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Me and Karen

I have intrusive thoughts of jumping in front of a train.

I take a step back. Take two. I listen to the Carpenters.

Karen, my Beloved.

Her voice soothes me, more than sex, drugs, or any friend can.


At the supermarket, I like putting my hand in the coffee grinder

as it grinds the beans.

I push the beans toward the stainless steel teeth

as if that will help the beans grind faster.

Will the woman next to me faint if the grinder takes a finger?


I like to stare at knives, imagine them cutting through tin cans, or bone.

I want to run my thumb along the blades.


I remember in high school, in shop class,

being tempted by the circular saw.

Bringing my finger so close, and closer, and closer, then pulling it back. Doing it all again, and later, at night, thinking about it some more.


Karen and I talk every day.

About what may have been, and what may yet be.

And though her voice exists only in my head, still she relaxes me.


I’m such an idiot that I want to drive 100 miles per hour, like I did when

I was 16. I miss driving like that so bad. I want to be airborne in my car again. I want to crash.


Giving blood turns me on. I obsess over fucking the phlebotomist,

a young Chinese woman who tells me she’s drawn blood

thousands of times already.

Take me, I want to say to her. Be my vampire. Make me live forever.


I think of Karen vomiting. Lying on the bathroom floor. Dead at 32.

So much more she could’ve shared with us.

I try hard to remember that her voice is immortal.

I have intrusive thoughts of stepping in front of a bus.

I take a step back. Take two. I listen to the Carpenters.



Ben’s stories have been published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Devolution Z, and Every Day Fiction. His poetry has appeared in sPARKLE & bLINK, the 2014 Poets 11 Anthology, and Clockwise Cat. Ben also reads his work throughout the Bay Area. When he’s not reading or writing, he teaches ESL at City College of San Francisco. Visit him at



One Reply to “Me and Karen – by BENJAMIN FINATERI”

  1. You’ve managed to beautifully juxtapose two elements here–the darkness of the narrator’s impulses to the softness of Karen Carpenter’s voice. For those aware of her battle with mental illness, you’ve really highlighted how her own struggle parallels that of the narrator’s. Nicely done.


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