5. The Pork Barrel
At the debate held city central, the candidates
claim friendliness is planted in the corn, pride
baked in the cherry pie. The lesser evil claims
affordability is thriftiness, says eating cow is more
ethical than eating dog so you might as well.
Their opponent, the “monster,” cheers the all-deep-
fried diet dipped in ranch dressing and the date
night trip to Wal-Mart for matching John Deere hats.
It’s true, they agree, that Midwesterners just want,
with all their hearts, to abdicate their states,
but of course—they nod to this point in unison—
going anywhere else is a threat to national
security. Who would harvest the corn for ethanol?
Imagine the gas prices! All the pigs not tended to;
who would slice the bacon meat? Stay, they say,
and let us imagine the world a better place for it.
The monster bares teeth. People scream. No one
remembers them. The monster says Anyone not default
falls deadened by their foil. Before anyone can build
meaning, the monster announces free cheesy corn
dogs and onion blossom ranch chips for everyone—
Reach under your seats! The applause: deafening.
The monster’s roar: unintelligible, entirely missed,
crunched under the sound of chewing.
The lesser evil claims the monster is a bigot, a thief,
an uninhibited counterfeiter. The voters nod—it’s
all true. The monster is clearly evil, clearly horrific.
Ordering the poorest in the town to clear
nuclear waste barrels from the rivers was one thing,
but carrying the barrels back to the river himself…
that was unforgivable. And so the monster, eyes
brightening red, smiles. If you want stories,
let’s make some. Pinch your neighbor—go ahead, do it! And one
or two do. Giggles erupt as if the mento-plopped
pop can people cannot help themselves.
And more pinching. More. And everyone is pinching.
The monster pinches his own arm, guffaws,
pinches the lesser evil, who falls to the floor in a fit,
red-faced and empty-lunged from wheezing
smiles. The monster, work done, tap dances home.