Tag Archive: olsen

Who Knows? by Josh Olsen

My mother was faced with a decision, either get rid of her morbidly obese, mentally retarded dog who she couldn’t stop from shitting on the neighbor’s lawn, or be evicted from her apartment.

It took my mother several tearful days to come to her senses, but she eventually chose her home over her pet.

The twist ending came when it was revealed who she was handing her dog over to.

Rather than the Humane Society or some random, anonymous, Classified Ad responder, Honey’s new daddy was Steve, my mother’s ex-husband, my brother’s dad, my step-father.

Despite the fact that I hadn’t seen or talked to the man in nearly twenty years, my mother, out of necessity, remained in somewhat frequent contact with him, and now, thanks to their newfound joint custody of a dog, they were actually getting along rather well.

Better even, perhaps, than when they were married.

“My God,” I gasped, “what if they get back together? I don’t think I could handle that.”

“Stranger things have happened,” KT replied after I finished summarizing my mother’s latest marathon telephone confessional.

When I finally got up the nerve to actually ask my mother about the possibility of her and Steve reuniting, she was quick to laugh it off.

“Gross!” she replied. “Have you seen him lately?”

And then she informed me that they were getting together for lunch the very next day, to talk about Honey, at Taco John’s.

“He offered to pay,” she added.

“So, then what?” I sheepishly asked, and she shrugged off my inquiry with a fleeting, “Who knows?”


Dieciocho by Josh Olsen

I knew, for a fact, that it took me eighteen seconds to piss, and I knew this because the small boy standing next to me at the urinal, two slots to my left, was counting out loud, in Spanish.

Uno…dos…tres…he began, occasionally pausing to cough or fart – his father standing directly behind him, silent, arms crossed – and when he reached dieciocho, my bladder was dry.

Have you been drinking? by Josh Olsen

“Have you been drinking?” I asked my twelve year old daughter as she came bounding through the door. “No!” she exclaimed, incredulously, with the slightest hint of a grin in the corner of her mouth. “Let me smell your breath,” I said, and leaned in as she blew into my face. I failed to detect the scent of alcohol, but couldn’t help think that the odor of Jim Beam on my own breath must’ve made me seem like a bit of a hypocrite, though whether she was even aware of this contradiction, I had no idea, and wasn’t about to inquire. “It’s late,” I said, “time to go to bed.” And, with that, she hustled to the bathroom to take a powerfully foul smelling shit, then ate some cold pizza and ran upstairs to her bedroom to fall asleep in her clothes. Her cacophonous snoring shook the house to its very frame.

If the automatic flush does not work, please flush manually before reporting the toilet out of order – Thank you

How many times had the janitor been summoned?

How many times had he been unnecessarily forced, by the terms of his employment, to confront someone else’s shit?

How many times had he bent down and simply flushed?

And within a city where the rate of illiteracy was nearly 50%, was the shit that much more foul because it was academic shit?

Scholar shit?

Tenured shit?

Poet shit?

What did the poet’s shit smell like?

What did it look like?

Did it float?

Was it one solid mass…or loose?

Was there blood or mucus or semen in it?


A penny?

I would have liked to imagine the janitor as a tragic, working class hero who cleaned shit by day and drank red wine and read Celine by night, but within a city where the rate of unemployment was 33%, the poor were too numerous to romanticize.

One Chance by Josh Olsen

Two chairs behind me, an old man dismantled a novel, page by page.
“You only get one chance,” he grumbled. “One shot.”
“One term.”
I craned my neck to see exactly what book he was tearing apart, but my view was obstructed by an Asian man I did not know was directly behind me.
His cell phone rang in his pocket and he answered in his native tongue, with the exception of one question.
“What’s the results?” he asked, then listened, hung up, and began to quietly sob.
“One term,” the old man growled.
“One chance.”