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The W.S. Merwin Club was home to many rare species of undiagnosed lunacy, said Kemal. Kemal should know. He had only recently escaped the Home for Foundlings and Syphilitics in downtown Dhaka, his birthplace, where he had heard Merwin read as a boy.

But Kemal, now a second year resident in the VTC Medical Institute in Roanoke, had given himself up to the spirit of poetry, (while not so secretly playing cat’s cradle with his scrotum in the bathroom at break times!). He thought this way he might recall the lost spirit of youth, syphilitic or no.

He approached her with a cricket paddle as she recited a long poem about a quince bush. He stripped. Lifted both hands over his head, and…the brilliant gleam of an X-ACTO knife!

Fortunately, I was in the audience.

I upended the bottle of Seagram’s gin I always carried with me to poetry readings and cut off my penis with Kemal’s X-ACTO knife.

As the W.S. Merwin Club watched with mouths agape—and Kemal too—I threw my penis at the poet sympathizers. I counted to nine before introducing myself.

image: Tara Wray