R&R

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  • Frantic laughter drowns out fire fights
  • last week next week an hour away by PanAm.
  • Tinny band nasal Suzie Wong attempting
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash. Failing.
  • Hands slide into side slits in red cheong sams
  • knock back mai tais and straight shots
  • pound tables to give the band the beat.
  • It's a gas gas gas. Don't you get it?
  • It's a gas gas gas.
  • "The Incredible Orsinis" take the floor
  • tall graying man in a satin shirt
  • arms raised to bring on with a flourish
  • "Madame Orsini," a wren of a woman
  • walking uncertainly on a medicine ball,
  • eyebrows arches of apprehension
  • smile an entreaty that goes unseen
  • as the off-duty combatants turn to
  • the Suzies and the drinks – bored.
  • Monsieur Orsini juggles three pins
  • drops two. This is just a drag drag drag.
  • Madame Orsini may cry at any moment
  • but toddles on, mate pointing out
  • her wobbly progress as though she were Pavlova,
  • retrieving the juggling pins each time
  • they escape from his incompetent hands.
  • There has to be a story.
  • Refuseniks, that's it, they have walked to Vladivostok,
  • stowed away, gotten only this close, so far, to Israel,
  • where they will once again be – epidemiologists.
  • No papers, no money, no local credentials,
  • they humiliate themselves for their supper in a
  • Hong Kong dive full of stoned Americans
  • trying to forget that Charlie is waiting,
  • silent, deadly, patient, never breaking
  • for Rest and Recreation.
  • "The Pitiful Orsinis" at last are taking their bows.
  • I stand and applaud, the sound of one fool clapping.
  • My tablemates shrug, grin, stand, clap, cheer.
  • It's a good game. I throw wadded American dollars at
  • "the Puzzled Orsinis." Bills fly from clumsy hands
  • all around the floor. Young voices yell
  • You're a gas gas gas!
  • "The Incredulous Orsinis" – whoever they may be –
  • embrace, weeping, and exit left,
  • with air fare to Tel Aviv.
  • (On one page.)