Last night I was sobbing again in the bathroom—

Unclothed, soaped-up, nothing new—when I happened

to glance out the window and see the peeping tom

crying too, nakedly, and we shared a moment

of camaraderie before I went to the kitchen,

digging in the drawer for the butcher knife to cut

the cake on which was written “Happy Birthday, Claude!”

I wasn’t Claude and it wasn’t my birthday.  

This was just some days-old baked good got on clearance

after its owner failed to appear. Sorry, Claude.

Wearing only icing, I reminisced about


giving tours of the teaching hospital, whiskey  

in hand. Or how I sunbathed on the lido deck

of the cruise ship with my ex-wife. We studied our

Oedipal complexes as one might a raised mole,

wondering if we ought to get them checked.  

Recently I read that a thousand Irishmen  

had consented to being photographed naked  

for an art instillation. See: nudity is natural!

So why all this attention paid to matters

like agrarianism? The ship is sinking,

someone joked, and everyone’s emotional bareness


heaved and twittered. My ex-spouse wondered aloud

what it might be like to run frenzied and topless

into a cavernous ocean while I recalled something

someone once told me about a dog with a neck wound

infested with maggots. When the owner touched

the fur it fell away, revealing maggot-covered

flesh, as the dog lay promptly down and died.  

The owner claimed this was fairly common, thinking

I might accuse her of abuse, but I wasn’t

in the mood for indictments, too busy sleepwalking

through my own doorways of ragged glass.


Dan Pinkerton lives in Urbandale, Iowa. His work has appeared in PleiadesBoston ReviewCanteenIndiana ReviewCutbank, and Quarterly West, among others.