It was a quiet morning in the urologist’s office, the only sounds the snoring of the other patient slumped in a chair on the other side of the waiting room, what seemed to be the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s cover version of “Strangers in the Night” leaking out of a speaker hidden behind a dusty potted shrub, and, I thought this was cruel, the trickling sound of water coming from an under-populated aquarium.
That was before the door creaked open and a burly man in his mid-fifties, wearing a tank top, shorts, a goatee, and a shaved head, lumbered in as if his tattoos were weighing him down or he was exhausted from having to get up fifteen times a night to pee. He rang the receptionist’s bell. I didn’t hear much of the conversation at first as I was watching an infomercial on erectile dysfunction on the television screen. The volume was turned off, but I gathered that with a particular medication, men could soon be holding hands with beautiful blonde women and petting tail-wagging Golden Retrievers.
Meanwhile, at the receptionist’s window, the volume had been turned way up. “What do you mean I need an appointment? There are only two fucking patients here,” the man said. He turned around to look at us—I assume that’s what he did but can’t be certain because my head was deep in my knapsack looking for a book—and apologized, “Nothing against you fuckers.”
I was going into fight or flight mode, which for me means flight mode. I wanted to get out of there before the SWAT team arrived. I was thinking of offering the guy my appointment. After all, I was feeling better and hadn’t had an urge to take a piss in twenty minutes. However, the receptionist defused the situation and told him to take a seat and she would talk to the doctor.
I was pretending to read my book, but since the other patient was still sleeping, the tank-topped guy came and sat by me. I scooted to the far side of my chair, about two inches, and turned a page. “What’re you reading?” the guy asked. “Oh, just some trashy novel about cheap sex.” “It’s upside down,” he said. “That’s how I like it.”
is a regular contributor to haiku, haibun, and tanka journals. His fiction, nonfiction,
and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Flash, Rattle, Modern Haiku,
KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, SurVision, Haibun Today, The Haibun
Journal, and Contemporary Haibun Online (the latter for which he served
as content editor from July 2014 thru January 2020).
His chapbook of haibun, tanka prose, and prose poems, Ethiopian Time (Red Bird
Chapbooks, 2014), was an honorable mention in the Touchstone Book Awards. His chapbook
Conversation Starters in a Language No One Speaks (SurVision Books, 2018) was
a winner of the James Tate Poetry Prize in 2018. He is also the author most recently
of a collection of prose poems, haibun, and senryu, My Thology: Not Always True
But Always Truth (Cyberwit, 2019); and an e-chapbook, What I Say to You