Youssef Helmi

On jerking off w/ a vibrator pressed to my taint after attending a comedy show

the comedian says,
bequeathing knowledge unto us, the pauper crowd,
if you want guys to call you back,
gotta work the taint.

The perineum is usually defined as the surface region
between the pubic symphysis and the coccyx.

The “Google Maps” version, for easier location:
drive between the anus and the scrotum/vulva.

If four syllables is too much or if medical jargon,
like phallus and labia, feels too icky in your mouth:

If you’re too refined to say that in public but are still
considering sliding your fingers down there sometime,
nod your head to Mark Bibbins, celebrate the word
“boyband” because you, too, loved J.T. in NSYNC.

The comedian recommends applying the active surface of
a vibrator
to the [perineum / taint / boyband].                              *circle your preference*

All the crowd’s women take notes
unabashedly and
the men squirm. I write it down in my
Notes App, pretending to send a text.

Last Wednesday, I sat on the red couch, hugging
the yellow pillow, and asked my therapist if it’s
okay to masturbate when I’m sad.

I think it’s all right to be sad and masturbate.
Why do you masturbate when you’re sad?

To be happy
I said.

She said
Are you always sad when you masturbate or
do you always masturbate when you’re sad?

I was going to say something about squares
and rectangles, but our time was over, and
on the walk to my car, I hummed a song, saw
a girl in an NSYNC shirt run after the bus.

Retrograde ejaculation is the entry of semen into
the bladder instead of exiting through the urethra.

It may be deliberately incurred by squeezing at the base
of the penis or by applying pressure to the perineum.

I won’t say I sometimes want to die as much as I
would like to devolve into complacent nothingness;
as in something completely insignificant happens,
like doing poorly on a pop quiz
dropping a book in a puddle so all the pages are ruined,
and for the rest of the day I am heavy, burdened by some
“blue balls”-esque build up somewhere in my chest,
so when I sit on the couch, I sink deep into the cushions,
pressing my cold granite nails into my feather-fair legs.

After the comedian’s set, I go to Adam’s Toys and
walk past leather flogs and purple dog masks. Like
an informed customer, I read the backs of boxes
and investigate online, peruse customer reviews on
blogs and ask the cashier for anecdotal evidence.

Question for anatomists:
                                                                  Is there a perineum for your heart–
                                                                  maybe not the literal one but, you know,
                                                                  the metaphorical one–
                                                                  and if so, can I press on it with my thumb
                                                                  and hold in everything I’ve been trying to
                                                                  keep buried deep inside?

If you have an answer, send me a
postcard with easy-to-read how-to
instructions, please.

Instructions for Use:
1)   Remove massager from packaging.
2)   Install enclosed (2) AAA batteries.
3)   This product has 3 speed settings.
      1)  Oh, you’re just experimenting?
      2)  Your [significant other] just dumped you?
      3)  You’re really this lonely?
      (The ON/OFF button will cycle through the 3 speeds.)
4)   Use soft, silicone tip (dark blue) to apply product to hole you’re trying to fill.
5)   Clean massager of possible bodily fluids after every use as directed.
6)   Clean yourself of shame after every use. (Recommended)

Per usual,
I am sad tonight when I go to masturbate,
having locked the door and popped in
No Strings Attached so my roommates
cannot hear.

On my bed, I curl into a ball and squeeze
the vibrator to my chest, pressing harder
and harder to keep the bubbling in, like
a form of retrograde lamentation; I shove
my face into the pillow, hoping to keep
every cry stifled so not a word is heard.

Projectile Motion

Donnie Darko, 2001


We were at our hangout / a clearing of /
dirt and weeds / on the side of a highway /
drinking beer and / shooting bb’s at cans /
when Donnie first said that /
Smurfs can’t fuck / that                        they don’t even have reproductive organs

I felt elated / all-powerful / so undoubtedly unique /
we were all laughing when / back to us /
voice a hush / Donnie also said             What’s the point of living if you don’t have a dick?

we exchanged looks / and thought /
what a joy it is / to have a dick /
to be a species able to stand tall /
look down / admire the shadow /
that I alone impose on the Earth


The next morning, there are sirens and crowds
                                          and unanswered questions across the street at Donnie’s
house where a plane engine crashed through
                                          the roof the night before. Still in my pajamas, morning
wood jutting, I wander from my porch, into
                                          the road, to his family huddled by the open rear doors
of an ambulance. His family of two sisters
                                          crying into the arms of their mother and his father, staring
with clouded eyes at something I was not sure
                                          the rest of us could see. His family who keep insisting that
he should have been sleepwalking or in the
                                          living room watching a late-night HBO porno or out
breaking curfew, disobeying them, when the
                                          engine fell into his room. Over and over his mother asks
me why we hadn’t gone out smashing mail-
                                          boxes or stealing beer, and feeling as though I may be
swept in and buried under their ever-filling gulf
                                          of remorse, I flee forward into the crowd, away from the
guilt gnawing behind my eyes like an epileptic
                                          would the wooden spoon jammed into their mouth. I push
forward until I arrive to the wall of reporters,
                                          rabid with their photos and questions like macerated rats,
surging against the officers pushing back to
                                          protect the bright yellow tape strung between the trees and
the fence, between us and Donnie, as if some-
                                          thing swaying so easily in the wind, something so ephemeral,
could possibly partition grief.


To say what happened to Donnie was nonsensical is,
in itself, nonsensical. If I open my AP Physics text-

book to the projectile motion unit, I can simply solve
for Donnie’s death. The distance between our houses

is twenty meters. If the plane’s altitude is 3000 meters,
like in the textbook, then the distance for the engine to

travel is 3000.02 meters. The plane was traveling at 275
meters per second, so the calculated time for Donnie’s

death is 17.5 seconds. There’s nothing nonsensical about
it, simply mathematical, completely predictable. The text-

book doesn’t concern itself with why Donnie? It doesn’t
wonder what would’ve happened had the engine fallen

a few seconds earlier and landed in my room instead. It
doesn’t wonder, if it had fallen on me, would Donnie also

have thought back to our conversation from yesterday
and considered whether being better than a Smurf really

matters at all because, despite having a dick, I’m still
just a snail wriggling through the underbrush with no

control over the careless steps of giants from above.


That night, after everyone’s asleep
I roll out of bed and fuck everything
I fuck the refrigerator door
I fuck the couch between cushion and arm
I fuck the hamper my sister and I share
I fuck my own helpless(worthless)ness
I fuck until I am in control

Author Portrait

Youssef Helmi is a poet of Egyptian descent at Florida State University where he studies Creative Writing, Political Science, Arabic, and French. His fiction and poetry have been featured in Cleaver Magazine, the Rappahannock Review, Rigorous, Orson’s Review, and Sink Hollow among others. He is currently working on a collection of ekphrastic poetry. When not writing, he stress-drinks caffeinated beverages, binge-watches seasonal anime, and muses over the musical merits of death metal.