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Thursday, December 25, 2014

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Melissa-in-Bentley's-Place-on-12-24-14--Kensington








Outside Bentley's Place, cops and armed drug dealers, but inside, all was well on Christmas Eve. Thirty-years-old, Melissa hadn't bartend there a month. This evening, she was anxious to close around midnight, so she could get home to her 12-year-old twin sons. They were more than anxious to open their presents. Spending $700, Melissa had bought them an iPod, iPad and video games. They both want to join the military eventually.

Lots of cops and firemen in Bridesburg, where Melissa is living.

When she said she was half Irish and half Japanese, I was like, "Wow, you don't look Japanese at all!"

"My sister does."

A drug addict, her Japanese dad had no role in raising his two daughters, and when Melissa was 21, even asked her to help him out financially, "Can you believe that?! Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?!"

"So he's still around?"

"Yeah, he's in Frankford."

"You're pissed off at him?"

"No, I've gotten over it. It's not worth it."

Melissa showed me a photo of herself dressed in a kimono at seven-years-old. Her paternal grandma loved her, and so do her paternal aunts and uncles. "I had the best grandma in the world."

As Melissa stood outside to smoke, a homeless guy walked by and asked for a "Christmas hug." She gave it to him, then asked me after she had come back inside, "Do I smell like a homeless person?"

I sniffed her twice, "No, you smell fine."

Wearing a "Hard Shell Crabs / Firmest and Juiciest Meat" shirt, a middle-aged Puerto Rican guy kept playing Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." Sloshed, several of us belted along, "And I want you to show me!"



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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.