the last sin
  pale ashen sky
a bleary eye
clouds of recurring screams...
i am a zoo
  an octopus leviathan
tentacles into an ocean
of unformed emotions...
syphilis and love  
  syphilitic pall
stifles the clear blue
i contort...
shell and pearl
  amidst highs and lows
in life's ocean flows
a shell peony-mouthed...
i am an unmarried mother
  fed on stings
of barbed milk morality
my child-plankton...
the lovers
  cell upon cell
bridge of their union
hung on the pillars...
  ogre of age
and time cavil
at a warm picture...
the young today
  innocence thaws
at the altar
of ambition...

An evening in Shanghai

We were near Fang Bang Zhong Lu
Call it the Old Shanghai Street
Shanghai of the yore romancing
Beckoning us, on a turn we found ourselves
Accosted by two young Chinese girls
Taller of them came up to me and said:
“Hello, Sir, please have a look at our shop,
Best bargains there”
When we showed our unwillingness, she persisted
“Ok, just have a look, don’t buy”
There was something in her manner
That made us relent

And so we went like confused tourists
To this gigantic but unpretentious shopping mall
Replete with kiosks and elevators
An assembly line for bargain hunters
A paradise for Chinese silks and almost perfect Rolex
And Mont Blanc fakes
We went because we didn’t want to disappoint the girls
And ended up buying golden and silver bedcovers,
Exquisitely embroidered tops, gowns and pillowcases,
And ink paintings on paper and silk
Our bags got heavier and numerous
The girls cheerfully carried the shopping
To the Old Shanghai Street

On the way we stopped and took pictures
Of the girls with our phone cameras
“Hey, watch out for that bus”, said Angela
Twenty-one, streaks of blonde and copper in her hair
With lovely green eyes, Angela, quieter of the two
Joanna, twenty, cropped blonde hair with brown streaks, perkier
 “Do you have boyfriends?” my wife asked
Both giggled a shy “no”
They worked as sales agents and were friendly and easygoing
At the majestic Old Shanghai Street they helped us pick
More silk paintings, Jade sculptures, Shanghai magnets, Dragon ties

Shopping over I invited them
For a drink at a Bar
It wasn’t exactly on a spur
This led to an animated discussion
And we decided to drop off our shopping
At our hotel, the regal St. Regis, and prowl the city
For an authentic nightlife experience
That’s how we discovered
The bustling Hengshan Road
A sprawling promenade dotted with bars
From burlesque to intimate
We settled for a Red Indian bar
Over peanuts and potato chips we conversed
The girls had transformed from efficient salesgirls
To young maidens with stars in their eyes
The band belted Chinese pop
And the tall slightly built
Female vocalist with low rise jeans
Sang soulfully of lost love
The girls decoded the songs for us
I tried Tsingtao Chinese beer, found it rather light
And quickly switched to Budweiser

We talked about love and longing in Shanghai
The girls exchanged phone numbers with us
More camera phone pictures followed
Angela whispered to me: “Your wife is so beautiful”
And I gave her a hug, it felt nice
It was around midnight
We had an early morning flight to catch for Bangkok

The girls ensured they put us in a safe taxi…

10 December 2006