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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Backpack and Nut Indexes

As published at Dissident Voice and CounterPunch, 8/22/13:






Forget the DOW or Nasdaq, I give you
The backpack index. Meet Aslim, a
Purveyor of backpacks and purses
At Philly’s half dead mall, the Gallery.
It’s back to school time, so backpacks
Should fly off the rack, but not this year,
Since everyone is broke, after years
Of drowning wages, or none at all, yet
The cost of anything has gone way up,
Including the price of nuts, which have
Been crossed from your grocery list, for
Who needs snacks, when there’s not enough
Quarters and dimes left for regular meals?

Out of nuts, rice or beans, you can sell blood.
Out of blood, you can sell your lower half
For half an hour at a time, or else
Have it shredded overseas, under the flag.
Like a nutcase, you lunge forward, yelping,
“Better to kill ‘em here, I guess, than there,
Though I hardly know which country I’m in.
Even home, I no longer know where I dwell.
Fighting for nuts, I’ll leave my nuts right here.”

Nutless, you will be deemed a hero, fool or freak,
As you roll down the street, with your small flag,
But at least you’ll eat with what’s left of your jaw,
Though you may have to loiter outside all day,
Behind a sign, “HOMELESS VETERAN. PLEASE HELP.”
Nutless, you’ll recall that hazy, sweet night
In your Chevy, after much Schlitz, when she
Rotated those dice in her winsome way.





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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), 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 Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). 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, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.