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summertime duvet (cheese cloth melody)

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In 1996, Anne Brossard and I traveled around the globe. Anne was in the last stage of freedom before attending graduate school at Columbia, and I a photographer. And I wrote this poem about the oppressive heat of Singapore, which is nothing compared to DC funk.

sky pressing
choking gauze
cheese cloth
straining the river
of pepsi scrubbing
the concrete until
raw and crumbly
men and women scurry
follow zebra crossing
a humble existance where
you have a choice of bus
air-con or fresh air
fresh air, steeped in
cheese cloth is half-
price for the price of
bottled air or bottled
water of S$3.90 dbl
espressos does not endear
the coffee lover.
taxis are cheap and
plentiful but jump
50% after midnight and
i wonder whether it is
a slap on the hand for
those chinese who should
be sleeping merrily in
their flat, their washing
hanging out their window,
hanging from 30 storeys up,
waiting for the cheese cloth
to rub rub rub the clothing raw
with its saturated
thread bare chafe.
this is the land of the
transient businessman
all stationed in Hong Kong
to the business here, a pot of
gold a pot of tea all the tea
in china there is not just one
city, it is Singapore, Ho Chi Min
City, KL, Hong Kong, where the work
is done, Japan, Tai Pei, Beijing
and the flat is paid and the
car is paid and the phone is
paid and they simmer under suit
and tie under the stifling
cheese cloth, the heavy gauze
where the women still dress like
suzy wong but now it is not
suzy but esprit but esprit
where the form fitting dresses
highlighting boy's bodies perched
atop flyaway heels, or if not boy's
then the prepubescent with no hip,
and or butts, just creamy skin
and heavy hair and a language
sounding out like little silver
bells but one must miss the full
hips, the alabaster thighs, the soft
round belly and crescent navel,
the round arms and the heavy bust?
bodies like that hum up and down
the streets from abroad, sizzling
under the sun, cooking covered with
a silken strangling sheet, thighs
rubbing and underarms sticky
and soiling the frock.
meaty saucy forms pressed and
working from cafe to cafe from
orchard road shoppe to and from
marks & spencer from gucci to
a tall drink under automatic
fans at the long bar after a
long day and early night of
haggling hawking pressing and
rubbing, flirting, renouncing and
jouncing under the lightest of
fabrics held tight like the hair
in the french twist the wisps of hair
flyaway from barrettes and the lips
pout and i again feel the strangling
wanton desires transferred in the heat
and weight of the cloth covering the
Sweet Singapore like Summertime Duvet.

©1996 chris abraham

Jun 28, 1996 12:00 AM