At night, the salt and water comes in, the water and salt leave and the oysters stay behind. The salt marsh spreads from the mainland to the adjacent island close to my former home. This is an oyster farmers land.

Mid-day – it’s June – the sun beats down again on an old tired back. Mr. Yang has done this before. Feet sunken hunched low in the quagmire shadowed only by the weavings of his bucket-rimmed hat, his soiled calloused stubs reach under the steeped silted rock upon which he adds one more to a sack full of oysters to later be shucked.

Meanwhile,

Another Mr. Yang with a very different fate sits in the comfort of a first class jet. Mr. Yang has done this before. Sunken deep into a beige leather seat in the air conditioned cabin. Sipping a fine burgundy colored wine the attendant reminds him to buckle for landing. Adjusting his slippers, he stretches his neck and fingers a bit. Putting his things into his black leather bag he takes another drink and rubs out the sleep that had rested on his freshly shaven face as he takes a passing glance to the landscape below.

As he buckles the silver buckle the plane shadows the oyster farmers tired old back. Sweat and salt drip deep down into his glossed eyes as he lifts his head to the ominous roar of the dragon above.

In an odd and yet understandable way both Mr. Yang’s tighten their grip on their respective possessions.


post-script: Solomon, my former roommate told me something similar to this one day after he went running along the coast by our former house and I just couldn’t forget it . . . thanks.

A KFC Menu Poem

February 8, 2011

pre-note: many months ago I scratched this on a menu at KFC . . . I just found it tucked away in a notebook. Enjoy!

Do nothing
To stop
ambition
Economy
Is most
important
for
Capital
Skills
Talents
Use
Them all
to
Get ahead
Work
Go, go

Desire
Lost in the
Cold
Burning from
Inside
Flash
Bang away
Sounds
flare
Fragile
People are
Conveyor belt
Living
Compartments are
Disjointed
Segmented
Apart
Connected
Not
Moment by
Moment
Event maybe
Leisure maybe
Today a
Little more
Creativity class
Demand
Some
Free talk
Harmonious
Society
Steps
Punches card to
Meaning
Lost in the
Cycle
No, no
Meaning
Abused
Tangled
Living
Pointless
Aimless
Better have
More
Aim
Than the best
Man
Moving
Headlong
To gain
BMW’s a
Symbol
Status
Face
Affirmation
Junky
Shows up
Don’t
Make
a mistake
Don’t
Lose

Do I love?
No, no
no
Never
Go Forward.
Can we
Riot?
No, no
no
Never
Shut your
Damn
Mouth
Hush
Remember
You’re
Happy Everyday
Progress
Ahead
Look at us
Loudest yelling
Man with
Microphone
Clutching
Tension
Suppressed
Bitter
Anger
Explodes
Chao
It’s the way
Up
Don’t
Question

Contemplate?
Think?
No, No
Never
Forward March
Onward
dammit
Go
Money
Get more
Move up
Climb
Higher
Mind
Turn off
Go, Go
Go
Shake
Hands
Move up
Rattle more
Chain

Smoke
Drink
Cheers
Money
Money
Give me
Take Me
Fast
Forward
to it
Go
Drink
Smoke
Overflowing
Wallet
Spills
Empty
Living

Give nothing back
Take and keep
Grandma
was poor
Don’t
Be
Like
Grandma
Poverty is
Scary
To us
Go, go

Can I
Get someone
to
Judge me
Grade me
Affirm me
And
Or
Talk to me
Skin
Deep
Breath
No, No
Robots
Forward march
Don’t
Stand in line
Waiters get
Served last
Don’t be
Be
The same
Set apart
On
Top

Remember
A Mao
Saved
Is a Mao
more
To busy
Tomorrow
I’ll dig
For bones
Answers
Today
Show me more
Money
now
Move out
Of poverty
Ignore it
Go, go
Go
Forward
Don’t stop
Halt
Never
Stop
Onward
Up, up
Up
Dammit
Move out
Nothing
stops
Progress

The Music Box

February 7, 2011

There is nothing comparable in the history of the world to the cultural gap between the young and old in China today.

Tonight Qian Yu, one of my very attractive neighbors, sent me a message and invited me to KTV (karaoke). When a beautiful girl asks you to do something, you (I) usually do it. So I flagged down a taxi and showed the driver the address to The Music Box. Upon arrival I found room 119, opened the door, and saw something very strange. A bit odd. I saw Qian Yu’s parents (they were in town visiting for the Chinese New Year). Mother and Father sitting down, arms folded in silent observation of all this “new stuff.” They were out of place: shiny marble floors, dancing strobe lights, blaring speakers, erotic music videos, and now me, an outsider.

I greeted them. They grinned. I sat next to Qian Yu. They smiled.

Qian Yu sang a song. She’s a good singer. Not knowing the words, I watched onscreen as a fresh-faced Japanese love story unfolded. We clapped. Qian Yu smiled.

After I successfully deflected their attempts to hand me the microphone, on the grounds of ignorance, Qian Yu gracefully walked over and handpicked a song for her mother to sing. This song was a bit rigid, it came from another place, a different time. The luster was gone. Again without knowing the words, I watched the video unfold. It featured Chinese children waving Chinese flags, snapshots of Chairmen Mao and historic sites like The Great Wall. Mother knew every word. It was more propaganda than art (granted Qian Yu’s Japanese love story was more emotion than art, but that’s beside the point).

Mother finished. We clapped. Mother smiled.

They persisted so I went to pick a song. I searched the English menu. Qian Yu so graciously piped in and suggested Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” so I went with that. I knew what I thought of their videos; now I wondered what they thought of mine. Lady Gaga is a crass and capricious individual. She’s very different from the banality of patriotism. I was certain that when the words “I want your psycho, your vertical stick” came out of my mouth, Alpha-Centauri would explode, rendering our world moot. The only thing salvaging imminent apocalypse this time was the blessed confusion of Babel . . . thank God.

I finished. They clapped. I smiled.

After Qian Yu sang another song she playfully said it was hot so she took off her long over coat which revealed a black halter-top of sorts featuring swan feathers with hot pink tights hugging her legs running into magenta colored high-heel shoes (for the record it actually didn’t look as ridiculous as it sounds). Upon revealing her dainty shoulders, I watched her mom’s confused and nervous gaze at her singing daughter’s skin. She really didn’t know what to think of it all. The skin. The colors. The feathers. The shoes. Was this her daughter? Mom was wearing a dull colored wool overcoat with plain black pants awkwardly squeezing against the top of her boxy shaped black shoes. Daughter’s hair was long flowing and vibrant mother’s hair was wiry short and grey. The Music Box kept humming. We kept smiling and clapping.

You’ll be glad to know that I finished the evening off with a little evangelism and a lot more confusion. I selected Kanye West’s video “Jesus Walks.”