Renal Sonogram

Tuesday morning and I’m lifting

my shirt, lying on my back

in a dark room. I have trouble

with the lab technician’s accent,

ask her to repeat every question

as she spreads gel on my belly,

presses a wand here and there

taking pictures of my kidneys.

“Please, deep breath.” Holding it,

I am hoping for easy answers,

a pill, less sodium in my diet

to stop my calves from swelling

as I sit at my desk writing,

standing and yelling for more

at Los Lobos’ Sunday night show.

No breathing please.” I think

about this morning’s email, news

that my oldest friend’s nephew

is dead. Thirty-eight years old,

he went to grammar school

with my baby brother. The police

suspect foul play and Kevin’s

driving all the way from Cleveland

with his second wife. The wake

will either be a crying, moaning

mess or a half empty room filled

with awkward guilty silence

and I wish I didn’t have to go.

Turn on side, please. Face wall.”

After this, I’ll ride the G train

to the residence, fire the guy

I was training to help cut

my work load in half. I feel

bad. He’s twenty-six, a funny,

ambitious kid who needs money

for his ‘baby mama drama.’

But his attention span’s shorter

than a text message

and he kept borrowing cash

from the workers he supervised.

“Lie on back one time again.

Lower pants please.” I undo

my belt,  slide my pants down

so the top of my pubic hair

shows. “Hold breath, please now.” 

Younger, I’d have to concentrate,

try hard not to get an erection.

Now, I would be pleased to feel

my cock growing uncontrollably.

I watch the technician carefully

as she ignores me, does her job.

I imagine her hair let loose

from her bun, the lab coat falling

to the floor. But no, she’s not

the kind of woman I can picture

working in a Chinatown spa

leading me to the back room.


“Relax. All done, please.” I leave

knowing I will have to wait

patiently as possible until next

Tuesday, 12:45, for my doctor

to interpret the results, maybe

look me in the eye and deliver

news I’d never want to hear

or the chance of a happy ending.

Originally published in Newtown Literary Review

Tony Gloeegler is a life-long resident of New York City and has managed group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn for over 35 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Spillway, Nerve Cowboy and Juked. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015). NYQ Books recently released What Kind Of Man June 2020.