Patient #1


The surgeon and the patient spend an entire morning removing metal hunks from the patient’s bones.  The hunks are grey and shaped like letters neither man can translate.

“What do they spell?” the patient asks.

“Nothing now,” the surgeon says. “The rest of the letters have already been sliced out. Besides, they spelled nothing together before. And the penmanship was weak.”

“Was the text print or cursive?” the patient asks.

“Cursive,” the surgeon replies. “But with a lot of mistakes.”

“What if the letters made a special code; one you couldn’t decipher. Maybe it could have been cracked, if you tried…”

“Those are your bones,” the surgeon says. A sigh escapes his lips. “It’s all your bones that are cracked.”  

On the patient’s skin, the surgeon’s voice blows like an air conditioner. 










and Wednesdays are the surgeon’s 24-hour shifts.  In the hospital at night, he sits in the same seat in an empty cafeteria. During small pauses he falls asleep. The residents assume he’s religious, or just meditating. They try not to stare. The surgeon moves only to stretch or scratch his arms. A small girl is assigned to summon him when needed. She hides red acne behind a plastic clipboard. “Sorry to bother you,” she explains mutedly.

In waiting rooms, wives and mothers sob.








Patient #2


“What do you see inside me?” the patient whispers. “What have you found out?”

An oil portrait of a man hangs before the surgeon.  The canvas slits like a vas deferens seeking shade in the surgeon’s silhouette.








Seven things the Surgeon does at Seven Different Moments


1. Sobs on the toilet
2. Struggles with a paper towel dispenser
3. Scowls at the sight of a woman’s hairy arm
4. Slices holes in sick grown-ups
5. Slices holes in girls with ambition
6. Slices holes in boys who want to be girls’ boyfriends
7. Saunas in a magma chamber of antibacterial steam








Patient #3


“At first it was yellow, and then it turned green.  Maybe that’s because I held my eyes closed and blocked out all the light. I could hear it calling out from deep down, howling inside me like a dog for the sun.  Later, the hound bawled letters and numbers, and then the names of different colors.”

The patient illustrates the effect his condition creates.

“When in a Starbucks, caffeinating, drinking something like strange water, it happens:  The floor spreads out like shallow surf; the walls extend into frothy sea jaws. Tropical fish surround me; each one has its genus stitched into its gills.”

A murmur moves from the surgeon outward, touching every student in the class.

“He’s only talking about his soul,” the surgeon lectures.

Three students ask three questions:

1. “Is this a joke?”
2. “Is this some foreign infection?”
3. “Is there an effective meditation?”

The surgeon silences them all with a swift scalpel movement.








The Surgeon Indulges His Self Once a Day


as he eyes a Martian planet in a galaxy far away.  He thinks he can see it through his glasses; looks like the shell of the earth but scooped to curl like strawberry ice-cream; clouds fill its atmosphere with a soft swirl of vanilla. The surgeon can’t even wait to spoon his spoon into the carton.  He goes straight for the alien surface with the whole of his face.








Patient #4


“The Statue of Liberty looks nothing like the original Statue of Liberty. It’s just a corroded reminder of what has passed.”  

The patient has spent a fortune surgically altering her body to channel Lady Liberty. 

“Make me just like the original,” she implores the surgeon, shaking her teary head.

It seems like this is always happening, the surgeon thinks. The clouds do their best float around all our different buildings. The commercials cue up for longer commercial breaks.  Thirty-minute stories meander aimlessly without any discernable plot.  People are sad but hopeful, thinking, behind the grey blinds of cloud, there is a world breathing heavenly breaths that only God has breathed before. Paris Hilton quickly falls out of love, and into a new love. Oil becomes energy; with this energy, we fight.








The Surgeon Watches a Nurse


paint her nails with blue polish. She has decided on beige scrubs to disguise herself like the hospital walls while waiting for her polish to dry. It smudges and her body becomes more visible. The surgeon hands the nurse a tissue and she looks like she might cry.   The nurse wipes the smudged nail on the tissue; the tissue sticks to the nail, smudging the finger further. She pours nail polish remover on her hand that makes the surgeon feel high.  Slowly, the nurse dissolves through the seat of her plastic chair, fainting, and making a broad beige pool on the floor.  The surgeon checks her pulse. He checks his pulse. He checks her pulse.








Patient #5


“My sex addiction has made all my relationships boring,” the patient says.  “And now my prostate looks like this!”

His incision opens to the sound of Velcro.  The surgeon carefully unfastens the strips with one hand, taking several minutes to complete.  His arm is constant, steady, and even.

“Who was your first?” the surgeon asks.

“She was a Cancer by birth,” the patient muses.  “And yours?”

Time swallows the surgeon in pause.

“I was just a boy,” he says, fastening two clamps to the patient’s pelvis. “And she was some drunken car wreck.”



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