width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
Winter / Spring 2013


Burgess Needle


Everything is in Flux

I conjectured it was the end of Time
when I awoke with not one but two
previously unheated meals from different
restaurants close by
both on one large platter poised on a pillow
ready for my consciousness.
One, from the very beautiful Ferry Building
included lamb boulettes dusted with pecorino
nestled in a loose weave of spaghetti
all organic, artisanal, personally crafted
just for me.
The other from an excellent fish place
in the Castro was shrimp in garlic. 
Waste not want not, I thought, as I
cleaned it all away asking myself what
I would do when I returned from the gym.
As things turned out, I made a rib eye
roast by rubbing in kosher salt
ground peppercorns, pressed garlic and rosemary
on a fine piece of meat already thinking
of the excellent crusty bread, horseradish and 
ground mustard to go with it, along, of course,
with chilled pickles and baked chips.
Everything is in flux waiting for food
to heat, for Time to straighten itself
out and my brain to decide on the
fractals of life. Am I here or there?
My kitchen window is open wide enough
so the madman who inhabits the tiny park
might wonder if the aroma he picks up is
real or just part of his olfactory psychoses.
We can imagine his dialogue with himself:
Would it be better to go with mayo or mustard?
Maybe even horseradish, he asks, spreading
Imaginary condiments in the air then wondering
Oh, should I go with Odessa rye or Italian pugliese?
It could not possibly be the end of Time.
Perhaps only the end of time.

© 2013 Burgess Needle



Strange Proof

During a soft Asian afternoon
the foreigner balanced for the umpteenth
time over the omnivorous squat john.
He stared surprised at the usually blank wall
            a neatly drawn triangle
            an equation:    
                        a2 + b2 = c2   
“My teacher!”
The voice of Wisai
            a student who collected
            water from the town’s well
            delivered it to his clay urn.
 “I did not erase it,” he told the boy. 
“Thank you, my teacher.
Your bathroom is very nice.
I did some homework there
while I…you know.”
“Yes,” the American nodded. “I know.”
The boy returned a brilliant smile.
“I brought fresh water while
you were sleeping”
The foreigner smiled.
“I didn’t think a ghost did it.”
The Thai word for ghost
      is pii [rising tone] 
Once when his house creaked
       the foreigner call out:     
Pii? Is that you, Pii?
His roommate not at all amused.
“A ghost is more real than a dream,”
He chided the foreigner.
The other teachers were not surprised
when the American told
them his house was haunted
by a Greek ghost named
  A name the Thais 
            found impossible to pronounce.

© 2013 Burgess Needle



Everything I Wanted

There we were, my roommate
Wisut and myself in a bus filled
            with adolescent Thai students 
            on the way to Saraburi Province.
Wind blew dust upon creaking carts
            with solid wooden wheels
            drawn by water buffalo, swaying
Saffron parades of monks and spiked durian
            encased in nets ready
            to catch the precious fruit.
Our destination in Phutthabat District: 
            The Temple of Buddha’s Footprint.
Bells surrounded the compound.
Legend says:
            ring every bell and gain Buddha’s attention.
I tapped each and every bell
            dropped ten baht in the pot 
            next to a sleeping monk and a sign:
But I did not make a wish.
I already had
            everything I wanted.

© 2013 Burgess Needle


Burgess Needle’s work has appeared in: Black Market Review (UK), Connotation Press, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink, Blackbox Manifold (UK), Concho River Review, Raving Dove, Boston Literary Magazine, Istanbul Literary Review[Turkey], Decanto (UK), Centrifugal Eye, Iodine, Prick of the Spindle, The Camel Saloon, Flutter, Origami Condom, Ken*Again, Under the Radar [UK] Kritya (India), Prism Review, Snow Monkey, Brittle Star (UK), Gutter Eloquence, Blue Lake Review, Eunoia Review, Minotaur, Nutshell Magazine (UK), Clockwise Cat, DeComp Magazine, Peacock on-line Review, and Red Fez. Diminuendo Press published his poetry collection: EVERY CROW IN THE BLUE SKY. @. 2009. He taught English for two years in Nang Rong, a small village in northeast Thailand for the Peace Corps, been a co-director of the Southern Arizona Writing Project, co-published and edited Prickly Pear/Tucson [a poetry quarterly] for five years and was a school librarian for thirty years. He lives in Tucson with his wife, Barbara.

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