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Brianna Lee

From a Bangkok Hostel

These paperthin walls don't
shield much; I hear the clinking of
pen against glass cup and Thai
drama television three floors
below through the cracked white
paint of this Bangkok hostel

Somewhere I am sure that in this
room where three other girls lie
peacefully, the bed frames are
creaking with my heart
palpitations, steady like drops
of water along sidewalk gutters.

We are swallowed somewhere in
this noise, this chaos of light and
voices and frantic hand gestures, a
race through highways and night
bazaars and sex and two fifty
bargains and pouring rain

while home is crumbling beneath
our feet, stumbling and splitting and
splintering until it looks nothing like
it once was, an indecipherable mass
of words and pictures, a mutilated
filmstrip slashed and unidentified

So I cannot understand how this happens:
how we walk out of our homes,
how we kiss the walls and run our palms
against smooth doorknobs, desperately making
last minute mental pictures: the sway of the
steel wind chime, peeling wallpaper,
chipped mug -- how we hop from bus to
plane across street, city, country border
only to turn around and find windswept
remains, and what we left has left us:

family members rushing a father to
the emergency room,

a hurricane that sprang from underneath,
clutched the corners of a city and
uprooted with one furious pull,

the drone of a dial tone after he tells me
he's found someone else

This helplessness is all consuming; it
gorges and devours and infects this room
eyes blazing, tongue salivating, teeth
pointed and ready and searching
for the next kill, a raging whirlwind
of nerves and heartache and insomnia

underneath, the stillness
that drapes its tendrils around the edges of
this cracked room like a vortex,
a gaping white mouth;
while my heart is quiet: a pulsing red drum.

Above this exquisite silence, a spider
poised on the ceiling

outside, the
beeping of cars, the wafting of cigarette

below, the ring of a cash register,
a sidelong murmur,
a television hum.

©2008 by Brianna Lee

For more information about Brianna Lee, see her Web site.

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