Why don't I see you double, because I have two eyes
                and I can see you in each one by itself?

                         Eeny   Meeny   Miny   Mo
                          big-fisted in one eye
                          big-livered in the other
                                 backdated in two memory out-takes

                          mother said you're a friendly     half-gweilo1
                                too hoed-out to be dangerous
                               just like that youth of Lingyang2
                                they called him                     fool
                                because he smelled like stale stogies
                                wearing a soiled silk handkerchief
                                   over his face     hiding         some actor's
                                   moustache coal   smudged on upper lip

                          he brought a plinth of curved jade
                          to the emperor         who ordered
                                  his feet       removed
                                  preserving the toes
                                  like stubby lozenges
                                  to remind the eunuchs
                                         how shrunken        life is        in the morning
                                                 when they run for cover
                                                                to the citipati3          shouting

                                                  om! ma-ni pad-me Hum!...4

                                                                   lit-tle loser
                                                                     heard too many times
                                                                        is imprinted under your skin
                                                                        as you inflict another stranglehold
                                                                            hard throw
                                                                                           over your fraternal-brother
                                                                         born 2nd     you grin     thinking he's fine-tarsal
                                                                            like Princess Lenore5
                                                                            holding her thumbnail up to measure
                                                                            the moon         believing
                                                                            she can put it on a keychain
                                                                                just because    it was the size of a quarter
                                                                                you found in the park    passing it to him
                                                                                with a  pah

                                                                                     how could you not see
                                                                                     why he laughed then punched out
                                                                                       your gonchong6 faces since
                                                                                         neither isolation nor companionship
                                                                                                 could move you from
                                                                                     your halting-space


                                                                              hair-trigger roots are prehensile
                                                                              remanding fear        on a roll of 1 on one die
                                                                              but a roll of 2 on the other        waits in repose.

1gweilo, "white ghost." This is a somewhat derogatory term used to describe Caucasian individuals (Cantonese).
2Lingyang, a young man from Lingyang presented a piece of jade to the King of Chu (770-476 BC); but the king, not recognizing its value, chopped off the donor's feet in anger.
3citipati, "dancing skeletons." This happy sculptural skeletal pair from 17th century Tibet are dancing upon a sea of blood, holding in their well-filled skull caps the blazing fire of wisdom which consumes evil in the unity of duality, merging the finite with the infinite.
4Om! ma-ni pad-me Hum!, is often translated literally as "Hail to the Jewel of the Lotus!" It is also interpreted as "Hail to Man's Overself!" a state where there is no death.
5Princess Lenore, is the primary character in James Thurber's Many Moons, which recounts the efforts of a king to nurse his daughter to health by fulfilling her wish to acquire the moon.
6gonchong, a mythological cruel parasite which takes control of the brain of its victim and uses it to commit all manner of atrocities.
7Dongyuemiao, "temple of the Eastern peak" is a notable Chinese structure built in the early twentieth century, which used extremely gruesome tableaux to depict the tortures that await the sinner's soul in various Daoist hells.

Louise Bak