bodies are for bodies

words repeated in my mind as my fingers pressed into freckled arms Scarlett’s back like a trust fall, into my chest her head heavy on my collar bone chin and lump in her throat beaming upward

I blacked out after that

next morning skin against malodorous skin our brains becoming waking limbs movement creating pain but eliciting laughter tasting hangover sweat in post peak respiration our teeth alternately brandishing joy as she bestrode me

this was better than last night

last night?

yes, when I rode you and came don’t you remember?


this congress turned to communion

Scarlett, a body buoyant as I rubbed beeswax and sunflower oil patchouli, vanilla and citrus zest

smeared by my forearm up the latissimus dorsi advancing over the deltoid and trapezius

I excavated aches from deep tissue Scarlett’s lilac crest and tailbone felt like greased granite against my body weight funneled into knuckles

Scarlett made me feel like a mission all stone and silence the ambitions of ancestors standing idly in my walls

hypnagogia was easy as I lay in sweat and dragon’s blood cooling under the fan’s blades

have you ever been with a lover and turned from brain to nerve?

all id and blood and breath and something intuitive emanating from the pelvis but pooling in the reptilian brain?

heavy metal liquid and miraculous threatening to eject eyeballs from sockets

body serving body oiled but still hot with friction

hunger in the hands aches in the chest abundance erupting from throats

I remember feeling myself but perhaps watching myself also

my hands and mouth knew what my mind did not how to serve despite being severed

the whole of me an extremity reanimated refusing to go the way of the flesh


I felt this become a thread years later when Carrie first put her fingers on my sacrum

an advent an arrival a reconciliation

in a world where men are expected to be a persistent body, so much mass anchored beneath still waters

I learned never to mistake delicacy for something that won’t make the immovable yield

agony abated

my feet in her hands eyelids heavy as a strong silence

I committed the image of her naked back bent forward like murmurs in the dark

moles ran down hallowed, humble to a perfect resolution

the next day I lay my head in her lap and she said

why are you such a sweet boy?


eventually I was alone again

and I didn’t think about these things

until I did

winter near my birthday

ten days work packed like spray foam insulation

leaked from anywhere my body bent

again between sleeping and waking as the masseuse drilled elbow and forearm to clandestine parts

my back crackled under her feet

I rolled over with eyes closed and and felt her finger tips glide over my eyebrow cheek and neck

you’re very handsome

my eyes parted as a single finger nail ran down my chest

later I sat in the car mortified but elated

I was no victim

except to my loneliness and power to manifest


a few months passed

I sat at Cobalt a bar with no windows my thumbs in a promenade between apps

occasionally reaching for either glass blindly

a sip from the libby with a five-count of sour mash

a pull from the pint of cold Belgian white

the barkeep asked as my face filled with blood another happy meal?

not yet I said

but then I called him back while reading Dahlia Lithwick for Slate:

the lost sleep the grinding anxiety the escalating fears don’t just represent squandered time

the healthy response would be to tune it out but since actual people are actually suffering we cannot

another round

Matt Ford for New Republic:

Trump’s habitual lying gave no reason to believe the assertion

and yet journalists and lawmakers spent weeks trying to discern whether he was telling the truth

congressional committees investigated it

newspapers assigned reporters to cover the allegations

cable news channels spent hours debating them

after U.S. spy agencies resolutely denied any such wiretaps existed a Fox News analyst sparked a minor diplomatic row by suggesting that Obama may have asked the British to do it instead

(he did not, Britain’s version of the National Security Agency said in an extraordinarily rare statement)

I rubbed my eyes touched the pint glass heavy again cold again


human lives are bounded by time and attention

every moment that’s spent focused on one thing can’t be spent another way

at a certain level, it’s not healthy to tabulate all of these expenses

in other circumstances, however, it’s unhealthy not to do so

I closed my browser and opened one of four dating apps

no matches but several profiles saved

Barbara, 41, curvy and professional on horseback near mountains

at the front door in nice jeans and a tightly tucked dress shirt

interests: fishing and inspirational books

I clicked the message icon and felt my head become heavy as tungsten . . . . . I thought of Carrie the last—and only— healthy love

which happened last administration

not a result of swiping or starring but a few private messages turning to banter eventually a proper flirt galvanized by three whiskeys

I opened Facebook where writer Gwen Beatty (then Werner) posted about her sharps being taken away, ten on her person, a few hidden at home

she had been sober for nearly two years but still wore wounds that needed stitches

she worried she’d be chasing a bath salts high for life because it worked, her therapist said

and she’s right, Gwen wrote every time I find something that makes me feel better it hurts the people I love

I screencapped the status and opened my browser again

A Jacobin article: “To Fall In Love, Click Here” with Karl Marx’s portrait over a red x and green heart

I blinked slowly, declined a fifth round and fell out the front door to lean against my car pondering the years

the misleading photos, directionless conversations, lopsided communication, overconfident poly people, stunning mothers doing it all but hurting deeply, twenty-something’s fresh off breakups confusing swiping for therapy, hookup partners with demands non-commensurate with their hygiene, sex that sent my mind out of my body and yanked it back like a resistance band with people I never saw or heard from again

the relationship purgatories reflecting feelings like funhouse mirrors I want you but— I need you but— I love you but—

I thought of Nicole in the paleteria parking lot

the world around our lips became molten while frozen treats waited

we hurried home to turn in early because her flight was before noon next morning

I thought about how many of us subsist like this

years without the touch of someone tender enough to break us and willful enough to remain

integrity intact but with love languages wired shut by an indifferent world

I pulled out my phone

I searched for a parlor


Sex work is humanity's oldest profession. One study estimates that there are about 1 million sex workers in the US alone, generating $14 billion a year. Reliable data on sex work in massage parlors is scarce at present and much of what is reported is designed to further a narrative of “human trafficking,” which is both misleading and destructive to the very people the narrative claims to protect.

Where sex work is illegal, sex workers are among the world's most disenfranchised members of society. Any person concerned with the betterment of conditions for workers and citizens should support the decriminalization of sex work.

Further reading: The Lives Of Parlor Workers How Decriminalization Will Reduce Trafficking Three Organizations Fighting to End Sex Worker Stigma