Praise Him

[Essay #3 for ENGL 215, in the style of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. We were asked to be vulnerable, whatever that means to us.]

1. Everyone else seems to love huge mirrors in bedrooms.

2. He told me they especially loved the mirror in my bedroom. He told me it was his apartment, too. His wife kept calling, asking me where he was. I lied to her but it was the truth. I didn’t see the waitress when I arrived home from work the next morning. She was a lump in a blanket. His lump was in my throat. She wanted a shower. I went out to my balcony, sat down, and stared. He laughed at me when he found me there. Chided me. Touched me. I was silent. I drove him to work.

3. Family trees don’t list friends.

4. I no longer shared my apartment when I had sex, both times. I didn’t look at the mirror. I looked into his eyes. Even when he was sleeping. I sleep when I’m alone. There’s no reason to be alone otherwise.

4a. My friend’s friend. We were just as surprised. I had no idea about blowjobs. The next morning he boasted he was going to find a threesome at the bars that night. No need for a ride back to my place.

4b. The neighbor’s dog was afraid of men. She ran up to me. She was a dog, not a psychologist. After our first date I grabbed him by the collar when he was leaving. I dragged him back to me. I couldn’t stop kissing him. I didn’t know what to do next. He said we should go to my bedroom. He told me he liked my penis. But his was bigger. I just said “thanks” ungratefully and worried I was doing it wrong. I knew him long enough to pull up my roots. I don’t feel guilty about this; his dog was right.

5. My dad and his children are part of a thick book, the genealogy easy with those branches. My mom? Her children only remember great-grandmothers. Their parents’ parents have no names. I wanted him to bite my blood and tell me.

6. He burned a mix to CD for his wife. I returned the waitress’ blanket to her friend. What I received was “Austin” by Blake Sheldon and fear of friends. Maybe if I had come home from work sick, I could have watched him and the waitress in the mirror. I might still have his body. I think he would have liked that. I wonder if all men look into the mirror and don’t see me.

7. The bloodline won’t branch with me.

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), his (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).