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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Not Getting Lucky in New Jersey

As published at Dissident Voice, 2/14/14:

Jay Dee was with his woman for five years, saw her
Every day and slept with her every single night.
They had a great kid together, a boy. Only trouble
Was she was bipolar, you know, so they’d argue
All the time, and I mean screaming arguments.
So sick of it, Jay Dee finally said, “We’re splitting,
But I’m keeping Timmy.” That’s his kid’s name, and
You know what she said? She laughed, “You ain’t
Keeping nothing, 'cause he ain’t even your kid.”
Test proved it. Jay Dee wasn’t Tim’s dad after all.

Right after the result, Jay Dee went to a go-go bar,
And blew, like, 700 bucks. He sat there until closing,
And this chick, a really hot one too, blonde, said,
“Why are you blowing all your money?” He told her,
So her eyes went doggy sad, “I’m so, so sorry, but
You know what? Let’s get a motel room, and I’ll make
Sure you feel a whole lot better.” Here was this babe,
Nearly all skin, and steaming from all that dancing.
Her hand was on his thigh and she rubbed against him.

What would you do? Not stupid, though, Jay Dee
Could tell she was only being friendly because she
Had seen his cash, so he said, “I’m broke,” and he was.
He must have spent over 300 bucks on her alone.
Sometimes he didn’t even tuck bills into their G-strings,
But threw money on the floor for the chicks to pick up.
Smiling, she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay. I just hate to
See you looking like that. I’ll do a good deed today!”
So they checked into this motel. It was only 53 bucks.

If I were fanciful, I could invent Jay Dee fiddling
The clock radio, to come up with Santana,
Nirvana or AC/DC, and on the wall, a print
Of Old Faithful or a unicorn, but since this is
Straight forward reporting, I can’t even claim
That her eyes were green, like a girl I used to know.
They drank Bud, did some coke and he tried, you know,
To have sex with her, but she said, “We need liquor.
Let’s go to your place and get us some liquor.”

She knew he had moved back in with his mom,
But his mom was away, and wouldn’t be back
Until morning, so they went to his mom’s house
To get a couple of bottles. This was in Medford,
A really affluent town, you know, 97% white,
And his mom’s house is worth a million and a half,
With lots of trees all around, and spare rooms and
Bathrooms everywhere. He showed her around.
She was like, “Wow, you’re really loaded!” “No,
Only my mom is loaded!” He kept a close eye
On her his whole time, to make sure she didn’t
Filch anything. He barely blinked this whole time.

Never a book type, Jay Dee never went to college,
But he did learn how to do brick and cement works,
And even had his own business, with a truck and two,
Sometimes three Mexican guys sweating for him.
Soon enough, he would also inherit a bundle, for sure.

Back at the motel, they drank and he tried again
And again, but she kept stalling. I mean, he could touch
But that was it. Then, she said, “I’ve got to call my dad.
He’s probably worried sick that I haven’t gotten home.
I’ll be right back,” and she went outside to call her dad.
She was gone so long, Jay Dee started to think maybe
She won’t return, and he’ll be stuck with the bill,
But the door opened, finally, and there she was,
As hot as if she was upside down on a pole, but
Her disposition remained stale. They nibbled
Each other a bit, but only Jay Dee was naked.
Finally, she said, “Listen, it’s not working out.
Let’s just sleep,” and they cuddled, which was nice,
Sort of, as he touched himself, until morning.
Before they parted, she gave him her phone number,
But this was no more real than her name, Mercedes.
“Call me tonight, let’s do something.” She kissed him.

From the top of the cul-de-sac, Jay Dee could spot
Half a dozen cop cars outside his mom’s house.
Burglars had taken his mom’s safe, with its 40
Thousand dollars, plus 80 more grand in jewelry.
There was no sign of a break in. They had entered
Through a back door left unlocked by Mercedes.
Jay Dee, then, became the only suspect, so
He was handcuffed right then, then locked up
For three months, until his case was thrown out.
Mom and son haven’t chattered since, and Jay Dee
Has been homeless for eight months now. He sleeps
Outside nearly every night, since the shelters
Don’t have enough sleeping spots, and assholes
Will cut in front even when you show up early, then
Rob you, so you must sleep with one eye open. With
Today’s snow and sleet, buses have stopped running,
And people are falling left and right just trying to walk.


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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 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 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). 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, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.