in a bear trap. The cub’s cries amplified. 

“You’ll be okay,” Lance consoled. 

Cautiously but decidedly, he patted the cub’s trapped leg. The little bear jerked.

“Stay still,” Lance advised.

He used a mini flashlight (the moon serving as a secondary auxiliary) to assess the trap. The steel jaws hadn’t bitten too deeply. Lance managed to push downward on the springs, subsequently opening the clamps. The leg slipped to freedom. (Little Bear’s ankle was thick for a cub. Or else the injury would have been worse.)

After fetching a medical kit from his backpack, Lance made a torniquet amid periodic peeks around the corner. Where is the bear in the raincoat? Where is Papa Bear? Where is Mickey? Blair? She probably died with her screams. 

“I have to go, little guy, but you’ll feel better soon.”

The cub sat up and patted Lance’s leg. 

Lance asked, “Do you know why they want to kill us?” 

Little Bear removed a photo from his pocket. A pile of slaughtered bears was next to hewed oak trees. Woodcutters sat drinking beers on a container stenciled with the company name Carters Forestry. A revelation cleared the mental fog clouding Lance’s mind: woodcutters had massacred a colony of real bears while stealing oak to sculpt fakes. And now the fakes were real.

Real and angry. 

Mickey zigzagged to the backyard. He brandished his pistol and pounded his now-shirtless chest. Lance, still hidden with the cub, watched the madman go madder. He leaped, ran circles, and fired his widow maker at the moon. 

“Come get me you stupid bears! I’m HERE!” 

Papa Bear stomped to the backyard. Roaring and embracing the shotgun, he gained speed. Mickey fired but missed. 

He fired again; he missed again.

Papa was not slowing.

The third bullet grazed flesh. The beast released an earsplitting roar, charged, and finally pulled the trigger. 

Shell fragments pierced the air, two stopping in Mickey’s femur. He fell backward and his screams grew louder as Papa Bear drew near, boots shaking the earth. Little Bear watched indifferently. 

Mickey tried spider-crawling away. But the bleeding leg refused to cooperate. The best he managed was a snail-like drag. 

Mama Bear and her yellow-coated daughter came from the left side of the house. Mama Bear shook a claw at Mickey. 

Her paws were dripping Blair’s blood.

Papa Bear loomed over him. Mickey shut his eyes—this is only a dream, only a dream—but once they peeled back Papa Bear’s face was an inch from his own. The grin on the beast seemed to say: No. This is reality

Terror froze the burglar’s vocal cords until Papa Bear yanked the ring out of his ear. Pain unleashed screams that became a cacophonical train cutting through terror-capped ice in the tunnel of his throat. A large boot smashed his hand. Bones cracked; fingernails oozed blood.

Lance was the opposite to his kidnappers, who had sheltered him to use him. He hated violence; they bathed in it. But now a sadistic smile lit his face. They slowly had hoodwinked Lance into tagging along to a strange house and helping with their theft, never telling him that the crazed lovers would torture and kill the owners. Later, Lance begged them to let him start a life away from them. Mickey held a pistol to the boy’s temple and told him that he would kill him more brutally than all the rest if he ever left. 

Now the tyrant had fallen. 

Papa Bear whistled. Little Bear attempted to stand. 

“It’s best to stay put,” Lance said. 

The cub didn’t listen. 

He was halfway upright when he lost balance. His paws caught Lance’s shoulder, accidentally scraping skin. “Ouch,” he said, his jerking feet stirring leaves. 

Papa Bear squinted, sniffed. His head rocked side to side. A second later, he spotted Little Bear and the human. His roar shook birds out of 100 tree canopies as he charged, shotgun in paws. Lance contemplated running, but there was no escape. The other bears were here, and the one charging him was death incarnated as 1,000 pounds of furry fury. 

The cub extended an arm in a gesture to halt. With his other hand, he pointed at his treated wound. 

Papa Bear stopped. He understood. Lance’s and Papa Bear’s eyes collided. The big bear no longer grinned. His lips straightened and his head nodded in acknowledgement. 

He stumped to one knee and clapped his paws. The cub, helped by a hesitant Lance, limped into the dying moonlight. After he and his father embraced, they worked on the ringleader. Mickey screamed continually until Mama Bear ripped out his tongue. 

Lance’s fear dwindled enough to join the scene. Papa Bear patted his back. The colossal paw shivered his spin. But it resonated more warmth than he had ever known from the psychopathic burglars. 

Papa Bear used Mickey’s good leg to demonstrate how to break a femur. As the bone cracked, a piece of skeletal matter poked out of his leg, the agony rendering Mickey unconscious. The cub worked at the other leg, merely breaking the ankle. 

Papa broke the femur, then dragged the burglar to the front of the house. Lance followed. 

They walked onto a platform harboring a firepit, a six-foot-long grill, and rocking chairs. Papa Bear threw Mickey onto the grill. Mama Bear placed a metal cap over the waking body. The red-gold cover had diamond shaped perforations useful for watching skin melt. 

Lance turned to Papa Bear. “I have something that might belong to you. The others took it.” He retrieved the jar of honey from his backpack. The bear gladly grabbed it. 

The whiskey bottle had been under the honey. Lance noticed that the label read, Honey Whiskey. He placed it in the paw. “And this.” 

Papa Bear took the bottle. Then he poured the jar of honey onto Mickey and cranked the heat. 

Mama Bear and Papa Bear sipped honey-flavored whiskey as they watched flames lick skin off a face that screamed blood. Finally, Lance watched the devilish flicker in his master’s eye melt to goo. 

The meat was still cooking when Papa Bear and his children walked Lance deep into the forest. 

Ahead, lights tore holes in darkness. Lance was ushered forward. 

Candles burned inside treehouses belting every tree. Bears—wearing various colors painted on after their sculpting—stepped onto balconies, which were decorated in beehives, to see the newest arrivals. Lance gazed up in wonder. 

Bears waved welcoming paws. 

The four arrivals entered the largest treehouse in the land.  

Papa Bear opened the door to a room where a 30-foot-long wall held boards tattooed in names and birthdates. 

The names etched into the boards represented a variety of regions. In addition, birthdates included the young, the middle aged, and the old. Statues of bears had been sculpted throughout the nation, leading to the destruction of ecosystems and to the deaths of real furry critters. All hope seemed lost until they gathered and built this paradise.

Papa Bear pecked the northern window, out of which Lance had not looked. Happy-faced humans were mingling and playing games in a clearing. They had been outcasts in the normal world. All had been beaten, oppressed, or enslaved. But in this land of bears they were appreciated. Wooden and biological bears had experienced similar mistreatment at the hands of industrial society. They understood the misunderstood.

Lance etched his name and birthdate into a partially blank board. After that, he joined the fun in the clearing. 

People disturbed various things, including animals. Some things remained undisturbed, never given attention, enveloped in oblivion. Sometimes people suffered such a fate. There were times when wooden statues were the sufferers. And nobody cared. Nothing changed…except for when they bled.                     

Matt Micheli

Fuck City Girls

I remember that summer like it was yesterday or even today. It was smoldering hot, hotter than it had been in years, hot enough to get into the record books and have the weathermen toss the terms “hottest day” and “record highs” around loosely and frequently. That was the summer I graduated high school and made up my mind that attending college at-least-a-city away from here was best. I broke it off with my high-school sweetheart—she cried, I didn’t—packed up, said my goodbyes, and I was on my way. I was leaving it all behind, everything, every one, the only world I had ever known to venture into the exciting unknown. 

I got settled into my dorm, unpacking what little I brought with me. I met my new roommate who seemed weird and just left his boxes on his bed unopened. Later that night, the boxes were still there. The next morning they remained, untouched. I wonder if I’d ever see him again. 

This new world known as college-in-the-city was definitely different from what I was used to. Back home was a small town of only several thousand where the Dairy Queen was the coolest spot to hang out after school and the local grocery store was the primary place of employment. The people in the city… It was somewhat refreshing to meet people that weren’t cheerleaders or football players and who weren’t white. The party scene was unbelievable with more booze, drugs, techno, and young women throwing their inner selves at you (that’s putting it lightly) than I could’ve ever imagined—bass thumping, girls dancing, everyone high on something. These were real parties, not like the little high-school get-togethers involving a keg and a few bottles of Boones Farms.

I remember meeting her. She was cute and so were her friends. Their clothes were straight out of the punk scene from the 80’s—torn fishnet stockings, lots of lime green and fluorescents, combat boots—ugly, but hip. Sexy. She was so free-spirited. They all were, laughing and smoking and dancing around in public, not giving a fuck about what anyone thought of them. And her eyes… She didn’t look at you. She looked in you. I had never met anyone like her. All the girls back home came from the same republican-conservative-cheerleader factory. They were all beautiful, but in that small town look-like-all-their-friends sort of way, like they were molded from perfection—blonde, tone, perfect teeth, clean clothes. Not her. Not by a long shot. She was different and as far from the perfect I knew as you could get. And this difference drew me in like a fucking magnet. 

Before I knew it, I was smitten over her, and she appeared to be smitten over me. And the sex… it was wetter and wilder than any world I had been to. Sex with her felt like freedom. Or maybe that was just the drugs that made it seem that way.

She and I had been hanging out for a couple weeks, and that day, we went to the mall. I remember how hot it was, and how I couldn’t remember a day ever feeling this hot back home. We goofed around. She was so playful. She’d hit me and slapped my ass, and I’d slapped hers. She grabbed my crotch in front of everyone which was kind of embarrassing but also exciting. We laughed and laughed about anything and anyone unfortunate enough to cross our field of vision: fat people, Asians, want-to-be punkers, the old guy with basketball calves and tall socks. I remember her flicking her lit cigarette on the ground after being told that there was no smoking allowed. That was right after she took a long, slow puff, staring dead-on at the security guard, and blew the smoke in his face. I was stunned. That was probably the coolest thing I had ever seen. The look on the guard’s face was priceless: angry, but too shocked to react, a look of total disbelief, or maybe disgust.

Later on, we walked past one of those sunglass places, and there were these big fluorescent green Wayfarers. She grabbed them and put them on and posed in the mirror and posed some more—turned this way and then that way—and at that point, she had drawn a couple other admiring fans. 

“Those are awesome,” I said to her. 

“I want them,” she said. 

I bought them for her, despite never spending that much money on anyone or myself ever before. 

After that, we had some ice-cream in the food court and then went and met some of her friends at an outdoor downtown café. It was in the heat of the day, and it must have been one-hundred degrees out there, but no one except me seemed to care that our own sweat was dripping into our drinks and our food. We sat around in this God-awful heat, sweating profusely, while they discussed bands I’d never heard of, and she showed off her new expensive shades. Her friends loved them. I felt good about buying them, but wondered if I was going to overdraft my account, and then figured, fuck it. She’s worth it. She’s that girl you only dream about but never meet in real life. 

That night, we got drunk and went to some party, and despite it being almost midnight, she never took the shades off. She started making out with one of her friends whom she kept saying was hot, and I kept agreeing. She pulled me and this other girl back to a dark room in the back of this house we were in, and before I knew it, someone’s mouth was on my dick and someone else’s on my mouth. Then I was fucking one of them and both were moaning. It was too dark to see anything. I could only imagine what was going on. But whatever was going on, it felt amazing and like there were a hundred hands and wet mouths on my body. 

After I don’t know how long, I heard the door open. Light crept in from the hallway. The door shut, and I lie there in the dark, my body drenched and becoming one with the bed. I wondered where she and the other chick had gone. I got myself up, stumbled around, found my clothes on the floor, and decided to go find them. I never did. 

A couple weeks or so went by, and I hadn’t seen her again until I ran into her at a party on east campus. She was with someone else. She didn’t have on those expensive green Wayfarers I bought her but some light blue ones. This guy she was with looked like a total loser, but I didn’t care. I was with someone else, also, and this new girl I was with seemed an exact replica of the old one, but only better, like she had been manufactured in the same democratic-liberal-hates-jocks-loves-punk bands factory—equally free spirited if not more and loved life just the same if not more. And our sex… it was also out of this world. Or maybe it just seemed that way because of the drugs. Or maybe, that’s just how it was with girls from the city—wild, wet, uninhibited, dirtier, different, better. 

Despite me loving the girls here in the city, and how they so eagerly threw their inner selves at me, I got tired of that whole party scene I had become a part of. And the buildings and streets and cars made it seem hotter and more miserable than how I remember it ever being back home. I remember standing outside several hours after the sun had gone down, the salt from my sweat burning my eyes, and thinking to myself that this is no way to live. 

I dropped out of the school I wasn’t attending anyway and moved back home within the following week. It was hot, but not as dreadfully hot as it was in the city. I was horny, so I asked my ex to give me another chance. She did almost too easily. I remember walking into her parent’s big house—they were out of town—and up the stairs where she was waiting. I opened the door to her bedroom. She was propped up on her bed on full display like a gift wrapped in red lingerie I hadn’t seen before, and she seemed cleaner and shinier than what I remembered. I made my way into her perfect room, surrounded by the stuffed animals she had since she was a little girl, and her perfect self was on that perfect bed, enticing me. I walked over to her. My dick was hard. I started kissing her. She said that she missed me. I continued kissing her. She asked if I had been with anyone else. I told her “No,” and then thought about the girls from the city and their free-spiritedness and their wild bedroom antics and the threesome I had and said again, “No.” I continued kissing her neck and slid her red bra down and kissed on her breasts. She smelled and tasted freshly-bathed—like edible soap mixed with Happy perfume—which was refreshing. I gently pushed her back onto her fluffy white bed and climbed up over the top of her. After a minute or so, our roles reversed, she was on top of me, kissing my chest. I looked at her kissing my body with those innocent, crystal eyes peeking up from time to time, really trying to be naughty, and wondered how or why I ever left. But then I noticed this picture of her and her cheerleader friends on her nightstand. As good as her warm mouth felt getting lower and lower, I was fixated on this picture. As clear as the picture was, I couldn’t tell her from her friends. They were all blonde, tone, had perfect teeth, looked like the picture was stolen from an Abercrombie and Fitch. They all looked perfect. And when everyone is perfect, then everyone is the same. And being the same is only . . . ordinary. I remember the way she smelled and the way her hot breath felt on my chest and then on my stomach which sent pulses of electricity throughout my body. She unzipped my pants and worked them below my knees and kept kissing my stomach, slowly working her way down, one soft nibble at a time. She grabbed my dick and then looked back up at me and asked me again if I had been with anyone else. Then she said she had too much respect for herself to allow herself to have sex with me if I had been. I assured her that no, I hadn’t. I then thought about the way those city girls smelled and tasted, and it was different. 

She started kissing me again and slowly—even slower than before—inched her way closer to my dick one kiss at a time. It tickled. I remember when she stopped. I lie there for a second thinking, What the fuck? before looking up. Those crystal eyes were staring back at me, and I smiled and said, “What baby?” 

She didn’t smile back but more scowled, her eyebrows pulling to the center of her face. Her eyes went from mine back to my dick. She moved it to the side and leaned in closer to examine something. 

“What?” I asked. 

That’s when she leapt off me. She paced frantically back and forth, back and forth, shaking her head and looking into some distant land before calling me a liar and cursing which was not of her typical character. She told me to get the fuck out. I remember asking what, again and again and again, and her just repeating the words “Liar,” and “Get out,” and “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

I left her that day in all her perfection, in her perfect room in her big white perfect house, and I remember thinking that she will someday make some preppy politician type very happy.

On the way home, my dick started to itch. I scratched it, but that only seemed to make it worse. It soon turned from an itching to a slight burning. I remember that night, seeing the small, red bumps and trying to pop them, but Goddamn, it hurt. 

The next day, my parents asked me where I was going, and I lied and said, “To a friends.” I remember thinking about the girls from the city and the threesome and thinking that not any of us, in all of it, even as much as mentioned protection, and shaking my head in disappointment of myself. Fuck.

I pulled into the doctor’s parking lot, and embarrassingly sat in that lobby for what seemed like an eternity. I remember the doctor coming out, and of course she had to be female, which made my situation even worse. She asked me how many partners I’d had in the past three months and if we wore protection. I wanted to say only one, and yes, but I said, “Three or maybe four” and “No.” She put on latex gloves and examined whatever those fucking little bumps-turned-blisters were that had gone from itching to burning like angry wasps. With a tone that was too straight and calming, she said I was now one out of four young adults, and that there were treatment options to keep the outbreaks from flaring up. She also said I would need to let any of my partners know to get checked. She nonchalantly suggested she take some blood for testing, saying that one STD could lead to another and threw out some statistics I can’t quite recall. My stomach dropped out of me. 

I remember that girl from the city in all of her free spiritedness trying on those green Wayfarers and the other guys checking her out while she tried them on and her loving the attention. There was the threesome and then the other girl I started fucking from the city whom I almost couldn’t tell apart from the first. All the girls in the city were so imperfect, they were the same. And when everyone is the same, then everyone becomes . . . ordinary. I remember thinking that I wanted the fucking money back for those shades.

The doctor put on a new set of gloves and told me that what she was about to do was going to hurt a little, but it needed to be done. She squeezed on the blisters. They popped. My eyes went black. I had never felt anything so fucking venomously painful in my existence. Fortunately the paralyzing stinging of the popping blisters only lasted a few moments which was long enough.  

Leaving the doctor’s office that day, it was hot out, but not nearly as miserably hot as it was in the city. I was glad to be home. 

Daniel S. Irwin

International Lust

I had no idea what
She was talking about.
It works that way when
You don’t speak her language
And she doesn’t speak yours.
But she’s just mesmerizing
To watch, enchanting.
I smile when she smiles,
Scowl when she frowns.
Do a pensive head tilt
When it seems called upon.
I really only longed for
A chance at that body.
Her voluptuous shape
Demanded my attention.
We’re leaving the bar,
Presumably for her place.
I still had no idea what
She was going on about.
I just hoped she wasn’t
Talking about surprises
Like us comparing dicks.

Jon Bennett

Spongemaster 

I’d rather lick the dog crap 
off your shoe 
than wait in line for brunch 
I’d savor it, too, 
the pulverized bits of chicken bone 
the re-digested cat poop 
knowing I’ve avoided 
that line around the block! 
But, as a busboy, 
I have a unique perspective 
I’m also a foodie 
but instead of pancakes 
I’m a connoisseur of the bodega watermelon 
I spend all my extra money on them 
“Better not be mushy!!!” 
“Claro! New crop today!” 
They puzzle over me, 
the man in dirty chef pants 
spending $100s on melons 
(My secret is to forego toilet paper 
How? I use a sponge instead, 
I rinse it twice, trés francais!) 
In my tiny hotel room 
I’ll cleave one down the middle 
and devour its very heart 
the juice dribbling down my chin 
I love a good liquor store watermelon 
and I love there is never  
a line to get one, 
no cackling, selfie taking 
waffle wafflers, “I’ll do 
the million dollar bacon!” 
Though that’s not to say 
I don’t take my job seriously 
I’m an excellent busboy 
if I do say so myself 
“Look at him!” they gush,  
“the work ethic!!! Why, 
he even brings 
his own sponge!”