Happiness Happens In Moments

it tastes like nighttime, like a cocktail whose dark wetness clarifies what you utter to whomever is listening. like the wind or a lover whose whisper washes away all you have fought for to get to this place. it is the sunrise over buildings and the easy morning cigarette, the road trip to strange towns and an ice cream cone on a park bench. these pieces of pleasure compose my universe and as long as there are fields to run in, rooms to kiss in, and streets to rage in, these vices will always be the fuel for fun. whether a warm tea between palms or a bottle dressed with a flaming rag, we all share an explosive connection to everything we desire.

Still No Ring

Maquiladoras, malevolent monstrosities of miserable moneymaking

Invites insanity and incumbent inequities involving

Stoical societies succumbing to sadistic symmetry.

Corporate cohorts connive and construct conglomerates

Operating ostensibly, overseers of the oppressed,

Nimbly navigating numbers of new natives,

Churning Chihuahua’s children into cheap chattel.

Enterprising, exploiting, enveloping environments en masse,

Privatizing, procuring, parceling people for production,

This thievery from threadbare third-world throngs

Is insidious, implementing irreverence with investment

Of our country’s ornate opulence, overbearing

Neighbors with NAFTA’s nightmare, todavia no anular.

OK Corral 2009

I used to have a beautiful Remington 12 gauge pump and though I (regretfully) got rid of it, I’m beginning to think that maybe some types of firearms in the hands of Americans might not be the most capital of ideas.

There are far too many people shooting each other in the streets, at the office, schoolrooms and playgrounds. Murder after murder, crazy people, sane people, angry, sad, money, no money, if you’re American, have two fingers and a beef, you too can go on a random killing spree because you’re mopey for your girlfriend. Or maybe there’s bullies during recess or you’re upset at your job or how your stocks just plummeted, or maybe you don’t even need a reason and the world just owes you.

Canada has more public firearms per capita than the US but a fraction of the annual killings. What am I missing? What are we as a nation not understanding? Besides fending off bears and wolves, I just don’t get it.

If Japan had the same population as the US they would record about 80 gun murders a year compared to 11,000 in America. In the richest land of liberty, freedom, democracy and golden opportunities on earth, we’re shooting each other just because. Eleven thousand different times a year.

Presently I’m staying in a land of strict gun control and for the first time in my life I’m considering its benefits.

Since I don’t belong to a junta or a paramilitary organization back home, I’m not sure if I need an AR-15 or an 18 round SIG Sauer laying around the house. I can understand using guns when living in a country where revolutions are a way of life or if rampant poverty means having a pistol means you eat, but people who live in America don’t need guns, they just happen to want them. Poverty is a large part of why violent crime is prevalent in America but I’m really starting to believe that we don’t need thousands of guns to prove that we’re not a dictatorship.

While certain class structures dictate lives where firearms are as common as keychains, Americans have no business owning handguns. They don’t know how to handle the responsibility which means the toys should be taken away from the children. If they can’t get along with them, we’ll just put them away until they learn how to behave with one another.

It’s one thing to hunt animals but far too many murders are facilitated by weapons that hunt people.

So if I’m attacked by ducks or pheasants, better believe I’ll rue ever parting with my shotgun.

To Be Patriot or Expatriate?

40 days and 40 nights. I have 40 more Vietnamese days to walk languid, drink hearty, sit in the shade, and maybe take a snapshot.

Acclimating to the streets of the United States will be sadly, quick and easy.

No more fresh fruit shakes for under a dollar.

No more 35 cent beer or great streetside coffee, no more bowls of noodles or rice and chicken, fish and seafood, heaps of veggies and some of the most exotic and delicious desserts I’ve ever tasted.

Got a month left and I already miss Vietnam. Woe is Reid.

That’s ok, I’ll have great music and movies, 24-hour whatever I want, good, decent, better customer service, crosswalks, nice clean air, apple fritters, a microbrew and rare bourbon, and most of all, I’ll have the memories and experience….oh who am I fooling….I’m screwed!

I’m going to need to find a job in a crappy economy and everything will be enormously more expensive! My resume will have a blank year that reads, “Went to Vietnam to teach for a few months but screwed around the other nine,” I don’t want to go home! I’ll be an expat instead! A grizzly faced, leather skinned beer drinker that hangs out in the backpacker area, without shoes, in a tank top and headband.

Hanging On The Rails

I watch the moon in the lake as it follows the train I’m on.

The big window slides open without a screen so I can stick my head out of it if I want. It’s by no means a bullet train, just a steely diesel beast, and there’s something about putting my face out alongside it that scares me to death. Amtrak would never let me do that back home so I take advantage of the lawlessness and let the wind belt me as if I were a Labrador riding out the window on an American highway.

Every curve lets me see the entire train snake along the rails

It’s noisy and old, a dull green with six cars book ended by monstrous engines that sound like the ocean if the waves were breaking right on your face while someone bangs a hammer onto sheet metal. It’s a constant roar of machinery, hissing, pistons, wheels shaking and clanking, metal against metal. Loudest thing I’ve ever been on.

The older gentlemen who are staffed on the train all come around one by one and want to talk to me and find out who I am. I look like a Westerner but my language pronunciation sounds native so they’re all fascinated. It’s fun. They all have on nice blue shirts and policemen hats, smoking cigarettes and drinking black iced coffee in little plastic cups.

The smoking section is a tiny, shoulder-width compartment between the cars where one small ashtray sits on the wall. It’s adjacent to the exit door that has a drop hatch for the stairs when disembarking, but the hatch apparently stays open during the trip. It’s easily big enough to drop a body through and I watch the ties and gravel zoom by in the open darkness just a few steps away. There is a small handle near the ashtray that’s polished clean from where smokers have stood and puffed while watching that hole for dear life.

The cabin lights are off so looking out is clear, where silhouettes of mountains reflect on the numerous lakes and thinly lit highways with palm trees carved from the sky in front of a brimming round moon somehow makes me homesick.

Houses not 10 feet from the tracks have patios and stoops behind shabby fences where people are sitting, I can look right into their homes and they can see my face and big eyes peeping from the train. A little boy shoots a toy gun as we rumble by.

8 hours of a dark train ride beats 4 hours on a bus any day.

Da Nang or bust. Should get there by 3 in the morn.