“After the Hot Dog Eating Contest,” a Flavor Town USA poem by Avery Gregurich

Flavor Town USA: Avery Gregurich

After the Hot Dog Eating Contest
for Dean Young

I too have to start with a bite out of
the middle part, the place in the record that isn’t
music. Sweet drooling bits of black
vinyl back onto the platter of hot dogs, 
waiting, patient between Surf and Stillwell, 
Coney Island. How do you take your dog
to the vet without losing a piece of
your pride? Here’s treats! Here’s fireworks!
The neighbor set off a roll of blackcats
in the alleyway, failing to fully answer the
future of meat. This morning, he checked
the mail, bare pot-belly framed above
shift work denim. I’m small-town, again.
My Weber hasn’t rusted through, yet I accept 
when the woman we met at Bingo
offers us expired cat food. Woo-wee, I’m plum
stuffed with pride, this new living a banquet
of flag poles. In honoring the best wolf at this
year’s contest, we place a buckeye on the mantle, 
blessing what? The wood? Bless me, bless you, 
bless this red, white, and blue. What feat can I show you
next? With ten minutes, can you swallow your
wurst-boiled water enough to make it in time for the 
photo-op? My disposable camera is full already. 
It’s winding now, shimmying out old fishing tales I suppose 
you’ve heard. You and me, we’ve already won.
The emergency brake is a butcher’s knife.
This parking lot is empty.

Avery Gregurich is a writer living and working in Marengo, Iowa. He was raised next to the Mississippi River and has never strayed too far from it.

Image: forums.penny-arcade.com

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.