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Joe and Mort
Mort and Joe on Joe's 50th Birthday



for Joe Stroud

In this land everything is poor. The people have pressed their backs into postures of humility and climb from crevices to beg for food.

We offered them coins, which they immediately ate, unaware of their teeth breaking. We offered them our scarves and hats, then our key chains, staring as they devoured each one.

Finally, we broke off slabs of rock, which some of them ate, while others began nibbling at our pant legs or running their wet tongues along the sleeves of our jackets.

We fed them our words, whole sentences, paragraphs, but still they kept eating. And when we turned, we found they had devoured our car, which lay on its side like the skeleton of a cow.

It was after they ate our clothes that the slimmest of us were able to escape: we ran naked among them and began wrenching up roots and desperately chewing.

Later we remembered that our passports had been in our pockets, and the guards at the border have refused us permission to pass.

Now we squat at the edge of the snow, waiting for tourists. But when they arrive, they only throw coins. We want to tell them who we are, and when no one is looking we attempt to grab their hands, which they hurriedly withdraw.

We have not lost hope, but we grow hungrier every day, and each of us has admitted than he can detect the odor of tourists for hours before they arrive.

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  Courtesy of Joe Stroud   Floodlight Feature by phren-Z