First Urologist Visit: November 14, 2019 

Mark Blackford

Tic-Tacs. . .


In a darker time, 

a different me allowed myself 

to call them by that name


in part due to the beautiful sound they’d make 

as they bounced about their plastic bounds

like loose bullets at the bottom of a box,

begging to be chambered and shot into my mouth

but mostly because

like their namesake,

there’s no such thing as too many

& you can’t have only one.



they go by a more mature name: Ativan.

The label from the pharmacy will read: Lorazepam.

They’re being prescribed to me

as an integral part of my vasectomy. 

The doctor says they’ll ease the tension;

when taken as prescribed, 

they will prevent my balls from withdrawing themselves,

making it easier for him

to find and extract the vas deferens

& I get that, because I know


when taken for fun,

benzos have the ability 

to melt the brain down like plastic,

press it into a record

play it for the world

and let an imaginary hand 

randomly lift the needle.


When the vinyl spins 

absent of sound, 

you can drive for hours 

with your hair caught in a closed window

and not have a fucking clue

before you come to and realize 

you’re white-knuckling the steering wheel;

the car’s in the driveway, 

the engine’s been running

for god knows how long

& you haven’t moved an inch at all. 


In large enough quantity,

days deconstruct into dreams

the memory cannot conjure at will

and for those with a mind like mine

such memorably forgettable things 

are cherished. I see how this will work;


how my balls will feel better 

believing that this is just another

misplaced puzzle piece of a life

I cannot look back on to laugh at;

how I may finally have to explain why

sometimes, I laugh and cry in my sleep. 


We get through the formalities,

the doctor and I

& he finally gets to asking me why,

at such a young age,

I want to stop having children.


I feed him some bullshit 

about finances 

and the state of the world;

how explaining Neo-Nazism 

to two toddlers

is enough for one lifetime. 

What I neglect to mention

is that this appointment marks 

two months of my being sober. 

I’m barely 31.


For 17 years of that not a night went by 

that I didn’t have to put together the next morning.

For 10 of those 17 I’ve been a partner;

for 6 of those 10 I’ve been a parent,

and 60 days ago I woke on an empty bed 

in clothes I did not remember. 

On my phone

a picture of me 

swimming in a sea of vomit 

& four sentence fragments:

This. Has. To. Stop. 


I neglect to mention how, on that day, I gave up

chasing lost puzzle pieces of dreams 

& promised to never let anyone down, again;

how that starts right here, with him, 

stopping me

from being able to make anyone else, ever

feel that ashamed of me again.  


He tells me it could take up to a year

before I am completely sterile 


& all I can manage to ask him

is how much longer will I have to wait

until I’m fixed. 

Mark was born and raised in Monticello, NY. He earned a BA in Creative Writing from Valdosta State University (GA, 2010). Prior work has appeared in Forbidden Peak Press, Cathexis Northwest Press, WayMark: Voices of the Valley, and the CAPS 2020 Anthology. He lives in Woodridge, NY with his wife and kids, and is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Sullivan County, NY.


Find him on Instagram @markbpoet