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Three Flash

by J. Bradley

Blip, Blip, Blip

Helen grips my hand when she sees the tumor on the screen. The sonographer moves the wand. The obstetrician points out the thing that makes the tumor a boy. Helen glances up at me. She doesn’t know how hard I practiced giving her a look that says “I’m happy that we’re doing this.”


“This is the only communion I’m ok with,” my father said. He peeled the scab from his right forearm, looked at it, then put it in his mouth. “It’s your turn,” he said between chews. I winced as I peeled the scab from my shin.


“What’s a middle school math teacher gonna teach you about sex?” My father held the permission slip away from him like a carton of curdled milk.

“Y’know, stuff.”

“All you need to know is whether you want to pull out.” He crumpled the permission slip, lobbed it in the trash. “You’ll know from where when the time’s right.”

I waited until he was asleep to recover the permission slip. He made me practice signing his name as an emergency precaution; not wanting to be a father like him counted as an emergency.

J. Bradley is the author of the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books) and the prose poem chapbook It Is A Wild Swing Of A Knife (Choose the Sword).

Lead image: “Sex Ed 101” (via Flickr user Brave Heart)


  1. So closely interconnected, leaning on each other, propping each other up. A great threesome – very honest. Made me smile and wince in equal measure.

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