List of 50 (18 of 50): INCOMPLETE CONFESSION

by Blake Butler

1. There are certain pornographic images so embedded in my brain I can see them without seeing.
2. My father's small magazine collection from which I so carefully clipped single pages and kept them cataloged in a purple folder in the space under my bottom dresser drawer.
3. Years and years of intense staring.
4. Audio recordings of sex taped from the Spice Channel that I'd listen to on my Walkman.
5. The pay-per-view image crimped with static but sound coming through just fine.
6. The rhythm of the moaning. Their breaths and grunts embedded.
7. Once even listening to the sex noise during a family car ride to visit my grandmother.
8. I have no idea where the tapes are now. Their long brown loops coiled in clear plastic somewhere, gone.
9. The way Walkman's reading mechanism on deployment stabs into the tape as if to kill.
10. Vivid recollection of the first time I masturbated while watching Bikini Open on channel twelve.
11. How when I finished I thought I'd ruined myself.
12. How my penis seemed misshapen.
13. How, nevertheless, I did it again within the same week and compulsively thereafter.
14. A lifetime spent causing friction against the body of one's self.
15. The idea that the dead can now see all.
16. I have masturbated to a postcard, to a calendar, to a dream, to a Polaroid of the TV when Pamela Anderson was a contestant on Family Feud.
17. To the idea of myself.
18. I feel guilty writing this on my mother's computer.
19. I feel guilty seeing people stuck in traffic, knowing what they've done.
20. A human might ejaculate 40-300 million spermatozoa, not greatly different from the number ejaculated by a rabbit (100-300 million), but substantially less than a dog (0.2-2 billion) or horse (5-25 billion).
21. If allowed to dry, sperm becomes a crust.
22. The walls of my teenage bedroom pinned with titties.
23. Where my mom would come with my laundry, tuck me in.
24. The first non-feeding breasts I ever saw were in a tattoo mag at a gas station in Dallas, Georgia, incidentally.
25. I browsed with the magazine on the rack still, folding the page down, afraid to pick it up.
26. Kids at lunch in 5th grade passing magazines under the table with women in war paint, holding guns.
27. Always a certain silence between the sales attendant and the underage boy buying.
28. I can't imagine having grown up with the internet.
29. You think I'd remember the first time a girl touched my penis but I can't.
30. The body's skin all one large organ. The largest organ.
31. In the make of each square inch: 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 60,000 melanocytes, and more than a thousand nerve endings.
32. I sometimes find it hard to imagine that other guys have dicks.
33. The weight of all the sperm in the world.
34. The tapes of every security camera I've been recorded on.
35. The body of my father on the day I said I didn't need help learning to shave.
36. Guilt as a shiny black metal lining the inside of the stomach.
37. The worms in our intestines. Their combined weight supplanting ours.
38. Ebbinghaus's equation for the forgetting curve is R = e^(-t/S), where t is time and S is strength of memory and R is memory retention.
39. The maturation of new sperm in humans takes approximately 64 days.
40. I don't know if I could handle children.
41. Sometimes I imagine standing over my teenage self.
42. Often when passing windows I crane my head to see inside.
43. Once, for many mornings, I watched a woman shower, dress and leave for work.
44. Other times there are people wishing.
45. Someone once took me by the hand.
46. There's so much I haven't said yet.
47. Things you wouldn't want to know.
48. _______________________________________.
49. __________________________________.
50. You might not even recognize me in the night.

Blake Butler has been published or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Caketrain, Sleepingfish, Copper Nickel, Burnside Review, etc. He was shortlisted in 2005 Best American Nonrequired Reading. His website is