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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


by Rick Gray

Dennis, I hate to interrupt your cry
but the prisoners are ringing in my ears
and demanding I offer you another trip, or at least a smack.
They don't care if your piercing ruins my anonymous hand,

They are worked to death, and have been waiting for years for this.
There's no courts in the camps, though I hear the nets are everywhere.
Only the guards get to shoot. Dennis, I can't let them down.
Just like you cried, "I'm sorry. I'm just trying to help."

What's it like being so cool and eccentric?
Even when you say "I'm sorry" it sounds so ironic,
like your pink wedding dress. Marriage and divorce must be jokes
when you get to hang court side like Nicholson with the Dope.

Here's their suggestion, Dennis.
Instead of me hitting you, which you won't even feel,
The prisoners want you to play for real next time.
No more games. You go to a prison camp and just sit in solitary

and keep your metal smirk shut.
We'll do it it like the Aztecs.
If you eventually crack and start blubbering tears to the press, you lose,
and the prisoners cut off your famous head and have a ball.

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.