damsels

he remembered how once the
hat was the man standing
in the doorway of his Chinatown hotel watching
the rain like a spectator listening
for the clatter of mahjong tiles from
a city of open windows

down the road was Japantown where
before gravity had bent him in two he
strolled along Powell in a fresh pressed
Woodward’s Suit and burnished Florsheims as
secretly on floors above him chaste
school girls danced in kimonos and

he remembered the machinegun damsels on
Cordova the chain smoking midnight women in
their pure starched white blouses with
switchblades in their handbags the
way they dared a man with their stare the
way like prophets they ruined the
myth of place

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