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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Travel Tips

As published in Monkey Business 6:






When booking a hotel room, make sure it’s in the right city. If you’re going to Istanbul, for example, make sure your moonlit bed, dead television and odd angled toilet will be in Istanbul, Turkey, and not, mon chéri, Istanbul, Iowa. Of course I know there is no such place, but there will undoubtedly be one before we break up this playfully pregnant intercourse. Look on Google Maps. You may even see your dead father jogging, quite happily, in Istanbul, Iowa.

Who doesn’t know that pickpockets are becoming ever more skillful? It’s as if their fingers have gotten longer and swifter. With their sixth, seventh or eighth sense, they can tell exactly what you’ve been hiding all your life, and your degree of masochism. Of course, you must atone for your own thievery, you compulsive robber of anything that means anything.

Some pickpockets specialize in stealing your character as you’re ordering a sandwich. Recently, I lost my virginal underwear while merely standing in line at a Starbucks in the capital of… I’d rather not say. I don’t want to besmirch this noble country since I may have been complicit in the laughable brouhaha. The pleasantly ticklish sensation lingers to this day. I could easily have been strangled, though, and dumped into a ditch.

To ensure that nothing is lifted from your decaying person, keep both hands inside your pant pockets at all time. Clutch your wallet, coins and keys with a death grip. Don’t grind your teeth, however, as that would arouse dangerous suspicion from the predators. Anticipating their next meal, they will smack their lips and extend their hands in heartfelt greetings. Simply nod, if you must be cordial, but it’s best to look quickly away, then quicken your steps as you escape their Byzantine entrapment. Even when dining in a restaurant, don’t take your hands out of your pockets for even a second. All that you ever cared for will disappear forever. It is certainly worth it to master the art of eating without hands. Millions have done it.

If someone tails you block after block, mile after mile, city after city, don’t ever turn around to see who it is, for it will certainly make you weep then destroy you. I mean, you will kill yourself immediately for not having turned around much, much sooner.










[Motoyuki Shibata, Monkey Business' editor, asked for a prose poem in late December, so I wrote the above in two days while in Leipzig. Two months later, I'd lose my camera, lenses and passport in Berlin. Reading the piece in New York last week, I joked that there is perhaps a Monkey Business curse!]





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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.