Christopher Jon Heuer


Listen to Audio Version read by Sean Mahoney.

Enormous, they bobbed overhead, looking down
with impassive globs for eyes, each skyscraper
squished in a tentacle. The Giant Space Octopi
would have made the front page of the Times
had the entire staff not been slurped up—
even Tina Fey's latest essay in the New Yorker
was bumped but she didn't complain
because everyone at SNL was dead
(along with everyone at the New Yorker)

and so there was no incoming information whatsoever,
putting hearing people right down there
with deaf people for once, and when Big Momma
Octopus (dubbed so by the chewed-on, oily remnants
of the US Army) sucked several power lines
through the oral— possibly doubling as anal— opening
in its underside like so much lightning rod spaghetti,
killing power all the way to Rochester,
deaf people, perhaps inoculated

by decades of sporadic closed caption access,
adjusted to the falling darkness across the sky
and plasma screens everywhere far faster
than anyone else. They started gathering together
in their almost-extinct socialization clubs
(relics of the 19th and early 20ths century…
Facebook served the same function, really),
fingerspelling into each others' palms
once the emergency camping candles wore down

and the bong hits no longer illuminated the signer.
Most wanted to go to war immediately,
as anyone who suggested that the manipulation
of human digits might be akin to octopi gesticulation
(therefore making extra-solar interspecies
communication possible) was immediately
and forcibly volunteered to conduct exactly this
experiment and predictably never seen again.
Alas most Deaf clubs possessed little weaponry

capable of dislodging a skyscraper-squishing
tentacle, let alone Big Momma from her oral—
possibly anal— ultimate vibrator power lines.
A search of the premises produced
a gasless chainsaw for clearing the birches out back
and a Kappa Gamma broadsword actually
made of tin. Someone else found a can of Raid
and that was pretty much it. But suddenly
one of the extra-solar interspecies communication

experimenters returned, covered in slime
and pink chunks that revealed themselves to be
bits of imploded Space Octopi intestine. Evidently
the aliens could not mentally process
the concept of linguistic fluidity in knuckled-based
Earthcreatures. Trying caused them to explode!
You just needed to get them to look at you.
So all of the Gallaudet cheerleaders
were gathered up and re-trained

(several were septuagenarians and dealing
with arthritis) to be human catapults. Hordes
of deaf people, using NTID as a staging area,
descended on New York City. By this time
word had spread amongst the Giant
Space Octopi, who frantically tried
to dislodge themselves from the skyscrapers
at their approach, and flee back to the mother-ships.
But already people were climbing to the rooftops

waving and finger-spelling away. Even the
surviving hearing people (who had caught on
by now) were waving their frozen "I Love You's"
in the air (these were cut down quickly by
unexploded Space Octopi Death Rays). Chunks
of intestine were dripping off everything. And finally
the mother-ships left, radioing ahead
their shameful defeat, and all deaf people
everywhere were henceforth worshipped

as Earth-saving deities. Closed-captioning
was then and there made open forevermore.
Baby Signs stock spurred an immediate American
financial recovery (China fell once again
to the world's third largest economy—
the USA took up both the first and second slots).
Gallaudet cheerleaders were entombed
in bronze. Their statues, defiant, fingers adorned
with heroic, flapping ribbons, now encircle Central Park.

* * *


Listen to Audio Version read by Sean Mahoney.

Scissors for shaping.
Paper doll hands clutched
in Scotch tape bondage.
A pencil stab
in each heart, drawing

the eyes of the holder
to those locations.

Cotton plugs in the holes.
White heads flat, eyeless.
Pinprick red smiles
for the unnerved.

Eyelash of pubic hair.
A foot snipped off
for variety.
Cut now through the waist,
the wrist, pieces falling.

Shin below the knee,
neck below the face.
On the rug: remains.

There when you kneel
down, sweep up,
walk away.

Parts for the garbage.


Christopher Jon Heuer is the author of Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution and All Your Parts Intact: Poems. He is a professor of English at Gallaudet University and has published short stories and poems in several magazines and anthologies. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Amy and son Jack.