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Friday, September 13, 2013

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Rooming-house-on-South-Georgia--Atlantic-City








It took me maybe a minute to get this shot right, and when I was done, the guy sitting on a low step said, "You shouldn't be taking your camera out around here, man. Those people were saying they wanted to smash it!"

"Ah, they're always talking shit!"

Dude chuckled, "Yeah, you're right. They think they're gangsters, but they're just pranksters!"

Bill Bringhurst was his name, and he was in Atlantic City to sell programs at the Miss America Competition, with events happening all week leading up to the televised finale on Sunday. He said it wasn't unusual for him to make $250, just selling programs at an event, and he had worked Eagles and Phillies games, and concerts. "Beyonce wanted me to go on tour with her, so I could sell her programs."

"You're full of shit!"

"You don't know, man, I'm good at what I do. I'm the best!"

He said his family arrived in the "1400's," and were among the first settlers of Germantown in Philadelphia. Well, Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, and Germantown wasn't founded until 1681, but maybe the Bringhursts were kidnapped by Martians, then dumped in Pennsylvania a couple hundred years earlier. Anything is possible.

Later, a young, snub nosed girl asked me, "You have a cigarette?"

"Sorry, but I don't smoke."

"You have fifty cents?"

"Sorry, I'm broke."

"You don't have fifty cents?!" And her open mouth, green eyes and pretty snub nose beamed, fully, incredulity and disgust at my apologetic configuration, standing there in the half dark.

"Sorry, but I'm really broke," and I was really down to two pennies. I'd have loved to help her get a donut or a beef jerky, but I had already spent too much that day, what with the train fare to Atlantic City, a corner store hoagie for both lunch and dinner, and cheap beer at Flanigan's, where I managed to meet a couple of locals. Had I more cash, I would have offered her (up to) $10 bucks to tell me her story, and she might say, "Fuck off," or, more likely, give me 20 minutes of her time.



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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.