Travel & Transitioning
Haggling at Clarke Quay
I keep my humour,
the proprietor his –
jovial but firm.
The joke an antiquity,
punch-line a rumour.
The Quay plainly put:
bent at this juncture.
More aesthete than buyer
the argument’s won
in looking farther
afield. Or flattering
his smoking gun –
drawn from cloth,
dust jacket cracking:
jaundiced early eighties
erotica. More aesthete
than buyer I ask after
Despotic kitsch, busts
and pins I should care
less about, nor humour.
He starts at twenty,
I work my way down
– jovial but firm –
something of my taste
for the “early eighties”
in Mao’s receding hair-line.
He’s not exactly speaking my language, eyeing
himself in the side-board mirror. Sticky rice
queen slumming it, not exactly singing – to me.
His face, the choreographed collective of the duo
on screen, signing its availability to already
established markets. Pre-pubescent mandarin
breaking into even more underdeveloped English:
ooh baby, baby. For all his grasp, its perfunction –
open the window. Ooh open the window, aah open
the window. Someone else’s standard in a bar filled
with mirrors, singletted, tank topped, body shirted like
so much peanut flesh encased in shell. He holds the mic
like a phallus, my gaze for like seconds and the room
choruses ad lib to fade: will any of us have a career
over thirty, will any of us have a career over thirty –