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Monday, November 3, 2014

Rabbit’s in Grinnell, Iowa

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“You know what I never get tired of?
Looking at beautiful American women!”

“Yeah, I’ve had my share of the slanty eyes.
In Vietnam, you had to stick a carrot up into them,
To make sure there wasn’t a razor inside.”

“My boyfriend just got back from Iraq. Either that
Or Afghanistan. I always get those two confused.”

“We used to pick up drugs in California,
Sell it in Ohio and other places. Once,
Me and my boys were jumped by a bunch
Of Mexicans, but we retreated, called backup
Then taught them not to mess with Hells Angels.
This happened at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro.
I’ve only been in jail twice. Once, I tried to shoot
This motherfucker in the head, but got his thigh,
And that’s what I told the judge, too. ‘I wish I had
Hit his head!’ The judge gave me five years. I got
Out after four for good behavior. It was enough.
The second time was after a night of drinking
At the Rabbit’s. I was so fucked up, I just drove
My truck to the police station, two blocks away,
And asked them to arrest me. The cop, good man,
Let me sleep in a cell until morning. He didn’t even
Lock the door. It’s just like a hotel. You should try it.”

Freshly arrived, I shouldn’t try to test
Much of anything, but then again, I could,
Since I’d be gone before consequences.
Here, there was no echo at any corner.

The carrot sticking man wiggled off his stool,
Then hobbled out of the bar on two crutches.
His right pant leg was empty below the knee.
Though born there, I’m fully here, unlike him.
I’m not haunted by bloody carrots and worse, though
What harass me through the years leave him alone.

I consulted the barflies on the local economy, bad,
And the pros and cons of turkey gizzards, good,
So I ordered what looked like a huge testicle,
And ate it with knife and fork, like fine dining.
It was a humbling and brave salvage operation.
Bathed in Tabasco, even the worst is palatable,
But this chewy and gamey knob was actually good.
I poured the American woman beer from my pitcher.




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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.