Danny Thanh Nguyen
These eyes have seen Osaka
Ganguro girls with
golden blond braids of fried
hair on sun burnt faces, caked with
bike reflector glowing meiku-apu;
adorned by cartoon hamsters miniskirts --
Every Body loves a dig dream.
Fight-o, Fight-o, Fight-o, cheered my
host family, with arm-hoops raised above
their heads in approving acceptance for
Kyoto's baseball BICTORY!
Just three weeks ago, we carried heavy baggage
through the terminal's paralyzing
mucky air in Kansai.
Red smiling lipstick so bright on stewardesses, the
taste of hot noodles will never slip from the
canyons of taste buds. Stationery and candy for only
your life savings --
We are happi. We are good. Dericious! Taste!
-- and a language that would never be found
in the classrooms back home.
I smile when confused, I laugh when confused
and then let slip a low husky groan of uhn, uhn,
when they asked me something,
I don't know what.
You should see Amerika Village at night,
it is not the same under the dancing summer sun
baked in fragrant octopus balls and gooey, sticky cakes
filled with red bean that bite and pinch
your cheeks with its sweetness. Oishiiyo!
They sell clothes even an
acid-induced, obscure-chic, New York
designer couldn't dream up. I walk back to train station, section 6
and bump shoulders with sumimasens and gomenasais. The
cart poster screams, !New Improvment! Chicky Life!
Three more stops, and a transfer to go...
This bag reads Tank You 4 Bying.
A drowning man
will catch at a s-
traw. oh my got!
Box two, in golden bag.
cu.In c'mon subar, come back to me she said "balls to you, big daddy"
327 350 485
Plastic red bag.
One. gray-white shirt:
There are = no relations in the
race/and both which rest who are
maintaining one's life + the world
each without interfering...
(An English teacher's worst nightmare)
You are not fat, Kebin-san, does that come
later? Do you have a gaaru-friend? Do you have
gun? Do gaaru-friend have gun?
Hothead Japanese punkers
bright hair of pink. blue. purple. red.
shake hands of exchange students with
laughter, bellowing their skills of language.
Hambaagaa. Isu-creemu. Amerika Caalchaa!
and you all delight in their mocking admiration
for the Americans on display.
But when we go home -- to the States I guess --
I speak like a gaijin, cannot bow like them
or say MakudoNarudo, but McDonald's instead.
Me learned read Engrish.
Danny Thanh Nguyen is one-third of the literary-trash phenomenon "DJ Berkley" and a founding member of the Vietnamese Artist Collective. As a senior editor for the non-profit HIFY, he teaches writing and 'zine-making workshops for young people. His work has appeared in Transfer and Rudolf's Diner, among other publications. "Engrish" is his first published poem. Danny lives in San Francisco and feels silly talking in the third person. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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