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Tony Brewer

The Doctor Is In

Sitting in my car gloving up
before mask on to buy groceries

I’m in Mindy West’s old
Ford Fiesta – 1986 we’re parked
in gravel between cornfields

her back seat jammed with wet
swim practice towels

as we navigate her stick shift
for a hustle in the front buckets

Gloving up with the news on
is Bon Jovi out of a boom box

because her car has no stereo
and every time feels like that first

Gloves snug as jeans
opening the nitrile cuff and inserting
my fingers bunched as bananas
flexing in ecstasy at the bind

carefully rough and excited
and scared and embarrassed

adding a layer of alone
is nothing like in the movies

her eager smile and that damp
hair in that moonlight

while at Kroger beneath the stare
of 360-degree surveillance lot cams

projected death tolls I cannot turn off
not feeling wild – wild in the streets

She guiding like a nurse
as I operate on a school night

with a playful snap of left glove
skin and breath weaponized

my bare fingers her anticipation
knees banging spasmodic against wheel wells

All survival acts should taste like this

I step out quiet in the populated void
onto the angled painted parking of a city

neither desperate nor essential
but still here and makeshift masked

bandana close as her mouth
wiping down the cart like a murderer
when once we were all over each other’s hands

rolling bravely through the automatic
sliding doors into a touchable doom
where not a soul can see me smile

Tony Brewer has lived in Indiana forever. His is author of The History of Projectiles (Alien Buddha Press, 2021) and Pity for Sale (Gasconade Press, 2022), among other titles. More at


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