Le Pacific Bar in Felix Pyat, the worst neighborhood in all of France. Thinking Jon Revusky and I were two lost tourists, the Moroccan barkeep kept ticking off all the beautiful sites around Marseille we should visit. What a sweet man.
I was born on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Christmas,
And my last name, Matusheski, means “God
Is with you,” something like that. Look across
The street, and what do you see? Take your time.
You say “Crown Chicken, Angelo’s Pizza and King
Gyro”? No, buddy, it says “Crown Angel King,” and
That’s no coincidence, because this city of Camden
Knew I was coming. Before this, I was in Skid Row,
In Los Angeles. You been there? No, it’s no mess!
It may be aesthetically unsound, but not for long,
For the meek will inherit the earth, and that’s why
I leave my vault of gold and my castles unclaimed.
I don’t even know where they are. Doesn’t matter!
I lack nothing. I’ve eaten today. I’m not hungry.
I’m really a Rothschild, but I’ve disowned them.
This morning, while shaving, I saw Jesus
In the mirror, and though He said nothing,
I understand a 15.0 earthquake is coming
That will swallow everything up, for this
Is utterly unacceptable! Prepare yourself.
“Take these Mexicans, they live
Ten to a house. Some of them
Only have one bathroom to share,
So what do they do? They must piss
In the sink or outside, and there’s
Only so much hot water, you know,
In the morning, so someone must take
A cold shower, or fuck, no shower before
Going to work, and they do work hard.”
“Check this out. Yesterday I was stopped
At the corner of 4th and Arch, and there was
This Chinese girl, maybe 14. It’s hard to tell
With them, you know, no offense, and she was
Crossing the street, while talking on the phone,
But she had a set of keys and some money
In her hand, like this, and this black chick
Just knocked it out of her hand, and as
The Chinese girl bent down to pick it up,
The black chick just stepped on her hand,
Then took the money and ran! There were
All these people there, and I was in my van,
So I leaned out and shouted, ‘Yo! Yo! Yo!
What the fuck are you doing?’ And you know
What the black chick said? ‘Shut up, white boy,
Finders keepers!’ The Chinese girl looked like
She was about to cry, but now she knows. Never
Show your money, not in this city. Finders keepers!”
“I drank all night, took some Xanax this morning,
And I’m drinking again. Fuck, I must be nervous.
I’ve got a date tomorrow, and I’m already fucked.”
“Yeah, man, I’m beat, nervous and fuckin’ stressed.
I met with my new landlord this morning. I just hope
He won’t look at my credit too closely. I hope
He won’t call my last fuckin’ landlord. I hope
We can move into this house. I’ve got two kids,
You know, and this is a safe neighborhood.”
“Did you know coal came from outer space?
I heard it in the news, APR, but everything
Is already carbon anyway. That’s all we are.
We came from coal, that’s right, and we’ll become
Coal, again, after we’re dead. It’s like recycling.”
Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.