Postcards from the End of America

Featured Postcards: Wisconsin, Portland, Tri-Cities, Wolf Point and Williston.

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SUPPORT THIS PROJECT--Over 7,500 photos of Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Allentown, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Austin, Baltimore, Battle Mountain, Bellows Falls, Bensalem Township, Berkeley, Bethlehem, Bolivar, Boston, Bordentown, Boulder, Brooklawn (NJ), Buffalo, Burlington (NJ), Cambridge, Camden, Carbondale, Carmel, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Cherry Hill, Chester, Cheyenne, Chicago, Claymont (DE), Cleveland, Collingswood (NJ), Columbus, Daly City, Denver, Detroit, El Cerrito, El Paso, Emeryville, Ewing Township (NJ), Freemont, Gary, Glassboro, Glenside (PA), Gloucester, Haddonfield (NJ), Harpers Ferry, Harrisburg, Hoboken, Houston, Jersey City, Joliet, Kansas City (KS), Kansas City (MO), Kennewick, Knoxville, Lancaster, Langhorne, Laurel Springs (NJ), Levittown (PA), Lindenwold (NJ), Los Angeles, Marcus Hook, Media (PA), Milpitas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Newark, New Harmony, Normal, Norristown, North Charleston, Oakland, Omaha, Orlando, Overland Park, Palmyra (NJ), Pasco, Penndel, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Raleigh, Redwood City, Reno, Richmond, Richmond (CA), Riverside (NJ), Rutland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Bruno, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, San Xavier del Bac, Sausalito, Savannah, Scranton, Somerdale (NJ), South San Francisco, Springfield (IL), St. Louis, St. Paul, Steelton, Stratford (NJ), Taylor (PA), Trenton, Tucson, Union City (NJ), Ventnor, Vineland, Washington, West New York, Westmont (NJ), Wichita, Williston, Wilmington, Wolf Point, Woodbury (NJ) and Youngstown, etc.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'm going to give two readings in Iowa:

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POETRY READING
4:30PM, Wednesday, September 24th
Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall
Coe College

1220 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa



THE ART OF TRANSLATION: LINH DINH IN GRINNELL
(A reading of my poetry translations from the Vietnamese, plus some of my works that focus on language.)
8PM, Thursday, September 25th
Bucksbaum 131 - Faulconer Gallery
Grinnell College

1210 Park Street
Grinnell, Iowa




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[4:41AM outside The Gallery shopping mall]



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[4:48AM outside The Gallery shopping mall]



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Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

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* Thanks for a $50 donation from Damak, Nepal. Black White, Occupy and Postcards from the End of America PDFs have been sent!

* Thanks for a $30 donation from Kearney, Nebraska. BLACK WHITE and Postcards from the End of America have been sent! On my upcoming trip to Iowa, I'll also stop for a day in McCook, in western Nebraska, so I've been reading Willa Cather, whom I first encountered 30 years ago. She's another on our long list of underappreciated greats...

* Thanks for a $30 donation from a repeat donor in St. Augustine, FL!





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Deadly United States of Underwear

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[A print journal wants to publish some of my poems, so I've sent them this poem, among others, to consider. Should they decline it for whatever reason, it will reappear back here.]



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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James

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Even if this economy was gravy,
James would still be in deep shit.
At 57, he sleeps in a trailer in a
Camden junk yard. In exchange
For this rusty haven, plus sporadic
Cash and food, he’s the nightwatchman,
A slurry backup to the crazed bulldog.
The trailer has no water or electricity.
Each month, James gets 140 bucks
In welfare, plus 200 in food stamps,
Which he sells for $100 cash. Most
Of his meals are taken at soup kitchens.

Born in Camden, James has spent most
Of his life in Millville, NJ, the home of
Mike Trout, the 150-million-dollar slugger.
James has been to California and even Alaska,
But never out of the country. At 16, James
Fell in love with Linda, 14, and they had sex,
But they would not become husband and wife
Until 11 years later. They had twin girls, then
A girl and a boy, but the marriage

Didn’t even last five years. A lifelong drunk,
James just drifted away, but each time
He showed up again, Linda would let him in,
Even after she had a new man. Sometimes
James wouldn’t leave for two weeks. “I got along
Good with her boyfriend. I would introduce
Them to people as, ‘This is my wife, and
This is her boyfriend.’” James spent decades

Working as a carpenter. He built houses.
Three years ago, Linda committed suicide
By swallowing a bottle of pills. Jame’s children
All live near Scranton but won’t talk to him.
He has never seen his seven grandchildren.

Five years ago, James took some vodka and crack
To this woman’s house, “I was trying to
Get some pussy, you know, and we were
Partying over at her place, but I passed out.
When I got up, I noticed that my wallet wasn’t
In my pocket, but sitting on this counter. When
I opened it, my money was all gone! I had
Six hundred bucks, man, but it was all gone!

“She denied she had anything to do with it, so
I said, ‘If you don’t give me back my money, bitch!
I’m going to burn this place down!’ She wouldn't,
So I went home and got a container of gasoline,
Returned and poured it on her trailer. I wasn't
Going to light it, I was just trying to scare her,
But she called 911. That’s how I went to jail.
I plea bargained for five years and ended up
Serving four. I had never been homeless until
I got out of jail.” While James was locked up,

His mother, a brother and Linda died,
But he didn’t go to any of the funerals,
Since it’d have cost him 500 bucks
To be released each time, and he would have
To show up in handcuffs and shackles. “I didn't
Want to see my ma in a box anyway. My brother
Said she didn’t even look like herself. She was
All bloated. I prefer to remember her sitting
At the kitchen table, reading her book.
That’s how I still see her.” This day,

James trekked across the Ben Franklin Bridge
To panhandle in Philadelphia, and that’s how
I met him. James smiled, “Some people collect
Coins, others stamps. I collect jokes.” He told me
Several unlaughable tales, including one about
A rueful Italian who’s selling a blind horse.
His honest pitch, “He not looking so good.”

I asked James if he had a photo of Linda,
And he said no, “It would make me cry
To look at her face.” I said Linda means
“Pretty” in Spanish, and James said the only
Spanish he knew was, “Te quiero mucho!”

James has seven siblings, all brothers,
But three have died. A brother offered
To take him in if he’d sober up, but
James declined. This brother is also
Trying to quit alcohol. James has owned
Seven cars, but lost his last license due
To a DUI conviction. Female homeless
Drug addicts will offer sex for $20, even 10,
But fearing diseases, James is not tempted.

James doesn’t have a woman now, “Because
I have nothing. I have nothing to offer a woman.
I take it one day at a time. At night,
I thank God for having given me a good day.
In the morning, I thank God for another day.
I thank him during the day too. I thank God.”




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Monday, September 8, 2014

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bob

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“I was born in Media, PA. I was
A carpenter, then a caddy. I’d make
Up to 125 bucks for four hours of work.
These rich guys would buy me a beer
At the halfway house. That’s a place
To relax, just after the 9th hole, not a
Home for recovering junkies, drunks
Or criminals just sprung from prison. I

Know about that kind, too, for I simply
Love alcohol. First thing in the morning.
At 7 o’clock, I’ve got to have my drink.
I was also on crack for about five years,
And I’ve been on the streets for ten years,

In Atlantic City and Philly. I’ve been
Jumped about ten times. The back of my head
Is stapled. It’s these black kids, about 15, 16,
They’d just hit you for no reason. Or they’d be
Talking to you, and suddenly they’d hit you.

I don’t know where all that anger is coming from,
But I stay away from all black neighborhoods now.
I try not to wander from Center City. Black women,
Especially the older ones, would give me money
Or food. They take care of me. I have

A 15-year-old daughter with a black girlfriend.
I was with Diane for five years. That’s
My longest relationship ever. I haven’t
Seen Diane in years, and I don’t even
Know my daughter’s name. Never seen her.
She hates me, probably. I’m sure she does.

I’ve been in jail for vagrancy and
Public drunkeness, nothing violent.
I would never hurt anybody. I’m just
A friendly guy. When I was a kid,
My mom and dad hit me a lot, though.
My mom is still in Media, but I won’t
Go see her. My dad is dead. Just last week,

I asked this guy for a quarter, and this man,
Who was really intelligent looking, you know,
And an office type. He said, ‘Let me go
To the ATM,’ and I thought, ‘Shit, man,
Why is he going to the ATM for a quarter?’
But then he returned and gave me
200 bucks! I couldn’t fuckin’ believe it!
I’m still spending it. When I can't afford gin,

I drink mouthwash. The hardest part is
Getting that shit down, because it is nasty.
It says so right on the bottle, ‘Do not swallow.’
But if you can keep it down, it will keep you
Pretty damn buzzed for four or five hours.”

Bob wore green hospital pants and pale blue gown.
As we were talking, Bob would wave at cars.
Some drivers would wave back. A double decker
Tourist bus appeared, so Bob grinned and waved.
A tourist waved back. Both Bob and I thought
This was hilarious. Welcome to Philadelphia!
Before leaving Bob, I said,“You know you were
Walking around with your ass showing! You should
Go to that church over there and get some clothes.”

“My ass was showing?!”

“Yeah, man, you should go to the church.”

“Yeah, I know where that church is.”




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Followers

About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.