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Poetry

In America

for Bob Mott, after decades among refugees

Michael Lauchlan

On a night when you dozed and woke
against a window, you walk into the cold
black of some flat town where no one
would know if you crumpled into a ditch
or got beamed away by aliens. But you don’t.
You wait, swallow your tea, lean
against the terminal and watch exhaust
coalesce behind the bus. This is not lush
Cambodia, where you fed infants in camps,
wrapped legs or stumps when mines
blew kids into the sky, and marched
for peace with saffron monks, though
Maha Ghosananda scared you shitless,
by calling you Christ. Here, you wait
in the absolute Ohio of the mind,
lacking end or beginning, framed by trucks,
stars, diners, a road, and the vast
American hunger you don’t get,
nibbling each day your one ball of rice,
cupping your takeout tea
like a handful of smoke.

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