Why is this man jumping?
And now my skeletal editors call on me
with their chattering skulls:
"Where are your words for Fa Ngum and Chao Anou,
or the fallen honored at the Patuxai?
In all of this time, surely one word about Vientiane
will not kill you or your friends."
It's hard to answer, sitting down to eat in July.
"Write what you know," my teachers admonish.
Sipping my soda, I turn the pages of a
weathered book of Van Gogh prints
inspired by Hokusai and the Ukiyo-e
My flag is as obsolete as the word Indochine, and
I realized today I am older than my father lived to be.
It's been too long since I last saw an elephant
or the monstrous river catfish.
They tell me somberly the freshwater Irrawaddy
will be extinct before the next time I come by.
I couldn't sketch any of them worth a damn if I tried.
A part of me wants to smack the next person
who says I won't be Lao if I don't write about Laos.
-- excerpt from "Japonisme, Laoisme"
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!