Tea in a Bird Cage


I want back the change I gave you

for the batting cages

in Seoul.  You were too tall.

The balls were pitched

for Koreans, and it made me

impatient to see you swing

so hard at nothing.

When you'd finished you threw

down the bat, tried

to crawl out, and slammed

your forehead against the frame

of the door, cursing

as we handed back

your raspberry cotton candy.


Also, tea with live birds

was a bad idea.  At the Bird Cage

Cafe, in Insadong, we sat on fat

embroidered cushions as feathers

fell into our food.  As birds,

finches, whose red

and green iridescent beaks

made them look psychotic, flew

between us screaming.

We gave up talking, stirred

the honey that resembled

phlegm in our holy

mushroom tea, and studied

the color of dead chameleons.


There were several on the wall

beside us.  Just nailed there,

portentous.  You were demonstrating

your skill at eating grapes

with chopsticks, twisting

them off at the stem like some

bird that'd learned

a new tool.  Everyone else,

of course, had brains enough

to use their fingers.  But,

we had to admit, you did it

with style.  Our Korean friend snapped

your picture.  Later, she called you

"stupidest bird in cage."

Copyright © 1999-2017 Juked