Mah Jong


Poong! headlong crash,
multiple pileup, imploded
but rebuilt

eight hands conjure
a symmetrical fortress of tiled ivory
without sky-piercing towers
guarded from the tortoise,
tiger, dragon, and bird
by four vigilant sentries.

No one but
the Empress Dowager
can intrude.


That furtive night,
under green windblown bamboo,
beneath loquacious parakeets
wooing singsongy wildflowers,
she lies nervously still,
her plump face yellowly radiant.

I smell papaya
and turn to devour her youth.

Not so far away
we hear transluscently
white elephants stampede.


Seated inside,
herky jerky
the too-old-to-ride yellow school bus
across Edisto Drive,
a Norman Rockwell canvas
painted on plate glass,
your basic Saturday Evening Post cover

of her somnabalate
Venus Flytrap mouth
and Third Uncle Chi hammocked
between two red vinyl studded chairs

sits atop formica,
like a glossy 8x10 frame.

I walk in past the plastic flora,
the folding table set up,
two minutes before Kam Mee Chow
and his telltale customized Lincoln Continental
with handicapped-equipped steering column.

In the smoke-filled backroom
he unzips the brown briefcase
and pauses

when jaundiced ivory squares,
fettered like a Georgian chain gang,
grin at him, bucktoothed.


Upstairs on the third floor,
geriatric Garden of Eden,

stabbing clacks jabber out through
half-open screened windows,

a house-sized loudspeaker
emitting high-pitched tweeter static
into the balmy summer dusk.