James Himelsbach

(United States)

Underground


Here in this port city
where the petrochemical plant
leaks fluorocarbons into the air,
blistering the salmon sky, he speaks
French with the minister of trade
in the Tomb of the Last Sultan.

He can't concentrate in any language.
He hears calypso music bubbling up
from a steel drum player on a subway platform
in Manhattan while regretting
a casual kiss that lingered too long
in a tunnel near Kowloon Harbor, Hong Kong.

His brain is a jumble of local customs,
odd costumes, & money under the table
in villages where the free market explodes
into carnival light; yet wherever he goes,
the same beggar with the missing fingers
accosts him under every bridge.

Tomorrow, he'll do business in a country
where the currency is worthless,
a scorched terrain where the principal exports
are copper, nickel, & zinc,
another continent where everything
of value resides underground.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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