Tattoos in Mayberry


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they come in, they don't care.
They swim in the pool. Guard up.
A Berlin Wall lies between them
and letting it all hang out.
You can safely fly your freak flag around here.
I want you to know you can
You are safe here, China men to 
shower as long as you care to. 
Leave toilet towels in the drains.
not take a shower before entering the 
public baths.No demerits.
Free country now, finally in the free land.
Soak it up Chinaman...
you watch me, and wait,
.you have time,.
you wait for man's brutal nature
A. brutality that never comes
The world and everyone in it is dangerous
You will again prove us right, somehow, someday.
And, to be watched and in preparation to defend your position or flee.
I am not so different than you Chinaman.
We've both run away, having  been through a wringer.
Not trying to get attention
you wear the minimal bathing equipment.  As if you're dressing to
hit the showers at Auchwitz. Grey boxer shorts
off white briefs.
No flash, no frills. 
Like there's a run on conformity that no longer applies.
I want to scream out at you, it's ok to wear a purple speedo.
The latest in aquatic equipment, but,
you smell the napalm by the rice patties.
Agrarian, craft people..
Your life is none of anybody else's business.
Certainly not Gai-Jin
But, I notice your subtle nuances, your ticks
your neck straining hard in defiance.

The women like to watch me.
They are looking to see what makes me tick..
I think these people did very poorly under heavy surveillance 
in their home countries. But, it's all they know.
They couldn't take the security detail breathing down their necks
They don't understand not being brutalized tortured, stripped of the privacy 
identity, and ripped from their cultures,
Lost sailors, watching me for clues.
I give my assurance bobbing my head easily up and down in the water
It's ok to relax. To let the water take you.
Not to have an immediate destination or plan.
Maybe wimming gives atonement, forgiveness
an absolution in the cleansing waters
I am a water bug Nothing, a ripple in the pond..
I can't engage them in conversation,since
they may not know my language 
as they don't speak mandarin to  me.
Their women who use the hot tub,
they bring their children to lounge around with them
Usually, fresh faced,  teenaged girls.
A man might bring  his son.
The children are fit, do many laps,
generally aloof
and 
attractive,
They grin as the old ones are watching.
Always watching. waiting for the inevitable crash
the falling of the sky. What, from experience, they expect life to bring them.
A rights of passage for something big to happen  
bringing with them their best  big hopeful 
new world smiles
But, nothing big ever happens
stll they watch and wait watching
out of the corner of their eyes
Watching us Americans,
with Peking wonder and Pyongyang suspicion.
I look over at the china men,and their women 
and I have wondered what each one of their back stories are
As they stare back at me
maybe they wonder the same.
I'm a slow loris languishing in the pool.
We both are patient 
for the chinaman to finish with us,
conclude his walk up and down our lane.
and I let him know he has the right of way.
I stay wide right in the lane 
where he's wide left.
I look over at him as if to say.
safe passage.
There's room enough for here.
furthering common goals
to strengthen 
our bodies in the pool
I feel we have a mutually, unspoken understanding.
As soon as we make eye contact 
sharing this implicit understanding.,
he swims away into another lane.
Allowing the two of us to swim together,
which was our original and enduring plan,
We  don't know his back story. he doesn't know ours.
His may involve diaspora
due to warfare,
or counter intelligence value.
He may have made critical decisions 
saving the  civilized world
from horrid things.
or maybe he's a former  strong man, or slave monger, 
maybe some mad scientist, 
or on interpol's most wanted.
A   former pirate on the high seas now
a land locked raging alcoholic.
Maybe he has nightsweats from his life as a soldier in Red China
or as a cadet in one of it's suburbs, 
Pyongyang North Korea..
So, China men, who swim in the pool,
I honor you and accept you
as you do the same to me.
May God Bless you and best of luck in your
next living chapter  in America. a safe haven
and new home for all precious souls and your beautiful children
here retooling your book of life.









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