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Friday, December 26, 2014

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Pedro-in-Jack's-with-bag-of-gifts-on-Christmas-Eve--Kensington








Fifty-seven-years-old, Pedro works for Royal Prestige, and that's why he's holding up his cap along with the church group's Christmas gifts. The Best Socks on the bar he just bought from an itinerant seller.

"It's like this. You have chihuahuas, greyhounds, german shepherds and bulldogs, but we're all dogs, you know what I mean, so we've got to stick together!"

Later, Pedro said, "There are head, arms, legs, torso, asshole, but everybody wants to be a head, no one wants to be an asshole, so they got rid of the asshole. They threw the asshole into the river, and the asshole was doing backstrokes, like this, and they were like, fuck you, asshole! But when it came time to take a shit, guess what, they needed the asshole, so you may be an asshole, I may be an asshole, but everybody has a role to play, you know what I mean?"

Then, "I love everybody, man, and it has to be unconditional love. I hold no grudge against nobody."


When I told Pedro I was 51, he shouted, "Congratulations!" Overhearing us, Bob the bartender jumped in, "You're congratulating him for being 51?!"

"Yeah, because not everybody makes it that far!"

"How old are you?" I asked Bob.

"51."

"So congratulations to you too!" Pedro said, then to me, "The other day, I just said hello to these young guys standing on the street, and they looked at me like they wanted to kill me! One of them said, 'What are you looking at?!' I just kept my head down and walked away. Around here, they might just shoot you over nothing!"

It was Christmas Eve in Jack's, and the mood was reasonably festive. When a white woman in her late 60's saw a Hispanic man she knew, she said, "What is it, what is it, feliz Navidad!"

"Merry Christmas to you too," he responded.

"Are you married, Pedro?" I asked.

"Yes, but she passed away. I live alone."



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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.