My Boss Prefers a Euphemism to the Term Sex Toy

as though I don’t know what happens when I place his

member in the Hands-Free Fleshlight (I know that’s

not its name) I once saw it at the other end of the store

(at Good Vibes) & decided I wanted to not think of work

more than inspect the packaging so I just kept looking

for condoms with the most convincing [It Feels Like Not

Wearing Anything!] packaging he keeps the fish toy in

a navy-blue wooden box hand-painted with the tropical fish tourists scuba through

it looks like what my ex might have bought on her trip

to Ecuador if she hadn’t brought me back a pouch

of shore pebbles I choose to imbue it with pained

nostalgia whereas I imagine he sees it like I do

the internet browser that moment before I clickclick &


             the shower temp fluctuates dramatically

so when he asks for it (after I blow his nose

generally) I sprint from the bathroom to his

closet & back hoping he won’t be scalded by mere desire

(he never trained me on desire burns (in my life

that’s when I numb (I would probably spray him

with cold water (which he hates (& he’d fire me

(which we both might find more relieving than

inconvenient at this point)))))) sometimes I almost

freeze when he proclaims BRING ME THE

FISH TOY! (that’s how I hear it anyway

(like an ancient king might have called

for grapes (but meant sex))) I freeze

like a pond in places I’ve only visited

where there are actual seasons & the

aquatic life must endure a terrible stretch of hours annually contemplating cryogenics & then

I repeat the proclamation as a question

Want the fish toy, boss? which absolutely

sounds like the start of a weird porno

I might watch & not touch myself to . . .

my thoughts can get amusing then &

I might even smile to myself but appear

to be smiling at him (which is exactly

the type of response a euphemism is

employed to prevent) I’m the attendant

on fish toy duty out of seniority &

because the years have revealed suffering

to be most of my identity he knows

I started in this work to work through

shit connected to my disabled father

he doesn’t know my first day ever

there occurred a fecal disaster the likes

of which I have never encountered since

& my ex picked me up after & held me

in her car I think we both felt like I do

when I masturbate & then hate myself.

I recall telling her Anything I can do?

she answered You are. I told us both

& decided to try & be a caregiver

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