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Padded Bars by Trina Stolec
published in Volume 6, Issue 1 on March 1st, 1999

They should have padded these bars
before they put me in this cage,
let the people walk by to gawk and stare,
use the right of
two cents admission paid
to point and laugh and jeer.

They should have added a place to hide.
A tiny box where I could be
free from exhibition,
safe from exploitation,
hidden from the piercing eyes,
    prodding fingers
        that slip through these bars,
    poke my flesh
        like the witch did to Hansel.

But I have no stick to fool them,
so I use my hands.
Savor the shock when they realize
this deformed creature does breathe,
this grotesque lump does move
    and grab
        and now
            has hold
                of them.

The crack of their digits would be
the sweetest melody composed.
And I would do it if I had the strength.
To break those needling fingers in two
would be orgasmic.
And to hell with the consequences I'd pay.
No price would be too high
to hear their screams of agony,
to pull them into this cell,
to sample them out for
    my cannibalistic nature.

But I don't have the power
to achieve ecstasy.
The only screams I hear are my own
    as foreign fingers pick my flesh.
The only breaking bone is my skull
    as I slam it against this escape-proof cage,
        cry arid tears,
        yell silent pleas,
        bleed polluted winds,
        dream sweet fantasies of
            a pure white sheet,
            black plastic bag,
            plain pine box.

Why can't they,
    at least,
pad these bars?

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