Michael Mlekoday


The Midwest is no place
to go vegan. Winter drains the color
from grocery stores, leaving only the pale of old
vampire movies. My tomatoes are Bela Lugosi.

My avocados are black and white
like films--outdated, probably racist.
When it storms, I forget how to play violin.
It's the horsehair, I think, what savagery.

The Roma tomato--the nomad, the eating
of blood, Transylvania. Every vampire
is Eastern European, the American phobia
of transubstantiation, the American phobia

of night. When I was a boy, my brother
convinced me vampires were living
in our baba's dining room. The chandelier
confirmed this for me, that baroque fire,

that Slavic artifact. How many bats
pursued it across the ocean?
We ate our final Easter supper there:
Dziadek forcing everybody to drink vinegar,

the ham's glaze shining under the light,
the licked-clean bone just hours away,
the long sleep approaching, the pallid
Mass, the embalmer, the absolute erasure

of blood.

Michael Mlekoday is a National Poetry Slam Champion and an MFA candidate at Indiana University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in MUZZLE Magazine, < kill author, Revolution House, and others. He has never seen the ocean.

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