By James Strauss

Chinatown speaks if you pay close attention
In the heart of an island filled with contention
The haoles are white but black by nickname,
Tourists included but locals fair game.

An island of flowers and music idyllic,
English that’s spoken might as well be Cyrillic.
Visit and play but make sure that you leave,
Locals throw leis but they’re not meant to grieve.

A woman from China grows Madarins,
And I stop there weekly to pay for my sins.
I’d killed and dismembered what I thought were her kind
Wrong on her country but guilt push resigned.

She looked into my eyes hers wrinkled and dull,
She saw deep inside my ship’s damaged hull.
I paid too much although not enough,
Having no choice is no longer that tough.

Each evening I eat only one Mandarin,
Next to my wife drinking tonic and gin,
Wondering why her husband eats fruit,
Instead of relaxing while consuming a root.

Chinatown speaks if you pay close attention,
Filled with others the woman can’t mention,
She sells her fruit a line forming up
With others like me who drink from her cup.

The Mandarin’s play no music delight,
As I sit on the stoop into the night.The fruit’s a song I don’t understand,
But the message I know is written in sand.

Mandarins can’t forgive what they don’t know,
Only the sand with changing winds blow.
What happened back then stays as it is written,
Mandarins taste soft but in my mind, I’m still bitten.



Audio Version