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The First Time I Lived Alone, I Was Too Ashamed to Get Tested by Cameron Martin

(c/w: sexually transmitted infection)




I had, perhaps, just a touch of the clap, a foreign object feeling,

was waking up what felt like every other hour, was often

repositioning my junk, however politely, in class, at work,

in lines. Was pissing really very little blood. Had no time,

no money, not a clue. Vague, spiral-bound ambition:

notebook filled with lurid chicken scratch. A bad

barista job. And let’s not mention the custard color that

came upon my cum one instant in the grip of one among

the gang of men—fast as unplugged pimples splat

the shocked, pocked faces in mirrors. I can still feel

my muffled shudder, the shame-filled furrow of my brow,

still see that strike of seaweed I tried to quickly hide in

the towel he sweetly handed me, which must have stained

that crisp swatch garbage, stunk up the hamper. I can’t say

if he clocked it, that father I’d been fucking, or if he was

just too Michigan to say so. And now, living seven states

& several years away, I wonder if one of his kids

came upon it later, gave a sidelong look to that

fluorescent summary I’d lain while lying to myself (evidence of

STI I couldn’t ignore anymore), lightly curious before beelining

back to play. & later, walking up a gangplank, repositioning my junk

back into my mother’s basement, throwing in the towel

because sick of spending every god dammed dollar while

play-acting adulthood, of feeling like a foreign object,

I finally looked myself in the eye, in the mirror,

furrowed my brow, & resolved to politely ask some

handsome, somewhat haggard doctor to fondle me

diagnostically, palpate my left testicle medicinally,

looking not too shame-faced as he’d say Gonorrhea or chlamydia,

prescribe Cefixime (see me, fix me), Azithromycin (a zit: my sin).


Cameron Martin (he/they) is a fat & queer poet & essayist originally from Michigan. Their writing has appeared in Sonora Review, The Normal School, and Palette Poetry. He can often be spotted goofing off and/or irreverently bloviating on Twitter dot com @CMcLeodMartin. They currently sleep in Moscow, Idaho.

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