The Palate Cleanser

“A Nice Organic Tomato”
by Karl Koweski

“I’m glad you were able to come out and visit me at the compound,” Cuntly said, raising his wine glass in a toast.

Yoshi McPish raised his own glass in salute.  “Thank you for inviting me.  It’s not every day two of the world’s greatest poets can share a ten year-old Bordeaux in the same kitchen.  You’d have to go back to the mid-nineteenth century to find…”

“Mmmmmm,” Cuntly cut in, swallowing the wine he’d rolled in his mouth for the last two and a half sentences.  “Can you detect the hint of chocolate and wild berries?”

“Indeed I can.” Yoshi stuck his nose in and swirled the glass a bit too vehemently, getting a nostril full of Bordeaux for his trouble.  He hoped Cuntly didn’t notice.  He’d done a lot of ass-kissing to replace BJ as Cuntly’s number one lackey.

Cuntly did notice, however, but hid his sneer of contempt behind his hand.  The poor bastard wouldn’t know the difference between a bottle of pinot noir from a bottle of Listerine without Cuntly’s guiding hand.  Nonetheless, without the talented wannabes like Yoshi and BJ in his corner he wouldn’t have much of an audience at all.  The small press mouth-breathers seemed to rally around their own worthless peers.  Mediocrity seeking out mediocrity.

“You know what would make this evening complete?” Cuntly asked.

“Writing a poem together about the absurdity of existence in such a futile world,” was Yoshi’s guess.

“I was thinking about a tasty tomato sandwich.  With locally grown organic tomatoes so fresh and juicy, simply biting into the ripe flesh will cause one to weep.  On two slices of bread baked fresh with natural ingredients by my very own life partner.”

“Speaking of which, where is Cath?”

“Oh, she’s visiting with her cousin, Etienne, visiting from France.  He’s showing her how to construct some all natural French cuisine for when we open up our all organic restaurant “The Pompous Ass.”

“Teaching her recipes at 9:30 at night?  Hmmm.”

“That late?  Hot damn!  The organic food market closes at ten and my crisper is devoid of tasty locally grown tomatoes.”

“Well, we can wait…”

“Nonsense.”  I have a yearning for that fruit so often mistaken for a vegetable by the base plebeians.  Quickly, Yoshi. To the poet mobile.”

Cuntly made it a point to play some Thelonious Monk on the Honda’s CD player, just to show off his unassailable taste in great music.  Of course, Yoshi knew Cuntly possessed impeccable taste in music because Cuntly mentioned it in every telephone conversation, every email sent, every blog posted.  What Yoshi wanted to do was talk shop.  In order to do this he had to shout above the glorious cacophony as Cuntly guided the subcompact down the Georgia back roads.

“The PPP is really on fire, now!” Yoshi beamed.  “Almost three hundred finds in a little over a year and a half.”

“Yeah, it’s fantastic,” Cuntly grumbled.

“It’s certainly benefitted me.  My newest chapbook “Bleeding Religious Iconography Marks the Pretentious Poet’s Stigmata” is coming out from The Dog-Faced Gremlin Press.  How cool is that?  It’s number 87 in their line.  You know a press is committed to excellence when it puts out 87 chapbooks in three years.”

“Yeah.”  The press was rubbish.  Cuntly allowed the press to publish a small collection of his lesser works as a sign of his benevolence.  Cuntly knew his graciousness allowed the dimmer lights of the PPP inner circle to use the DFG Press as a platform for their own inferior work.

“It’s too bad Walt Whitman isn’t alive,” Yoshi said.  “He’d totally want to be a PPP member.”

Cuntly smiled, thin-lipped.  Surely Yoshi realized by now he sat next to the modern day incarnation of Whitman.  A true poet of the people, a muse-inspired chronicler of the blue collar experience, better than all the other sad sacks who wrote working man poems because Cuntly’s poems actually came from the gut whereas everyone else just wrote bullshit.

“Yep,” Yoshi continued.  “Any day now, someone like Quentin Tarantino will find a PPP broadside, maybe one of your finely-crafted gem-like poems, Cuntly, and we’ll all get famous.”

Cuntly refrained from commenting.  This putz was almost as delusional as BJ.  But at least BJ had enough sense to drop the pen when he realized his poetry was shit.  Yoshi was they type of person who would keep writing garbage with fifty word titles through to Armageddon.  Did he not comprehend Cuntly was all ready famous?  That his blog got three hundred hits a month!

Cuntly needed a tomato, goddammit.  A ripe, juicy organically grown, locally cultivated tomato that could make a sensitive man weep just biting into it.  And he wouldn’t have to wait much longer.  With three minutes to spare, he pulled into the parking lot of the Fresh Market.

“They still open?” Yoshi asked, eyeballing the rent-a-cop standing outside the door.

“You kidding?” Cuntly asked stepping out of his Honda.  “I’m in here so much I practically own the store.”

Cuntly skipped the ten feet to the store’s entrance, mouth all ready watering.  His dick was hard just thinking about financially supporting the area’s farmers.  If only they could place the PPP poetry broadsides in crates of fruits and vegetables for the health-conscious to find.  How brilliant would it be – feeding the body with fresh, uncompromised food and feeding the mind with raw, unfiltered poetry.  Yoshi would spontaneously masturbate with joy to hear such a provocative idea.

Before he could explain his Muse-inspired vision to Yoshi, however, the security guard stopped him at the door.

“Sorry,” he said, “the Fresh Market’s closed.”

Cuntly’s vision instantly went tomato red.

“Closed?  Closed?  Are you out of your mind?”

The security guard raised an eyebrow.  “No.  It’s ten o’clock.  The Fresh Market closes at ten.”

“Don’t tell me what time this place closes!  I’ve been shopping here for three years.  My life partner and I spend thousands of dollars a year here.  I know the stock boys on a first name basis.”

“That may be.  But it’s still closed.”

Cuntly looked at the man’s name plate.  Lewandowski.  Another goddam Polack.

Cuntly withdrew his cell phone.  The digital numbers glinted 9:58.  “Look at this,” Cuntly said.  “I’ve got two minutes.  All I want to do is show my friend here how delectably tasty the Fresh Market’s organically grown, locally cultivated tomatoes are.”

Lewandowski nodded.  “I know.  You just want to go in for tomatoes.  Then, before you know it, you’re picking up bean sprouts and indian corn, and it’s five after ten and all those nice folks you know on a first name basis are pissed at me for letting your dumb ass in.”

“Don’t you know who I am, you fascist prick?”

“Yeah.  You’re about two seconds away from getting my big stick knocked upside your head.”

“No!  Wrong!  I’m Cuntly Cunani!  I’ve had poems published in the New York Quarterly!  I’m a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee.  And I assure you, I will have my organically grown, locally cultivated tomato.”

“Not from here, you won’t.  However, there’s a Wal-Mart down the street.  I hear they welcome multiple Pushcart Prize nominees with open arms.”

“Fuck Wal-Mart and their rock hard Chinese tomatoes.  And fuck you… you… you Nazi.  There I said it.  Nazi.”


“Yeah.  You think that rent-a-cop badge and that Batman utility belt makes you better than the little poets running around wishing to eat something that hasn’t been contaminated with society’s poisons.  But it don’t.  I see a time in the not-so-distant future where, thanks to the diligence of the operatives of the Poetry Placement Program, the poets on the underbelly of this fucked-up, Orwellian society will finally be placed on pedestals and given the respect and admiration they so rightfully deserve  Except the poets who publish at Zygote.  They deserve nothing but scorn and derision.”

A Fresh Market employee who Cuntly recognized as Lance, bassist for the local folk band Poot n’ Toot walked up to the door.  Finally, Cuntly thought, someone has heeded my call to arms against rent-a-cop tyranny.  Now Yoshi will know the mind-numbing goodness that is a ripe, red, organically grown, locally cultivated tomato.

Lance locked the door, turned around, and walked away.

Five seconds later, the Fresh Market sign blinked off.

Lewandowski glanced at his watch.  “Well, boys, it looks like my day is done.  You two have fun fondling each other’s ding dongs.”

The rent-a-cop walked across the parking lot to his big, ugly, fuel inefficient 1979 Ford Bronco.  When the engine rumbled to life, gas pumps as far away as Cleveland shook.  Lewandowski tipped a wave as he roared past Cuntly’s Honda.

Cuntly knocked on the Fresh Market’s front door but was roundly ignored, even when he called out his own righteous name several times.  No one could be bothered so much as to say “we’re closed.”

Back in the Honda, Yoshi said “that was awesome the way you stood up to that fascist pig.  When you cursed him like that my genitals tingled.”

Cuntly hunched over the steering wheel, sneering at the Wal-Mart as they zipped by.

“I’m gonna immortalize this scene in a poem,” Yoshi said.

“Shut the fuck up, Yoshi.”

“I think I shall title it “the last poet stands upright beneath the pedantic tyranny and egregious egomania of the Fresh Market security guard for the poetic flavor of a juicy organically grown, locally cultivated, sun-kissed tomato.”

“Just shut the fuck up, Yoshi.”

Cuntly couldn’t wait to return home and blog about this latest outrage.  In the golden days before the Bush white house, he would have had his tomato.  Several tomatoes.  Lettuce, cucumbers, olives, mushrooms.  A veritable salad without fear of police intervention.  He’d have his day though.  And it would start tomorrow with a phone call to the Fresh Market management. He’d give them one shot at a sincere apology.  Otherwise they would have to go without the patronage of one multiple Pushcart Prize nominated poet.  They might as well keep the doors locked forever after that.



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