[Chinese restaurant. Salsa music on the radio. MUSCULAR CHINESE CHEF in white apron behind bar at far wall. Kitchen Door on left. Eight very big tables. FOUR GORGEOUS WOMEN--bubbling with sexuality mostly found in third world countries (or is it innocence?)—lean against the wall next to Kitchen Door.]
The pretty & friendly one
brings reheated tea
& on first sip.
reggae green spirals
Aztec-walk up my sleeves
out tea spout.
My pages turn micro-flesh
mini Aztecs violent
as the large ones
right in front of me;
a man in a feathered headdress
draws an obsidian blade
through the bare chest
of another. He collapses
on my plate. Blood drips
from his body like soy sauce
from clear packets.
They vanish beneath a cloud—
a waft of smoke from a passing
sizzling Szechwan special—
here come the Mayab
elegant, solemn, glyphic
—like the writer.
One nods, de-robes &
brandishes an enormous
jaguar-spotted cock & balls.
A pretty girl dives in spicy mustard salsa spilling some
she resurfaces, waves & shakes her hair out like a dog
mustard splatters, it overflows from the salsa dish
Xalai? I ask, she nods.
She’s more beautiful than
my mind’s previous incarnations
Ta’ak is hauling salt crystals
as big as his body across my woven place setting
Waxi crawls through my noodles
Xalai bows & smiles lasciviously.
Ta’ak dumps salt beside my plate.
He picks a crystal—the lines shine prismatic
on his face, orange through blue
—& places the luminous salt as a seat
but Waxi, instead of sitting,
steals an ı (the lower part of an i) from an i
on my page, spears it
through his lobe as an earring
the waitress comes. They vanish
delicate, so delicate & on my page
—all my letters are missing!
Waxi you thief! Bring back my letters.
The white consumes the page like the Pequod
I find I’m screaming, bring them back
—people are looking.
The Chinese chef pounds his fist into his palm,
a waitress comes running with a teapot,
opens the cover, where I expect to see tea
there are letters, granite ones, peeled from the page
beveled and contoured
like boulders to go into micro-pyramids
strewn on porcelain kettle-ground.
The letters land in cup
“They are out of sequence,” I say
K stands up, angry, with its bent knee in a Judo crouch
I cover my eyes—expecting the blow
“So,” the waitress says.
Here she puts them down like this.
I find K’s offense is merely defense.
“Not bad,” I say. “Nor are you,” she takes my arm
& puts hers through mine
like we were to walk through a sunset
or have an old movie fade out
with her free arm she gathers letters
in her cupped hand
—destroying this very work in the process—
& puts them back in the kettle
she’s a good waitress
she pours them into my cup
“Toma, it’s good for you.”
I drink the letters
during the rainy season
in a puddle
rainwater fills a gash
in an elephantagenous Ceiba trunk
where pollywogs have turned tadpole
& swim in leaf-coated pond
eighty-seven days later
frogs bounce out.
The letters burn within me
like mezcal with the worm
this is the process of nourishment
an inner explosion
a creative cosmic serpent
out my esophagus
into a napkin
(We must have manners)
& calmness—immense & total
sits on my eyelids
like One Crocodile
I nearly sleep.
But open the napkin
to find this novella-in-verse—
as you read it