by Mitchell Grabois

A cat fight
between a Rumanian bleached blonde
and a Bulgarian brunette
breaks out over the use of the copy machine

Cheryl, a bystander
walks away
decides to
quit her job
get away from these crazy bitches
hitchhike up the coast and
become homeless

First stop, the Palace of Split Pea Soup
99 cents
for a thick, steaming bowl, a slice of bread
a glass of sour white wine

The Bulgarian grabs the Rumanian by
her thick, parched hair
and bashes her head against the top of the

Inside, the windows are fogged with soup steam
Outside the fog is thick
the ocean invisible
the sound of the waves persistent

Eastern European women, thinks Cheryl,
raising a spoon of split pea goodness to her mouth
and blowing on it,
they grew up under statues of blocky, bloody commissars
Their bodies are made of coal
and their heads held together with hair spray

Abandoned factories in the US and the USSR
call to each other

I hate Rumanians, says the Bulgarian

Cheryl has a second bowl of split pea soup
It’s all-you-can-eat
I can put on forty pounds of fat
from split pea soup alone, she thinks
green, green fat
She spreads a slab of butter on another piece of bread
I’ll be ready for winter