by Richard Oyama


I live now in a land of ritual courtesies.
There is gentleness, mi compañera. Is it that way in


The ghost world? Girls thumb their devices,
Ride sidesaddle, are immaculate. The corner


Mobs with motos. They ask Where you go, no
Tense in phasaa Thai. The night trembles


Like a neon dragon. This is no paradise,
Except in the pure land elsewhere. It finds


Residence in the heart, making merit for an
Auspicious rebirth—a tiger, an elephant. You


Showered immaterial balm of
Lovingkindness, assuming your place


With Cassiopeia and the seven sisters.


RICHARD OYAMA’S work has appeared in Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry, The Nuyorasian Anthology, Breaking Silence, Dissident Song, A Gift of Tongues, About Place, Konch Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Tribes, Malpais Review, Anak Sastra and other literary journals. The Country They Know (Neuma Books 2005) is his first collection of poetry. He has a M.A. in English: Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Oyama taught at California College of Arts in Oakland, University of California at Berkeley, and University of New Mexico. His first novel in a trilogy, A Riot Goin’ On, is forthcoming.


Photo: “Thailand 2004” by Pedro Pimentel