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Derek Zoetewey
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Toad Soup
I finally decided
it was time to rein
my toad in,
as our lives wavered
between anger
and excess.
My toad, he makes me dinner
every night, and he says
insults are part of his process.

Last night:
crème brulée, sesame
seared tuna, and roasted
vegetables. He told me
he wanted to leave,
that I should appreciate
this last meal
before I am reduced
to TV dinners
and Stouffer’s lasagna.
I ate that meal

between tears, of course
it was good.
I wanted to tell my toad
to scare me again,
to tell me every bite
was salmonella
laced with cyanide.
Why? It’s about thrills,
about wanting to taste
death, feeling responsible
to say “no”
and continue living.

When my toad and I
lived in India, tigers
served us ice cream
from bad freezers.
The village had
lost power,
bacteria grew
in the melted ice cream,
and tourists,
not knowing the risk,
ate it, believing
refrozen ice-cream
an Indian delicacy.
And we would eat
our stomach’s worth, feel
it rip through our intestines
and sweat it out
through the night.
And I remember waking,

walking to the toilet
to the sound
of the muezzin
before sunrise,
to the contrasts
between orange
and black, my toad
hopping behind me.
I remember even then
wishing to throw him
through the window
to the dust
and clutter
of those roads,
holding myself back
to behold
those bulbous eyes
and their gleam
in the dark.

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