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from Vytautas Pliura's "TENDERNESS IN HELL"


Stuck in a Straight Bar: Anita Bryant Territory
Little Town Outside of Miami: Dade Co. Florida
Car Being Repaired: 103 Degrees F

I am luxuriating here and rotting here like a wilting
Bird-of-Paradise among the shrunken heads. Aqua Velva
wafting in the air like squiggly heat waves on a
tar-sopped road.

The locals lean against the sticky walls eyeing


comfortable and chubby in their paisley sport shorts
reminding me for some strange reason of those gaudy
salt and peppers shakers you buy at Niagara falls

I am wearing my gay pride T-shirt, shocking pink
plastered in sweat.

Maybe these people are souvenirs
It is hard to tell.

I notice that the microwave is ketchup-spattered
I re-think it
I hope it isn’t blood from the last obvious gay guy who came
in here for a rootbeer while his car was being fixed

God only knows what that Tom Cruise-look-a-like is doing
to my carburetor.

I don’t know
Is it me?
These people seem hostile.

My days as an ACT UP trouble-maker are beginning to surface
I betray myself because I’m chewing on my T-shirt.

Some of the salt and pepper shakers are spitting wads of
tobacco into ashtrays and looking in my direction.

With this heat how do I know this isn’t Hell?, sweat rolls
down my neck like Niagara Falls

I’ll be hard as nails I’m sitting on the edge of my chair
as sleek as an eagle with emerald and coffee-colored feathers
flecked with topaz and gold My talons have torn the
salmon-colored plastic seat covering.

and I didn’t notice
until just now

These people have crab pincers for hands.

They WANT something.

They are ALL wearing T-shirts with tangerine-colored
flamingos with their heads in the sand traps
or with Everglades Real Estate Advertisements.

Someone just threw me a Beer Nut.

I am holding it in my beak.



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