says before the city fell he lived in Saigon. He says he is sorry his English is not better. He says he has more practice now with French. He says he used to be a professor of philosophy. He says that was before. . . and he waves his hand as if he were brushing away a bothersome fly. He says he went to America once. He says that was also before. . . and the same fly requires brushing away. He says he is sure you know what he is saying.
Drâa Valley Cemetery
Pounded flat by habit a narrow path leaves a pile of houses pulled from the ground brick on brick and crumbling back since the day they were made.
Beyond the last wall, sharp stones mark the ends of graves as if to say dry loss makes plain sorrow harder. Whatever grows there grows thorns, comes bent from the seed,
endures because it must. Because there is no real comfort in a coffin. Because there is no coffin at all, just someone wound in a shroud,
carried out from the town. Parched air hovers around the graves, and hoopoes probe the dirt between stones, stop and hold—then flash black wing stripes, bright topknots
into the green relief of the palmerie across the road. Its irrigated shade. New wheat coming up beneath the trees. Whatever you thought you were made of was never meant to last.
No matter where I go I think of somewhere else, some place I’ve traveled in the past. In Morocco, breathing dry Saharan air, I saw Sonora with its cactus and its dust.
If every single place must have its double and every double doubles-up the same, then here, with my elbows on this table, I could still be anywhere but where I am.
Joseph Green has been to Viet Nam three times, and he recently spent ten months in Morocco. At home in Longview, Washington, he prints letterpress broadsides at The Peasandcues Press. His most recent chapbook is That Thread Still Connecting Us (MoonPath Press, 2012).