First there is the outsider.
Then there is a second stranger – less
Apart from the first, but still.
Then there is the third stranger,
Who is now, in fact, inside something,
Although something a little less definable.
Finally we all move together
In a kind of sanctuary,
Until someone decides to leave.
And the thorny birds smooth their purple plumage
In the highest branches of the flamboyants.
Bumble bee among flowering ivy
Draped over the crumbling stone wall.
The bells testify, not as witnesses to indict you
But as guides and mothers calling you to be
Their children. Helicopters fly
Upstream in formation – if two of something
You could say he is in training. So
A pleasant realignment of fireboats
At the edge of the sea where, it seems,
All things have their origin. The cats are sleeping
In the chophouse where the lima beans
Boil in a kettle on a hotplate. You could
Put it all in a book and call it “Things
What happened to me, or what I did,
Or that I invented, or that I dreamed of, etc.
If everything went as planned, no one could
To tell which was which, let alone you.
Now it’s time to take the train to the city center,
Have pho at Bo Ky, fish ball soup,
Half country duck: Chinese cuisine,
one of the pleasures of city life.
Then you can walk down Grand Street, or Pell,
Past Go Believe Bakery, past Toy Apple
Beauty, in front of a giant squid on ice and its trainer,
Past reflexology charts, and from there
Towards the New Kam Man grocery store, rows of boxes
From Sea Dyke and Golden Sail
Jasmine and oolong tea and pu-erh.
And don’t forget the oversized pots of loose tea,
Silver-tipped crushed dark purple leaves
Distant provinces. You might be inclined
To call me a tourist, okay, I’m a tourist.
Never stop being a here
In New York, even on your own street,
Even in your bedroom with its weird tchotchkes
And gadgets, no less strange than the swept away mist
Humpbacked green landforms surround you in Yangshuo.
You can take a ride on a bamboo raft in their shadow
On the river that winds between them – a woman
In a wedding dress, it’s entering green water,
Then, helped back onto the pier by her fiancé,
As their photographer captures the meeting
On dry land. Her dress is wet,
But she smiles. A little upstream
Other couples do it too.
They themselves are tourists,
Visiting distant towns and cities
From Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
I’m in one now, sleeping on the street
Of the Hudson River, where the men fish,
Smoking weed, growing rhubarb and big sunflowers
On the narrow stretch of land between the train tracks
And the shore. It’s beautiful and dark,
And in my room, an electric blanket
Is wrapped around me, humming softly.