Ha Kiet Chau

A Mélange at 12:19

Nirvana is closed. We detour past the teahouse
on the corner of Herb and Westwood, racing
like indigo children up the Janss Steps.
A magical, razzle-dazzle night on top of the city.
If we count backwards from z to a, it’s possible
to levitate and touch Neptune’s 14 moons.
Electricity, we feel it all night, we feel it
blazing inside a kerosene lamp, in murmurs
and sighs, in air kisses and au revoirs.
Rub your palms against the magenta sky,
it won’t hurt. Cool off as conversation
blooms like French roses, skittle sweet.
Ask me to be your empress.
I’ll wear your Napoleon crown.
The night paces like a movie, we improvise
like Bogart and Bacall.
Unscripted banter. Natural chemistry.
They call this movie magic— a mélange
of rhyme and ultraviolets.
Sum up the night in two syllables: profound.
Flip a sandglass upside down. Rewind.
I want six more minutes to marvel
at fireflies glowing in the dark, wings slick
as oil and lava.
Let’s not look for a happy ending.
There’s more to our story. Fast forward.
If we walk past a café named Intermezzo
at 12:19, mandolins will play
the perfect melody.
We’re not touching, but I think I’ve touched
you before sometime in the 17th century
on a gondola in Paris.
We take the long route home.
Music tinkles. Zephyr and dandelions drift.



Language Fluid as Milk

Conversing about Cham art in a café uptown, we tremble.
Glare of candlelight, the moon at twilight, your lips tremble.

Glass clinking, words and jazz mingling, latte brewing,
me and you sip hot mocha, your lips tremble.

We talk spirituality until daybreak, I’m consciously
awake, teach me purpose, your lips tremble.

Language fluid as milk, translate the word dazzling
into Vietnamese for me, your lips tremble.

Loosen your polka dot tie, undo the knot, tell me the name
of the monk praying on a mountaintop, your lips tremble.

Tap your cigarette in my ashtray, blow smoke, tell me
in detail The Tale of Kieu, your lips tremble.

Emotion in your voice moves up and down like sun rising
at 6 am, sun dropping at 6pm, your lips tremble.

Mocha aftertaste on my tongue, mumble tam biet
at the last hour of conversation, your lips tremble.

Three winters zip by like bicycles in Saigon.
Eyes shut, I see rice fields, I see brown rivers, I see your lips tremble.

Romancing a reflection on a café window, lean closer,
say Darling, I’m not a figment, your lips tremble.




Ha's_photo-1Ha Kiet Chau teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay area. Her poems have been published in Ploughshares, Reunion: The Dallas Review, New Madrid, and Columbia College Literary Review, among others. She is a recipient of the 2014-2015 UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Scholarship. Her chapbook, Woman Come Undone, is available from Mouthfeel Press. For more of her work, visit her at http://hapoetryblog.tumblr.com/

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