Three Poems by Joseph Green

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Kon Tum Motorbike Taxi Driver 

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.

 

 

Come Again? 

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).

Photo of motorbikes in Viet Nam by Joseph Green.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.