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Vo l . 7 N o . 1 the politically-correct thing to do would be to award the round to Ingrid but, on the other hand, Randy was so damn funny. Saul Grandiose, being no show business neophyte, quickly leapt to the stage. “Let’s have another hand for Ingrid, who is going to be next week’s Featured Reader!” he exclaimed. Having thus placated the poetry of castration, the judges were free to award the contest to Randy, score 28 to 27.5. I began to be gripped by an uneasy feeling that the whole event was subtly rigged. At last, it was my turn to enter the fray. As no one had signed up for the No. 8 slot, Saul called for a volunteer from the audience to serve as “sacrificial poet.” “It doesn’t matter what you say,” explained Saul. It’s all poetry.” “You suck!” Someone from the bar yelled. “That’s a poem,” replied Saul, not missing a beat. “See how easy it is? Now, who wants to give it a try?” A lanky youth, bearing a resemblance to one of the banjo players in “Deliverance” and noticeably weaving from the effects of the pitcher of beer that he was apparently drinking on his own, stood up and announced his name was Harry, he had just moved to the city from Kitsap County, and he’d be willing to give it a try. In spite of the fact that the crowd seemed to be turning ugly, I was somewhat relieved that I would be going up against a neophyte. Feeling strangely calm, I stepped into the spotlight. As my initial poem had seemed a little thin, I had worked all week on an epic allegory in which I am forced to have sex with a giant gray slug (whom my biographers, of course, will instantly recognize as Stanley.) To give the piece an air of verisimilitude, I had even gone so far as to do actual research at the library, home of my old grade-school friend the Encyclopedia Britannica. Slugs, I learned, are hermaphroditic, but the male and female organs are on opposite sides of their heads, thus making it impossible for them to mate with themselves. (The gastropod equivalent of the human male’s inability to give himself a blowjob, no doubt.) In order to reproduce, two slugs must hang from a mutually-created mucous string and entwine themselves, at which point the male can insert his organ into the female counterpart (a wonderful metaphor, as sleeping with Stanley is about as satisfying as getting fucked in the ear.). After a long, graphic description of my naked abasement within its embrace, the grand finale comes in which, grabbing a box of Morton salt, I scream dramatically “When it rains…it pours” and empty the contents on the slug’s back, precipitating a veritable

ocean of frothing, gelatinous slime from which I rise like Botticelli’s Venus, ready to make the most of my rebirth. When I had finished, a stunned silence, so complete I could hear static from the volumeless TV, fell on the room. “I must have really touched them,” I thought, leaving the stage to allow Harry to make a fool of himself before my triumph could attain official status. Staggering to the podium with what looked like a homemade mandolin fashioned out of old food bank boxes, he slurred, “This is a song dedicated to you sniveling, bottom-feeding fame whores who want to be rock stars without even bothering to take the time to learn to play instruments—you make me want to puke this cheap beer you have to swill down just to look at yourselves in the mirror. Thank you.” Plunking out what sounded like some trailer-trash hybrid of Appalachian rap music, he sang: Look at me, I’m a poet I wanna be on MTV And have a date with Madonna When she’s wearing her BVD’s I don’t have any talent I don’t even bother to read Look at me, I’m a poet I wanna be on MTV. “Oh dear, I hope they don’t lynch the poor boy,” I thought as he stalked off, glowering fiercely. I needn’t have worried—the ovation lasted two minutes, interspersed with audience comments like “What balls!”. “Man, he tells it like it is!”, “Our greatest satirist”, and “Let’s make him our God and worship Him.” “Sores, please,” shouted Saul over the melee. Harry got a 30. My own score, unfortunately, proved incalculable, consisting as it did of a combination of 1, pi, and the negative square root of 69. As I made my hasty, albeit dignified, exit, I overheard comments like “Ewww!”, “There goes the slug lady!”. And “Doesn’t she know that the sex bit has been out for 6 months now?” Outside the café, the winter drizzle luckily camouflaged my embarrassing tears of rage and disappointment. “Shit,” I thought. “I’m too old to let these little assholes get to me like this…” As I stood under the awning, peering out into the neon-illuminated drizzle and trying to remember where the hell I had parked my car, a young man joined me on the square foot of dry space available. I took him in with a sidelong glance—long hair, black raincoat, Alice In Chains t-shirt, felt fedora, boots (which I later learned

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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