by Xenia Taiga
The Purple Face Man
The yellow clothed monks droop in the stifling heat
Their papers and incense await your discovery.
The purple face man sits so
Hunched like a monkey, nose puffy and twisted like a purple yam.
His banged up tin cup eager
To eat the coins at your mercy’s disposal.
His clothes black
From constant pavements’ dragging
Dirtied with spit, piss, and leftover debris thrown from your purses.
His face a bright fuchsia
Like a freshly killed dog bled for your pleasure.
To dignify himself, he asks for your change.
I ask for his name
I do not understand
His elongated nose I only stare at.
I sit next to him
We beg together as fortunes are read
They give more money to me than to him.
The police come,
He goes, I do not know where
I’m sure to another good spot
And I to Starbucks.
The Factory Workers
We’re the same age,
But worlds apart.
You work happily Monday to Saturday: from 7 am to 8 pm; one hour lunch break,
I work happily Monday to Friday; taking as many as coffee breaks I can,
For I think life is worth living.
Your face is the same; I never hear any complaints,
And I think it has to do with our childhood:
You went to school Monday to Saturday: 7 am to 8 pm; sometimes 9 pm.
You walked home in the dark guided by white painted trees.
I went to school Monday to Friday: 8 am to 3 pm;
Cutting classes when I could, walking home in the sunshine, chasing butterflies.
You came home to more homework and maybe some farm work.
I came home to a TV that held a boring mishmash of after school specials.
Opened the fridge to find it filled with nothing but left overs.
Disgusted, I shut the door and popped open a soda can.
You had no TV. You had no fridge. You had no soda can.
A whole generation of you content to work in the factories
Day after day/overtime constant/overtime an absolute necessity.
You have TVs now. You have fridges now. You have soda cans but you refuse to drink them.
Your eyes get sore, you can’t feel your fingertips anymore
I take you to buy glasses, tell you which brands are the best; which are fake
I take your hands, apply bandages and send them back
Because oh you make such beautiful things with them
And I don’t want you to stop.
Editor’s Note on The Purple Face Man & The Factory Workers:
The Purple Face Man & The Factory Workers are not Xenia Taiga’s first work to appear in Eastlit. Her previous published pieces are: