The Poet Spiel

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used to be with every thanksgiving turkey my brother joey’d get the gizzard cuz nobody else wanted it and me and jessica’d wrassle over the liver til i’d get her in a half-nelson so she’d give in   

every year aunt freda’d make me promise jessica could have the liver next year but i always crossed my fingers behind my back

we’re all decades down the road now so jessica can admit she never really liked liver
i’d still love it with sautéed onions but it gives me awful gout in my big toes

thanksgiving’s usually when it all comes up
the whole clan piles onto the fattest turkey old freda can buy but there’s nobody but her cats to eat the gizzard cuz joey’s laying his guts on the line in afghanistan                  

it seems conversation about livers has become central for the past four years cuz my uncles gabe and bartley and harv’ve all needed liver transplants

seems like every thanksgiving somebody new gets skinny and turns yellow like the color of fat on freda’s turkeys so they jabber on about how mickey mantle got one in a couple of days and he didn’t have to wait forever on that damn list cuz he was famous or something even though he was a drunk and even people who needed livers the most were dying for him to get one

and now that aunt freda’s got end-stage liver disease she says it’s cuz she’s used too much wine in her cooking so that’s how come she’s so yellow 
she figures she’s probly number 50,000 on the wait list but if she was rich or famous like mickey mantle blah blah blah pass the gravy and dressing  she’s just too exhausted to feed this bunch anymore and besides that she’s got no appetite and maybe she might have to go to china where you can get a liver quick and cheap
every time they off somebody

mom volunteers to feed the crew next year
i’d stuff the turkey and make gravy and i’m good with cranberries but i can’t stand the sight of any food when everybody’s yellow so i tell them how joey’s been texting about all the people livers he sees going to the dogs in afghanistan and if you don’t mind a little grit or scarring he says he probly can grab a few while they’re still wet and he could ship them damn near overnight in trade for a thanksgiving turkey gizzard or two

then he texts again to ask if people have gizzards    


The Poet Spiel is a master at risk taking an uncertain world where, harboring the visceral paranoia that accompanies surveillance at our every turn, we wish everything would turn out ok but we are too often disappointed to find out that it does not.