I’ve started, with a group of friends, writing a poem a week during these strange Covid-19 days. I’ll share mine here, regardless of quality. This is the fourth.
I’m drinking in Crackertown
because teaching a class of bored, phone-fixated teenagers makes me thirsty
because riding home on my motorbike takes me through Crackertown
because Crackertown is full of cheap bars and cafes and reprobates, lots of reprobates
because of the waft of dope, the construction dust, the security guard who looks like my favourite uncle, the fairy lights around the doors
because the bar staff remember me from when I was here ten days ago and might be the only ones all week to ask “how are you?”
because of the brown-snouted, hairy-backed pig trotting from bar to bar, snuffling nuts dropped on the floor
because of the sense that something outrageous has just happened or is about to happen and I want to be there, to witness
because of the low purr of the fridge full of Saigon Specials and Hudas and the sound of the cash drawer clicking out and in and the shuffling of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dong
because the fellow teacher, who is a dick, walks in and says “Got any spliff man”
because the bar owner went upstairs and got some
because his wife has the shortest shorts I’ve ever seen
because the amateur singers are really, really good
because I can Shazam the music all night
because the two wasted old expats, skinny as rakes, tattooed on every limb, are throwing roundhouse punches in the street but soon will be hugging each other like lovers
because not once in nine months have I ever seen police in the street but rats every night, rats as big as cats, dozens of them, and most weeks motorbike crashes at the crossroads and still no police
because of more old expat guys gazing through an alcohol haze at half-their-age Vietnamese girlfriends
because I meet N and G at Taco Ngon, just a shack by the side of the road, and we choose from the menu of only four types of taco and four types of sauce and beer at $1 a can which we help ourselves to from an ice-filled esky and line up the empties on the low table on the pavement to show how many we’ve drunk
because the waitress counts our empties and paper plates at the end of the night and pencils up a bill for us and on a quiet night the owner invites me to play some incomprehensible board game which I always lose
because everybody in Crackertown is waiting for something, even the pig and the rats and the security guard who looks like my uncle.
“Crackertown” is a name given to the area around the An Thuong streets near where I lived in Danang.
Copyright Mike Hopkins 2020 except photo from here