“Flexible Diet,” by Mark Jay Brewin, Jr.

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Flexible Diet

He spent the better part of a Thursday evening feeding chunks
of his pickle and cheese sandwich to an opossum that’d crawled
up next to the entrance of the new hot Yoga place. Its fur was
marbled like a tea egg. Its teeth could have easily excised a toe or
two. He thought of how his father lost his index and middle in a
winch accident, how funny it was that the meal he was tearing
apart and tossing to this rodent was something his old man
made for his school lunches when he was on day shift. How the
sweet gherkins were speared out of the jar with a paring knife.
How the thin, warty nubs looked like pruned off witch fingers.
But now he was ripping it to pieces and throwing it away to this
animal crouched beside a span of chain link. He was hungry. So
was the opossum that must have crawled out of its rain gutter to
pick over alley dumpsters. It smiled like a broken band-saw
blade. The grin reminded him of this big rabid mother and her
joeys that lived by the creek behind his house. Crick, not creek,
he thinks in his lost Jersey accent. “Only thing your uncle taught
me worth a damn,” his father explained. “Maybe he thought that
sandwich was how he’d make a ding in my universe.” He flung
the last of the crust to the opossum. “Although he fucked it up
by putting ham in his version.”

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Mark Jay Brewin, Jr., won the 2012 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize of the University of Utah Press for his first book manuscript, Scrap Iron . His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, New Madrid, The Hollins Critic, Copper Nickel, Southern Humanities Review, Poet Lore, North American Review, Greensboro Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the MFA program of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. You can read more of his work at his website: www.markjaybrewinjr.com.