Marcus had to piss.

It was poetry night at the Salty Nut. Everyone was excited, except for the Baristas. The Baristas didn’t give a shit.

Alistair was on stage reading a poem about writing poems. It was the same poem he read every night since 1993.

“God’s face is a Zeitgeist handjob! All the presidents know!!  AAAAAAAAAALLLL THE WHITE MEN KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW...!!!”

Marcus, like everyone else, was pretending to understand. The whole audience nodding their heads and passively groaning like agreeable zombies.

Ed was hosting tonight. Ed always let his friends read longer than five minutes. Ed had a lot of friends. Ed also liked to disregard the order people signed up and call on readers as he saw fit. Hence, Marcus’ problem. If he headed to the bathroom and his name was called he’d lose his turn. Worse yet, what if he missed someone read and they noticed he wasn’t in the crowd? The thought was too much for him.

Alistair finished his piece and stormed off the stage in a fake cry.

“Thank you, Alistair,” said Ed, curling his hair behind his ear. “Next, give a round of applause for...Eleanor!”

Eleanor was a retired librarian who dressed like Stevie Nicks and performed abstract animalistic poems that had lots of twirling and heavy eye contact.

Marcus wrote sad Haikus about Morrissey and really wanted people to like him. He started coming to the Salty Nut last July and was just starting to get noticed by the regulars. Marcus viewed them as the literary juggernauts of their generation. He truly believed that the Salty Nut with its hand-painted tables and chai stained floor was the epicenter of the next great literary movement.

Peter was an MFA student at Evenstone University and wouldn’t talk to you unless you liked Dylan Thomas. Concave Thought had dredlocks and came here to practice for the slams. All of Christine’s poems were about weird sex, which made sense because she laughed like a turtle orgasm. And as much as Marcus appreciated Andrew’s edgy use of racial epithets he needed to read fast or he was going to cry urine.

Twlelve minutes and much spinning after her name had been called Eleanor stumbled off stage.

“Up next, give it up for...Angus!!!”

Marcus was thinking about the water cooler bubbling at work.

“Next, Cornelia!”

His stomach perspiring pee due to Osmosis.

“Tony!” “Faustino!” “Emilia!”

The Nile, a firehose, those fish that spit at their prey.

“Marvin! Oh, I mean... Marcus!”

He leapt to the stage. Fumbling through his notebook, sweat dripping onto the paper, he suddenly froze, eyes gazing with fear into the hookah smoke haze, the crotch of his blue jeans ballooning into a dark flower.

“It’s too late!!! Oh God... IT”S TOO LATE!! NOOOOOO!!!” Marcus howled and ran out the door.

The audience sat, momentarily stunned into silence, then rose into the greatest standing ovation that the Salty Nut had ever seen.

Even the Baristas thought it was cool.