John Muth

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Unintentional Harassment

I am in the waiting room
of my general practitioner’s office,
shoulders and hips
burning like forest fires
hoping he can recommend a good orthopedist.

The door opens
and I see a woman in her early 40’s,
dark-haired and wearing glasses.
Our eyes meet.
I try to say hello
but she walks quickly past me
into another room.

Dr. Schwartz was my last GP.
We had one appointment together
over four years ago.
She was heavily pregnant then,
almost nine months.
I told her I was having neck pain.
She insisted on giving me a prostate exam.

Because we are different genders,
a nurse had to be present.
A young blond woman came in
and stood at attention
like an army recruit.

I bent over the table
naked from the waist down
cringing at the snap of the latex glove
wincing as a K-Y smeared finger
slowly entered my anus.

In the midst of my embarrassment,
I joked that some men
pay good money for an experience like this.

My doctor then suggested
I find another GP.
I did so promptly
but in the same office.

R-Rated X-Ray

Standing in a polka-dotted hospital gown,
my joints ache
as an elderly technician
manhandles me into position.

The x-ray machine screeches
and I wonder how much protection
this lead vest actually gives.
Dad got radiation at forty-six
to reduce a benign tumor.
Fourteen years later,
he was diagnosed with lymphoma and leukemia.

She tells me to lie on the table,
moves my legs apart
and through the pain I think I feel
her fingertips brushing
the hair of my inner thigh.

The machine and I screech
one last time.
As I push myself up to a standing position,
she tells me I have a strong pelvis.
There are probably
a few good thrusts left in it.
She winks
and slaps my ass with the back of her hand
as I walk to the door.


John David Muth is from central New Jersey. He has been working for Rutgers University for over twenty years. His latest book, Misanthropes Rarely Procreate (Kelsay Books), was published last year and can be found on