to 5

    on the 5ives




In the break room, my boss stands above me. Need relief from work, he announces, tightens the fabric of his slacks to accentuate his hard-on.

My body becomes vacant, deprived of the digestive track. Numb inability courses through nerves, preparing for him to act. Not from this submissive will but from the mystery of action I will continue.

It is hard to remove stones. Those bodies, the residue of protein and oxalate-rich foods (endive, gooseberries, pecans, tea…), push their way from our kidneys. These painful pearls result from the mystery, the consumption of sumptuous passivity, the inability to digest easily and expel all of what we allow to enter us. The labor pains of detritus plead for inaction, both to recuperate from the internal damage but also from acquiring the excess chemicals, which will produce more stones. The pain urges us to simplify our diet.

However all we consume is passable after digestion, until with our final gulp the world is gone.


Abandoned, I carry my coffee back to my cubicle, stare at an empty spreadsheet. A faint awareness of anxiety towards the blank page menaces. The void susceptible to image, contract, warrant ever ready for the first and last violation. The void, my void, waiting for my boss to expose himself and open me, waiting for him to transfer me into a residue, a memory vaguely lingering within him after his pleasure subsides.

But is the filled page any less agitating since it forces reading, comprehension, execution? If I extract my pleasure from another can I avoid their lingering presence, the network of neurons that will reconstruct them when they have passed from me?

Could I remain empty and act? Could I know without digesting? When forced to be in culture, Quentin Crisp surrendered to its influences, a potlatch of potential. To his bashers, he apologized for his offense, his being. He was an atomic self, able to manifest but neither able nor desiring to act.

Pristine in decay.

Eating cans of beans, staring at blank walls; even a sentence consumes him.

The consumed are silent.


Not speaking, I retreat home on public transport. I seek a fall, the instant before impact, the eternity of my orgasm as I am reduced to milky filaments.

Next to me two men—one a wiry, small-faced Mediterranean; the other with spiked black hair and a ruddy tan. Their communication consists of quick glances, intersecting for longer durations. They are silent but brimming with potential action. They leave together, their amorphous magnetism and conjoined timelines soon to end in mutual spasm and separation.


A mouthful of stones corrects a stutter, perfects speech by prevention. But to speak, to fill the page, is to follow the stone's primal excretion, to trail residue into exterior space.

Across from me another at the height of his potential, maybe eighteen, dark skin, black hair, thin. The wayfarer, pushing, ripping through his life, wears only denim, bleached white and sweat-stained. A thin line of feathery black pubes leads past the open fly into a denser mesh of hair.

The bus rumbles along taking him from the night before, too much Everclear in grape juice. He is, if not going home, going somewhere with a pocketful of change and transfer. Angles of shadow suggest a limp hard-on. Provocatively napping on public transport, he cedes action to anyone.

I am moved to move closer, to imagine my breath on his skin. I curl my fingers around a metal pole and stand. The bus decelerates suddenly. I steady myself and reach out to brush his flesh, to witness his passive incredulity at my touch.

But we arrive at my stop.





nicholas alexander hayes