As published at Dissident Voice, 12/6/13:
When a person says, “I know Knoxville,”
What does he mean by that? I mean,
How much of Knoxville has he measured
With his own body? Once, I heard
A novelist declare, “Read my book
And you will know what Brooklyn was like,”
And I could only think, Her private Brooklyn
Can’t be larger than her medium-sized head,
So even a thousand-page book can’t do justice
To an inch of Brooklyn, which must be measured,
Directly, with your own two feet, and hands, too,
As you crawl or slither, or as you sniff Brooklyn’s
Infinity of sweatily fragrant spots. Thanks
To Fisher-Price, a newborn can now be strapped
To a seat, and forced, his head tilted up, to stare
At a relentless screen, with its bright and anxiety-ridden,
Sped-up world, so that his eyes will cloud over and roll
Away from this mind rape. Drooling, he will utter a series
Of terrified near-words, which his iPad-hooked parents
Will interpret as pleasure. Raised in apptivity, kids
Will eschew walking, talking or eating while looking
At their food, or sex that isn’t on demand. Like now.
Hooked on porn and apps, we will not rebel.
Are you back yet? OK, then, walk with me.
Actually, don’t walk with me, for our paces
And pauses should not converge. Exiting
Girard Station, I notice a white-bearded man,
Leaning on a walker, saying, “Good afternoon,
Can you spare some money for lunch,” while you,
Already down the block, stop at a table,
Set up by an old lady. She’s selling old pots,
Five single rolls of toilet paper and an ashtray.
On a chainlink fence, she has hung up her dead
Husband’s polyester jackets. A portable heater,
Well-rusted, is also for sale. You engage her.
Examining closely the ashtray, you cannot help
But envy its coherent life, its focus, its dignity.
State of the Union
Friday, December 6, 2013
As published at Dissident Voice, 12/6/13:
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Four women together, with the lead one saying, "I hate to bother you guys, but do you have a moment? These three girls are stranded. They're from New York. They came down here to hang out and they got robbed of all their money, so now they can't get back, so if you guys can spare anything, it would really help. They don't speak that much English, so I'm just trying to help them out. I live here. I can give you my address and even my email if you want me too."
This is about as clumsy as it gets. First of, for all three to be robbed of all their money, it would have to be at gun point, which is highly improbable in any place an out-of-town daytripper is likely to go in Philly. Secondly, they were not dressed for the cold weather, especially if they were traveling. Approaching young men almost exclusively, they didn't want to be too wrapped up. Thirdly, the speaking "stranger" happened to dress like these foreigners she was trying to help, with the same jean skirt and leggings as one of her poor speakers of English. Amazingly, several dorks gave them money.
- Linh Dinh
- Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. 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 Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). 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, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.