Cover and Title Page Art by Christine Alexander-Messer

Copyright 1992 by Omega Cat press All rights revert to creators upon publication

ISBN 0-9631755-1-3

$5.00

Omega Cat Press 904 Old Town Court Cupertino, CA 95014-4024

BORNEO ORDINATION “Bless my chickens and this corn” raised to the painted priest who holds all ears with his prayers in lingua Dayak straining even through the lattices to his temple of palms to chants behind the games of the longhouse boys who breathe the smoldering cloves, sip Sprite from cups of coconut, and scratch beneath sarongs to relieve themselves of notes they bet in Bahasa until they hear father priest call the bull crowned with flowers and ribbons from its throne of branches. They tether the beast to a stake and draw their daggers high. The best of them slides off his sunglasses and sarong, accepts the torch from father priest, enlightens the tail of the bull who circumscribes a circle perfectly before the tribe alters its orbit sinuously with their blades. Father priestʼs procession to the center silences the pumping iron save for the fist of the naked young man who cuts the throat of the bull, fills his hands with blood and paints himself a new apostle. This is thanksgiving in Mancung.

AIR PLANT
Orchid thrives in the forest and its perfume is undiminished by the absence of the people. -Hung Tʼing-chʼien 11th Century

Sweet syllables made my tiller hand move up the Mahakam River round meandering logs chewed to wipe the lips of Western diners and their noses senselessly-so from Melak like hungry ants we had to walk to find Borneo far from its watery highway to Kersik Luway where Dayak cousins refreshed me with rice and rest as one of the tribal hundred huddled odorously in the longhouse hidden finally in the forest before at dawn we made for the magic place where I saw the black orchid I had always known must live more with than on its tree. I could not touch it, but I see the sacred land and face and smell the black orchid still over the airplane food and napkins . . . refuse.

BALI HIGH SEASON “When Salimi asks me to walk down Kuta Beach in cock season I do because sheʼs so funny, all the stories like how a handsome Dutch offer one thousand after she suck him and she scream, ʻOne thousand rupiah? Give me forty thousand or I call the police.ʼ ʻBut I only have one,ʼ say the Dutch. ʻSo insulting,ʼ Salimi says, ʻNo one ever offer me only one.ʼ So Salimi very dramatic, you know, with his hands folded on his chest like he sings Indonesian opera, you know, says she likes the Dutch and hopes to see him again, so he asks for his watch. And the Dutch he give it him. Really, Salimi wears it when he asks me to walk and I did. Salimi hopes to see the Dutch in front of the Bali Oberoi where he take him the night before. Salimi says Dutch are honest and want one boy only. “Like Wayan. A Dutch promise to send him money so he could go to Hague, but when he get letter, he see lines in red. Wayan almost cry. I ask Salimi about the letter but they donʼt read Dutch or English. I tell him I translate, the red parts are important,

but Salimi says Wayan throw the letter away. “We find the Dutch at Oberoi. Oh, he is so old and fat and wears a suit that shows his bum. Salimi asks the time. Ha. The Dutch has friend, a Westerner, old but a nice body, not so hairy or pale and he asks us to sit. I sit but say I must go home. Salimi says I am stupid in Indonesian but I say back I have you. He asks if you send money and I say yes but I donʼt care about money. I care about love. “I donʼt know what happen with the Dutch, but tonight I see Salimi in a dress walking with Italian. Not gay because Salimi does not say hello even when I yell from across the street, ʻSally! Sally!ʼ But as the Italian puts her in his jimny, she throws me a big smile and I go home to write to you. “Oh, and guess what, she still wears the watch.”

CHOLER satu. AT&T counts my bounces to Bali off satellites: sneezing still? seen whom, met, this week? like Lou Reed cassette I sent? Feel okay? worked our van? Love me still wait for me? I hear echoes behind answers. dua. At Cafe Europa in Yoyga I dared Ferdy forsake rice for pasta. His dark eyes squint-hidden sang to a minstrelʼs accented Shadow of Your Smile until it did. The guitarist approached, held Ferdy fast with a nosey Balinese twang to his Indonesian, releasing only with a breath Ferdy to explain acquaintance. I offered Bintang beer and when Made emptied our bottle to half his glass, he poured on our bill another two big drafts, renewed dialogue. I interpreted Ferdy myself precision-tooled to hand and face and the stray cognate. An odd steel saw; rare quiver heard; missed his syntactic giggle with friends. Ferdy leaned to me on wrists, but Madeʼs tourist English kept us to spaghetti talk, twines, twirls and sucks. “So you visit beach?” “Yes, tomorrow.” “Bemo?” No, we have a van.” “Rental?” “No.”

“Ah.” I ate a chilied meatball to more music of Indonesian til Ferdy said Made asks to join us at the beach, but we donʼt know, do we, what time we go? “No. Not really, no, I, no, we donʼt, no.” Hint of two languages taken, Made left empty bottles and knotted noodles cold. “I hate him,” “I did ask him to have some beer.” Ferdyʼs glances gathered us alone among the diners. “Heʼs prostitute in Bali. A month ago he go with English. After they make sex, they argue about money, English tells Made he has AIDS, so Made kills English with knife, takes money, runs to stay with boys on the beach who tell me story. Then Made is gone, no one knows where. Now we know. I promise him to tell no one—not you even.” “Shall we leave Yoyga?” “We just go early to beach, okay, oh, but I wish I donʼt see him.” tiga. Six months before in Jakarta Borobudur I tempted Ferdy to fondue and anniversary champagne. Beside us a loud American party explored earth in the time of AIDS, Ferdy drank wine til he couldnʼt think or touch the melted cheese.

empat. I risked time two in Bali, American Thanksgiving, to prove Ferdy mine. We dined again at Orchid Garden on spicy prawns and Ferdy assured me he missed me so much that as he entered a young Javanese he thought only of me. Fuck the shrimp! When he found me in the blacks of sea sand, I screamed in whispers, damned his magic powerless in Western winds and soon theyʼll eat hamburgers here and death follows. “But why are you angry?” lima. The day we met he took me for sate and sticky rice in banana leaves after we had shared ourselves with the sun set long outside a temple where he chanted and dancers swayed barefoot in fire to the gamelan deaf to the pain and the beat of the bass from the disco down the street.

SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET Days after I fell in with Bali and him, I asked Ferdy everything else. Oh, I knew from the first night he wasnʼt Balinese-but Muslim, for Indonesia Jews are rare. “From North Sumatra my tribe is Batak.” “Cannibal!” I screamed, held my crotch and rolled away across the mattress. “Yes, but we eat enemies only.” I stared back smiling to his slight self snug in the moonʼs shadow like a golden Labrador allowed at last to enjoy the bed. “So be nice. “In Jakarta, I talk with Batak words for we are famous as fierce. We fight so hard the Dutch. Si Singamangaraja is national hero, our chief who kill many Dutch before they kill him.” “I knew this, tried to remember how. “Maybe you read in guidebook.” In the middle of the night, like an obscure movie title that evades me at dinner, it came: My father found my hand,

hiding in a pocket outside the hospital, sweating still from the skeleton who had held it, called my name as i ran. “Once your grandpa was strong and scary in other ways. In the Dutch East India Army, he won medals for uncommon valor. You should be such a man.” I wiped my eyes, looked behind and woke Ferdy with a fearsome hug. “Hey, be nice,” he warned me.

THE APPRENTICE
A Letter from Java

Thanks for your letter again, comes with special of wonderful words. I want to hearing the often it. I am not take bearing on this paper for we had speaking. There-is make me happy. But I get understood between language and style. So I have similar conclusion, the expression of human psychology: We are speaking before I am sorry again. I used the border of the language. Do you know? Why I looking about you astonished of my works? Thanks of your flattery, I am living on the sky. I hope you donʼt afraid the new batiks is already you prefer. Please, give me times for idea to the better works between of the works had may have it. I want to show the best. You will delicious of the new. May you heavenly more happiness to me. Enormous! You that like the young man ever looked something wonderfully on this world.

To separate yourself from your country also the family yourself. Within I think itʼs impossible and so I canʼt say of flattery, exception to put up my thumb! What is your broken home because you want free to live? Difference of people in Java, usually they want to marry for futre oriented. But for me I am wrestling with the hot wax and to frighten! I am sorry to drudge of you, you are happiness. Maybe I canʼt return help for you, but coming soon, I will send the other styles of my batiks to take pleasure in your heart. I feel sad during this month I forget my obligation and also my special duty which is untidy. I am sure you worry. And the sadness that you wiat for my service doesnʼt come yet. I should go to do my job. I should have worked hard. So I was bored because not free. In essence, I was lonely without you. The event of language to use myself, maybe Iʼll wordless if I am speaking directly because I havenʼt more the words. The language of dictionary in I used it,

know is means it! Please tell me with the wonderful words again. Terima kasih. Sincerely, Roto PS I am sorry if my words do not take pleasure in your heart.

EBBTIDE
“Yes,” replied the professor as we stopped somewhere along the Peron Peninsula on the coast of Western Australia, “what you see covering the beach is, in fact, stromatolite, the oldest fossil on the planet. Alive at the dawn of time, it excreted the atmosphere we breathe.”

Stromatolite hides in death, sludge, safely on a strip of beach. It lives atop its history, unmoved but meters toward the highway. Stromatolite yields to my trod in the soft security of forebearance. Wrenching, I finger, separate to see veins of green. Stomatolite sees amidst the pile without eyes the sun, feeding earth. Stromatolite mourns not its death. It gives way without anger, regret-bodhi dharma-to the soles of my shoes.

ALTERED STATES

A JOURNEY THROUGH OUR COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

I Richard who like myself from parents who teach Aborigine like myself I teach Jason who three to like myself I like my wife Jenny very much. The Mimis, they live in the lines of the Rock they tell us this when they paint their prints in Zwischenraum; the prints of our hands we see in blood when we awaken each eclipse. And when I was a dream of Namagun the Mimis gave themselves to me. The Rock floats on the river no person no woman no man knows from the land which it shaded before Tapara tempted the dohada Waijai

and killed Jinani and me. And the River it calls my Rock Jason and Jenny and me back for it tires of its cooling. I shall walk across the sea when it is no more sea when I am no more man. Dragon Java Sumatra Papua Jaya Bali breaks my heart back into fibers. I forget myself and drink the sea, breathe fire, expire in spire, again look to the Marege cross, * respire, * in spire * and * grind * gr in d . I c myself in hollows of my home. Romeo, I rush to the edge

of Jeddaʼs leap, see the great plains and the Katherine. I see Parukuparli and paint him in me on the walls of my cave with my blood offered to him on the floor of the forest. It was my initiation and when the old men saw, they gave me food for a week and set me to walk about without Parukuparli I cared not to eat, sought the whirlpool of the gorge as Namagun ordained, listened to the swirl sound of the waves with Yukio. Humpty Doo: Arma virum que cano and the missus Jeannie of the Never Never. Once I begin Peter I canʼt stop with Christmas. It raises me on thermals beyond London to crocodiles ticking with the hands

of men and time. I see through crocodile waters Eden of once. I know a place where dreams are made, where dreams make. How can I stop at childhoodʼs eternal prelude once I see the caves with Mimis too real to cast shadows? I dream in tenses, verbalize, name predicates. Whatʼs the holiday to say to see the seed in mind, to see the mind in seed. 31 December? If I can move from midnight back Or listen: hosanna so h igh oly Saturday. The palindrome of limbo: Friday to Easter Easter Easter. Iʼm only flying. Jeannie knows more in her states.

In Mataranka I find an olive tree cut into its flesh reveal the seed hard. It stinks of fruit. The seed will not bear but if I smell it with my eye so that the clouds streaked with ionic light emanate I miss the sun. The cycab is menʼs business. She may not grind its nut. I show her and place it in the earthʼs sandstone womb. I roll it with my hand and sniff poison on my palm. Press. My boomerang cannot fly against the trees. the fire must come. (There is a bird on the Yellow Water who leaves her mate to hatch as she seeks anotherʼs seed.) Parukuparli he see Waijai return in hand of Tapara and so he say that Waijai she do wrong

and Eve she feels shame and knew that she was naked. Parukuparli he take his baby Jinani and he suck the air right out of that babyʼs blood. If the tree be rotten, so be the fruit. Waijai she cry. Tapara he beg Parukuparli please forgive Waijai for eating of the tree. Tapara he coilʼd his tongue said he could inspire Waijai but Parukuparli he love his baby so he not let it live. Parukuparli made then a mark upon Tapara with his rattan cane and Tapara he ashamed and leaped to the east where he shine over the escarpment still. Parukuparli take then his child and walked to the west to the sea and gave it up to the cyclone below. And thus man died but Parukuparli he live in the dreamtime. Kate, I shall hold your busy contours that once I dug and probed and made mine. Too golden to remain. Give me nine years of release. I shall chew your hills to find

essence, digest them with arsenic and coconut, excrete the waste, and bury the bile from my eyes. When I have you gleaming and glazed in bricks, golden, oh, how I shall adore you, Kate, ored, refined, beautiful. Fools shall recreate in the space you need no longer. Break away an inch each fortnight of years. Sash yourselves with names Wayan, Madé, Nyoman, Ketut. Gigauan: I turn out the light get off the streets throw rocks from the temple and dream of Rama Shinta Cinta Rama and listen only to the mantras of the gods: in their temples growing green in the dark of trees and the new year

moved by centimeters toward the back of the dragon from which empire bends to empire, jack to hammer, all in reds, whites, blue. Gigau: in Ching Chung Koon cemetery, incense pours in front of homely prints of the decadeʼs dead. The smoke sickens and the old ladies in glasses to hide the ochre of their eyes pull bandages from balls of cotton sweep sweep sweep in plastic gloves printlessly unthreateningly to sterility grind grind grind. And their children take photographs click click click in digits to wait

in drawers for a centimeter. Impian: Ganbulabula holds back his land, embraces earth empathizes with them into the yam. The people they play uffda on the didgeridoo and see the yam open its eyes with them.

STIGMA 1989
In Tiananmenʼs youth I petted children who would terrify ancients, watched them build a bold frailty with scraps. Smiles carried me to a tent where Guo confirmed “You are American?” He grasped, held tightly my hand in his left upon his naked chest. With the right, he took a knife and before I was asked or needed to think to speak, he slashed our index fingers and they stained his belly, pants, his toes, my shoes and he held my hand until I felt one scab between us. “I need to have the blood of freedom in my veins before I die.” Home in Hong Kong a Saturday later, I searched on tv the Square for the sign of my life.”

BORDER INCIDENT
NORTH OF CHIANG RAI, THAILAND

Upon his hill of poppies, I stared an Akah piper into the smile of a bargain I cached with Crest and K-Y ʻtil after dinner another brought two virgin headdresses fit only for memories-baht-venerable mother sold her hands to trek-bound American muscles as Akah lads toured bottles of Mekong whiskey brought from Bangkok. They sought the glass and with my nod we drank our way to doorprizes they won, then passed their turns with weed. Stars I saw sparked by coffeepot flames on the horizon of brown brows who made that night my hut their village nomad. Awu on whom I lame had leaned to this peak picked my pack for the poppyʼs essence, spun it on the wheel of whiskey and grass. Soon I spoke Akah, heard jokes, punned in tribal talk, and lost breath for the laughter. When Awu grabbed my neck in English, I waved off translation, sensed smiling words unlaughed and saw civilization-tubercle-he held me.

Humming disco ahead of Akah screams, Awu led me afield where each poppy reflected but one star extinguished now by bodies lit instead with ancient fire.

SALA DAYS I sleep and see me dancing ʻround the sala, around my neck the blue sash dangles damply ʻtil it swirls in time alive in the breeze I create and I follow its flight to find a partner, this boy whose left hand contortedly gloved in black graces with drama the night. Other faces spin familiar as well with scarves on air, hands arcing oddly from wrists and legs strutting, pressing the floor of the sala. What happens here beyond the collection of sweat on my forehead? I sit at the edge of the sala, stare, recall when first Thai sun dewed my morning, the sala offered shade, a cool stair, room to listen, see from the back the old man looks old, hunched, but disappears into bamboo. I hear a cock crow, so look at my watch, but dawn has sounded a quarterday before. I hear the rain, but see only the old one rolling a cart across gravel. I hear leaves in the wind, but see dots of percolating flies. I hear rain, but the old man bears the hose, trickles in congruence, a swirl with his sway upon each plant, flower, precisely,

he cares for his garden.

BAR BOY Not until Thursday did Dang drunkenly top off my Mekong with some history of the young man beside me. Thai tones trick me, and Dang had taught him English only practically-shower sauna massage dollar-so when that night the boy devoured me stinking of steam with love I couldnʼt ask how he thought of the Golden Triangle war when starving he sucked life from snakes, from rats, from the comrade fallen for him.

SHERPA STORY Nardu abandoned sight of the porters bearing tents and cabbages, water and household gods, but never of my running shoes balanced on ridges from Pokhara to Naudanda. There, he rested when I relished roasted mutton but refused raw salad. (“Boil it,” Iʼd read, “peel it, or forget it.”) Nardu wandered as I dealt with the husbandmen, advised me once to treat the children of Nepal not as beggars: “Give them medicine, not money.” He kept his eyes on my Niked feet when inclined to the Himalayas; I gazed on ancient terraces green with spring, glacier decks, and, adapted to my pace, two decades etched by crystal winds deeply into the face of the sherpa boyman. I slid through those crags across timberline sure that his smile might save me: he took me to the plateau at dawn to see the sun recreate from fog the fishtail form of Macchapucchare; Nardu breathed deep and said he “took once a German party. It rained at base for twenty days. They had but twenty-five. We would not make the peak or should not with the weight of rain. I led them down but one decided on his own higher destiny. He slipped: there.” Nardu pointed; his bare toes kicked my right foot. “Good shoes?” “The best I own,” I lied and stared

at the valley.

A RIDDLE OF NEPAL
You cannot escape one infinite, I told myself, by fleeing to another; you cannot escape the revelation of the identical by taking refuge in the illusion of the multiple. --Foucaultʼs Pendulum

If everything on earth were rational, nothing would happen. --The Brothers Karamazov

He was placed beneath the diamond-tree and trembled when he saw his own likeness. --a Nepalese riddle

“Off Durbar Square, my eyes deferred to the dark, mandala woven within white wool enough for its young dealer to drape an arm round my shoulder, ʻYou look for carpet? Much inside. You will join me? Come.ʼ I glimpsed behind him a doorway to a doorway. ʻMy shop is up the stairs. Many beautiful carpets. Please.ʼ His naked smile took me up and I followed his white linens cinched tightly into a black shirt. Two flights above Ganga Path, he unlocked a timberland, rolls of felled fabric, piles of rug. ʻI am Pudmaʼ stepping off his flip-flops; I sat to shuck sneakers. He waved me a red pillow, faced me, descended, cross-legged, languorously upon a roll, leaped upright, ʻSome tea! A moment.ʼ Returned, Pudma presented the warm glass. Through a settling storm of leaves, I watched clothes sink again, face erased chromatically to tea.

I drank. Pudma asked, ʻYou take a day of shopping? You travel Kathmandu alone?ʼ I set the glass down, ʻShall I fear?ʼ ʻNo, drink.ʼ I did. ʻYou take a day of shopping then?ʼ ʻI return from Kumari Bahal.ʼ ʻAh, you have seen the living goddess.ʼ ʻYes. For a moment, for a rupee, the kumari stood at her window for me.ʼ ʻWas it a value for you?ʼ ʻI am a student of religion.ʼ ʻHindu?ʼ ʻOf religion. I study to be a priest.ʼ ʻYou know the story of kumari?ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻ . . . how the spinners of gold offer the jewels of their flesh, their daughters, to the priestsʼ vision for the kumariʼs skin must shine without like a gem.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻ . . . balance of eyes, one to the other, and both to the halos of breasts, slope of fingers, toes.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻ . . . kati ho from the bell to the anus you say.ʼ ʻYou know much of this.ʼ ʻI do . . . and she must stretch to a wheel perfect, like the drawing of Leonardo you know.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻ . . . for she must be the mandala herself . . . incarnate you say.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻSo you saw the kumari and paused at my mandala . . . ʻ ʻThe carpet.ʼ ʻIt is no accident you say.ʼ ʻPerhaps.ʼ ʻHa! you have so much to learn, student, I say. But see.ʼ Pudma rose, reached from a far wall a roll he snapped with fists and it flew a ceiling and billowed between us upon the floor a vast picture of the power of the sun. ʻCome

sit at the mandala with me.ʼ ʻBeautiful,ʼ I felt threads of golden silk, knots of scarlet wool in my palms, transfixed flowers upon branches within leaves upon atoms within aureoles upon petals within galaxies of circles upon circles upon circles upon ʻOm mani padme hum.ʼ Pudma saw me hear and held his mantra and my question, ʻWhat does it mean?ʼ ʻIt is what are you called?ʼ ʻThomas.ʼ ʻIt is Thomas what we say of carpets: If you must ask, you cannot afford it. You will be a Christian priest?ʼ ʻA Catholic priest.ʼ ʻAll the same.ʼ ʻNot at all.ʼ ʻAll the same. The wheel, watch where you sit. The wheel has many faces, but one body, one center only. This point,ʼ he pointed his toe, ʻis Hindu. This moment,ʼ he pressed my foot tightly to a facet so I knew the dyes, ʻis Catholic. One wheel.ʼ ʻOne way to the center.ʼ ʻFor a man who has three gods, your way is stingy.ʼ ʻOne god, three persons. One god.ʼ ʻA triangle you say.ʼ ʻTrinity.ʼ ʻBrahma, Vishnu, Shiva.ʼ ʻIt is not the same.ʼ ʻOne wheel.ʼ ʻOne way to the center.ʼ Pudmaʼs laughter hit high C I think then cascaded in guffaw. And it as much as tautology sent me back, back sprawled on the carpet

hysterically. The resistance of my breast to Pudmaʼs hands snapped my neck, my eyes open to his staring seriously. ʻYour eyes Thomas.ʼ ʻYes?ʼ ʻEach has an extra circle . . . ʻ and widened. ʻYes. Lenses. Contact lenses?ʼ I leaned up on elbows, averted to see Pudmaʼs erection strut his pantaloons. He flicked open a smaller rug and like the torero danced behind it, asked, ʻDo you like this?ʼ woven head of a buffalo upon the torso of a man. I shook my head. ʻ . . . if the girl keeps her head when actors in such masks terrify her, it is proven: only she is kumari. And so she remains until she bleeds from wounds or womanhood.ʼ ʻYes. But then?ʼ ʻShe retires rich and free to marry.ʼ ʻAs former goddess?ʼ ʻUnprepared to be the wife of a maker of rugs. Bad luck, it is said. Some say her husband must die young.ʼ ʻAnd so she lives alone?ʼ ʻShe marries such a one as I.ʼ ʻYes?ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻOne who does not believe.ʼ ʻOne who believes all: Kumari, she is kanya kumari, is Parvati, is shakti, is Shiva.ʼ ʻShe is Shiva?ʼ ʻShiva: Shiva Bhairav, Shiva Rudra, Shiva Mahadeva, Shiva Ishwara, Shiva Pashupati, Shiva the Destroyer, Shiva the Creator, Shiva the Lord, Lord Shiva, She is Shiva.ʼ Pudma moved to another roll. Unfurling a busy design spun round a copulation, Pudma

smiled, ʻYou know yab-yum? “Wine, flesh, fish, women, sexual union: these are the five-fold boons that remove all sin.”ʼ ʻTantra.ʼ ʻTantra. Feel the carpet twist now Thomas. The carpet Shiva. The wheel Tantra. Yab-yum with kumari, Shiva shakti who is Shiva: I touch god to weave kumari. With Shiva I am woven. Yab-yum: Shakti and man are threads. Now shall I worry to die when I am woven of Shiva?ʼ Pudmaʼs hands let the rug curl at my feet for as he chanted his hands let arcs meet as his legs, ʻThe cock you say.ʼ ʻNo.ʼ ʻYour word then.ʼ ʻTell me.ʼ ʻThe lingum: Shiva you see on our temples.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻ . . . everywhere carved in our valley.ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻYou see the lingum.ʼ ʼYes.ʼ His clothes lay with the carpets around his chest I saw beads and around his ankles. And with lingum flaired against the ventral plane I might believe the friezes that marked my path through his city. ʻYou will know god a way upon the Tantra? You will join me in god? Upon the mandala Thomas. Are you afraid still to bleed?ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻIt recalls death?ʼ ʻYes.ʼ ʻDoes god not bleed?ʼ ʻYes.ʼ” Thomas closed his eyes in silence,

lifted the cup and blessed before it he consumed. He wiped dry with his cuff. Had his tale ended? I wondered. “Go from me in peace. Where am I?” “The story?” “Yes.” “With god.” “In church?” “Then?” “Now!” “The Manglo Pub.” “With god?” “With me, babu Tom.” “I am beyond sin. More wine, I think. You will join me?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James Penha lives now in Jakarta, Indonesia. The author appreciates the prior appearance of some of these poems in the Black Tie Press anthology American Poetry Confronts the 1990s and in the journals Bristlecone, Hawaii Pacific Review, Verve, and Xenophilia.