A Small Town Election

by Brian D. Morrison

 

5.  The Pork Barrel

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

A Small Town Election, page 6:

 

 

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