Title Our Authors

Irresistible Snake Oil

By Lee Nelson

It may have worked somewhere

but it didn't work here

the random ostrich farms

of Upstate New York.

Every long work day

of my young poor life

I'd drive the Thruway

and there they'd be

to the left in the morning

and the right in the evening

giant zooming ostriches

in the lush fenced distance

a sight you refused to believe

no matter how many times

they compelled you

and rubbernecked your face.


They made as much sense

as casually quarantined aliens

and their inappropriate presence

really began to bother me.

I decided there was only one solution.

I had to eat them.

The trespassing ostrich had to know

what the turkey and the duck

and the chicken already knew.

I had to eat them.

How else in the world to welcome

the new kid in town?


And it turns out eating them

was what we were supposed to do.

These left over dinosaurs

were being bred for consumption

and when I realized this

I got very excited.

Somehow my empty wallet

and the credit card companies

and my equally broke ex-wife

had to understand

the same as my children understood

they'd never see Disney in their lives.


But they could have ostrich


if only I could find this new strange

delicacy however it was offered

and guess who had ostrich first.


The Mennonites had them

fat juicy plump round

ostrich burgers

right in their non-rustic

Mennonite coolers

in their non-rustic

Mennonite markets

with the brand new jet black

Mennonite Ford pickup trucks

parked to the side

and a plain Mennonite man

in a black hat

even tried to convince me

they were kosher

as if I gave a shit

as I opened my barren wallet.

The whole world was more

full of shit than ever

and I was ravenously blind to it

with a half dozen fat dead

Mennonite ostrich chunks

slapped on the passenger seat

of the corpse of my Taurus

the most rustic relic

in the entire Mennonite market

the only object I owned

that my ex-wife

never threatened to take from me

including my children

the same children

I wouldn't tell

jack shit

until they took a bite

but the boy was on to me.


He stared at the burger

and had a lot of questions

while the girl was too busy

with the simple excitements

of squeezing mustard

and ketchup bottles


a newly conquered grace

of fine motor skill

and then observing me

devouring fat ostrich

with two hands of bun and

original game to these parts

before following suit

with her tiny hands and teeth.


Her eyes were wide

and her cheeks were full

as she chewed ostrich

with all the blind trust

of a nun.

I kissed her blond locks

and wiped her face of

orange ketchup/mustard

something that was as weird at the moment

as ostriches in New York State

and bullshit enterprising Mennonites

who were versed in multiple religions

and I said

"That's my girl."


But the boy was smart enough to know

that all of it

everything was just too

fucking weird

and he stared at his burger

and his sister and dad

joyously eating suspect burgers

and was probably about to call


when I said

"It's ostrich.  It's really good.

Eat it."





"The Mennonites are raising them."


"The pilgrim people we drive by in the country."

"They have ostriches?"



"I don't know.

Maybe they always had them

and we never noticed."

"That doesn't make sense."

 "I agree."

"And now we just eat ostrich?"

"Sure.  Why not?  Your sister likes them.

So do I.  Eat your ostrich.  It's good."

"It doesn't sound good."


He was right.

The word ostrich

is as awkward as the ostrich itself.

Where did the word ever come from?

Maybe the Mennonites could teach us Latin.


"The popsicles and ice cream in the freezer

say eat the ostrich. 

So do I.

Eat the ostrich."


He looked at me with all the questions

I should've had for the Mennonites

and raised the burger to his mouth

and took a bite. 

"That's my boy,"

I thought loudly.


He took a few good bites

but stuck to the fries.

The girl's plate was empty.

I ate three and thought

of the ostriches

off the Thruway.


And then we had ice cream

and watched cartoons

before I gave the girl a bath

and the boy showered

and the next morning began

with my daughter drawing ostriches

with crayons and construction paper

and my son insisting to witness the ostriches

in his neighborhood.

Ostriches do not live with cows and pigs

he said.


I agreed.

Old McDonald never had shit

on an ostrich.


He required proof

so we left in my moving violation

Taurus to trespass the prosperous

Mennonite ostrich slaughter farms.

We brought stale Wonderbread

and a few CapriSuns

and were about to feed

condemned dinosaurs

some extra niacin

when we soundly discovered

in some fashion

of a mellowed domestic

D Day

that ostriches are indeed

a vehemently aggressive form

of leftover dinosaurs

that hiss and spit and

spread six foot wings

with all the function of wisdom teeth

and screech at terrified children

and not so stoic adults

like post-apocalyptic monster geese.


The boy was in the shit box Taurus

before I had the girl in my arms.

He was even buckled in

when a jet black Ford pickup truck

flattened the curves of the dirt road

with all the major league of

The General Lee

pluming dirt dust in a grand fishtail

and a particularly grizzled

plain Mennonite

fingered activated the power window

and said




I'd never seen an angry Mennonite before,

so I dismissed the opportunity

for a Latin lesson

and drove my traumatized children home

in more fear of them telling their mother

than I'll ever have

for leftover dinosaurs and bullshit



The rest of the day was quite quiet.

I had to convince my children to move.

It took a lot

but I got them to play in the sprinkler

and we had breakfast for dinner.

Pancakes pair terribly

with nerves and Budweiser.


We never ate ostrich again

and for all the heinous experience

of my nuclear family

I gather nobody else did either.


Just like Woolworth and McCurdy's

and roast mutton

the ostriches simply vaporized 

and gave me one less reason

to rubberneck my face

on the Thruway

but to this day

I'm never at a loss

for a seemingly prosperous



But I won't lie.

I've always since longed for more ostrich

and I can even afford such things as ostrich now


and once upon a time between now

and the leftover dinosaurs

my ex-wife managed a trip for my kids

to Disney.

Of course she did.

Somehow ostrich burgers

had to be outdone.


And a while back I learned

of a diner in San Francisco

that's all about ostrich

and I understand

for breakfast they'll serve you

a dinner plate sized

ostrich egg

with a lot of ostrich bacon

and toast

and they better not skimp out

on that god damn toast


because the egg is only served sunny side up

because a glorious yellow yolk

the size of a softball

in a big cloud of pancake thick egg white

cannot be aesthetically denied.


And try flipping that shit anyway.


And I'm pretty sure Mennonites

don't own this joint

and I've always wanted to see

the west coast

and I'm  absolutely certain that

nobody ever gets to

trespass an ostrich farm at Disney


so when I go eat this ostrich egg

in San Francisco

I have every intention

of flying my grown children in

for the event


but this might require some convincing.

A sunny getaway I've always owed them

for a post-traumatic group therapy session

any psychologist would approve of?

I think the idea has merit


and for the love of God

have you ever seen

a fried

sunny side

ostrich egg

in your first world life??


It's a dinosaur egg.

Google it.

That's what it is.


I don't know how anyone in the world

wouldn't want to eat a dinosaur egg.


I'll always call bullshit

on the Mennonites.

Their taxes have to be

as full of shit as the churches

if you ask me

but I can't lie.

I sure do miss

the ostrich farms

of Upstate New York.







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