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Lament of the Ex-Encyclopedia Salesman with a Pretty Thai Lady on His Arm
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Lament of the Ex-Encyclopedia Salesman with a Pretty Thai Lady on His Arm

I woke & my fingernails were long. Where I movedI drew blood. She, descendent of opium fields,chose me. In this intermezzo of luckI am ridiculous. Her digital photos reveal me:pants tucked in high over my gut, staring outat morning beach umbrellas past a big red nose,eyes shocked as if readjusting to bad news.While dancing I step on her foot & she laughs.Her poised look asks, “Surprised I try to please,farang?” My capacity to worship endures.My capacity to endure is played out. I tell herI don’t like heels. Don’t they make it hard to walkon sand? She winks. She reveals little. Tipsyon Jell-O spritzers, she let it slip that as a kid shehad a pet bunny that chased trucks. Whydid her bunny do that? So much is inconceivable,sunstruck on our backs under a banyan treethat eddies like a river but slower than time,like Paganini violins. Tar coats my throat& I stare at stars—no, between—at blacknessdeclared unmanifest, unthinkable, immutable.The moth of night eats the linen sky. Timesiphons love. Her hand is small & brown in mine. [End Page 39]

John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, The Atlanta Review, and The Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology. His second collection, Hummingbird (Palimpsest Press, 2012) was a finalist for the 2013 Raymond Souster Award. He lives in Hong Kong and teaches creative writing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.