#35 on the menu sounded good,
though not pronouncable by my Minnesota tongue.
With a Thai accent, the waiter asked
how we’d like our food, mild, medium or hot.
My friends and my wife opted for mild but I chose hot;
I’d heard really hot peppers turn the key
that unlocks the endorphin cabinet,
and being a child of the >60s, I knew what was inside.
I chose boneless chicken, carrots cut to look like flowers,
green beans, and broccoli with mushrooms and rice
lightly sauteed to just beyond crunchy,
all sprinkled with red pepper flakes.
After the first forkfull, my tongue ignited, my lips kindled
and my face took on the color of a cayenne sunrise.
With the second taste, salt water,
the ocean we all carry inside our bodies,
reached high tide on my forehead.
Waves of sweat broke on the beach of my face.
I gulped ice water and beer, glass after glass, but the heat increased
as in between ice cubes I shoveled more delicious coal on the fire,
unable to stop until my stomach could hold no more
and I had to ask for a carry-out container.
After a night of flaming dreams,
I woke with my lips still atingle, my tongue crackling.
Gasping for cool air, I remembered the take-home box,
half ran to the kitchen for well water and ice,
filled a pitcher, placed it in the fridge,
salivating with anticipation of lunch
and another dose of #35.
©2012 This work is the property of the author.