Sunday, 3 February 2008

Ubud, Bali

In Bali tourists overrun hideaways, beering each other in open-air gardens
then following us into empty cafes
as if one of us brought a badge of edibility to the mahogany.
They close in on our friendliness like lines of ants to breadcrumbs
in Hansel and Gretel; one says in a deep French accent
how the tiramisu is to die for,
how she would love to stick her tongue right down into the bowl
but for decorum—but the thought still slips out its crucible;
we’re all plagued by it now, tongues locked in mock hunger
given the high Euro. I hail from Taiwan now,
where we smile a tad more like locals,
barter to the last rupee and usually eat in local eateries.
An Aussie at the Internet café talks up his poverty (at home)
as an excuse for the frown motif, in charge, swiveling armor.
No one cares. The seriousness bursts
only in taxi drivers waiting too long for a gig.
A man my age in an azan cap eyes me
as if my friendliness meant I’d stolen something,
though I came with friends and have no interest in his women or men.
I want to be Moslem just to make him feel better,
but it is a Hindu island and I leave it to him to work it out—
maybe join me—in leaving America to the dogs,
lost causes, ideas that broke after too much petroleum,
old habits from bachelorhood and later nightmarish fads
like edible underwear, Pop Tarts,
or the convenience of quickie marriages
to make thinks all ok again
after Barbie walked by.
The world is smaller in the worst ways.
Laundry wires in from any hard drive.
The cameras have even made it into villages
with broken open sewer covers still to get to.
In the meantime, the general says now’s no time for elections.
Don’t worry; he is fine. Everyone should be so
important and watch the waiting,
build their gait up as well, more panic
and a gathering entourage to do things
while we work on our lists
when no one is at the nails.

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