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   a m e r i c a n    g r y p h o n

--- D A V I D   K O E H N

My wife pays a park ranger for the extra car And though embarrassed by her broken English, she hounds the ranger for change.

I try my Cantonese on her. “Hoe-how Hoe-hah,” I think I am asking For a Coca-Cola. She smiles. I have asked

For a whore house. She says, she “Never Expected to live like this, after Hong Kong.” She says, “We are living like the homeless.”

I tell her, “Not like the homeless, honey, We’re camping.” My adopted son Erects a pyramid of pine cones,

His rodent smile seethes with pyromania. Thirteen frightens us. Part King Tut, Part Willy Wonka he is jittery

With expectation of marshmallow. A beetle drops from the sky, my wife’s Daughter screams. She’s seen the Science

Channel special on Japanese Hornets And Killer Bees, Locust Swarms And Fire Ants. We are not safe.

The beetle flits from rock to rock Around the fire pit: antennae, Like scepters, perform their ritual

In the plastic, yellow flashlight’s flickering. Translate, transcode, transmit, then send. The constellations listen in,

Rat, dog, monkey, rabbit, tiger. My daughter from a previous Marriage calls us over. Her nose

Twitches, she stares down the beetle And we fall in behind her, shoulder To shoulder, 2 blue eyes, 3 green,

5 brown, 10 hands, 49.5 Fingers, 2 penises, 3 vaginas, 17 mosquito bites, 23

Cavities, a universe of DNA And a flashlight. They are dog, monkey, rabbit, tiger, rat…

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