I recently relocated to San Antonio and am adjusting to life as a Texan. Some of my poems have appeared recently in such journals as The Broken Plate, The Comstock Review, Exit 7, Main Street Rag, and The Meadow. Amsterdam Press published a chapbook of my poems entitled The Arboriculturist in 2010. Check out my author's page on Facebook or go to my blog at http://www.michaelminassian.com you-all!
The Fortune Teller
On the streets of Seoul,
fortune tellers sit cross legged
next to birdcages
on the blank sidewalk:
the bottom of the cage strewn with tiny scrolls,
and on a perch a single
white finch with clipped feathers.
I lean down to ask how much
and nod at the price,
handing her the bills folded like the pages of a book
The fortune teller speaks a single Korean word,
and the bird hops down,
taking a scroll in its beak
which is quickly removed and unrolled.
“You will have long life,” she says
“and make your living with words.
Your parents very happy with your choices,
but a neighbor is jealous.”
But when I urge her to go on,
she gets angry, barking
at the bird, causing it to hop
from leg to leg on the perch,
then hang from the side
of the cage and look over its shoulder.
“Take the bird and leave,” she says,
opening the cage and thrusting the startled finch
into my hands. “Take money, too,” then changes
her mind and snatches the bills back.
I am left standing with the finch
and cannot walk with it in my hand
or find room in my pockets,
so let it sit on my tongue,
opening my mouth to let it breathe
and selling fortunes to anyone who will listen.
-Originally published in Diverse Voices Quarterly, 2014.
Three Days after the Fourth of July
Three days after the 4th of July
there are no signs of rebellion,
only a rain soaked dawn,
the air as thick as wet bread,
the sky the color of black tea.
Across the street, a door flies open;
my neighbor in shorts, t-shirt,
& flip flops walks in circles on his lawn,
spilling whiskey & scattering ice cubes
like precious stones along
the path leading to his garage.
He waves at me
like a drowning man
signaling for a life jacket.
“Hey,” he yells, “don’t write
this shit down.” And I want
to tell him to write his own life
backwards if that will help,
to pass the point where
he can see the future.
“One more nail in the coffin,”
my neighbor yells as he lights
a cigarette and I retreat indoors,
pretending to surrender,
waving my notebook like a white flag,
spreading across the wide continent.
-Originally published in New Ulster Magazine, March 2016.
©2016 Michael Minassian