Photo by Natalie Ng on Unsplash
Matthew James Friday
Packing up our home in Guangzhou:
two local workmen amused
at my surname, a familiar event.
Only this time my name is framed,
painted in Chinese characters
by a local master calligrapher.
My wife watches the workmen
chatter: heads cocked in curiosity,
pointing at the frame, giggles.
My wife tells them it’s my family
name. Why do such a thing?
Friday is just a day of the week.
Shaken heads, more laughter.
They pack up, unwilling to believe
anyone would have that name
and then celebrate it.
Dead Geese Hanging
A public tantrum in a wet market;
this couple is fresh in China.
She insists they search for
something probably British:
tin of baked beans, recognisable
shampoo. Boyfriend is busting
with swell of the heat, fruit
fantastically overpriced, smog
clouded eyes, apartment blocks
a new Babel. He throws arms up,
voices rising, a sub tropical row
ignored by locals, just as invisible.
He orders her to look for herself.
He has had enough. Standing
protest, falls silent. She stomps
off towards the caged chickens,
bubbling tanks of fish rolling
over each other for space.
He sighs, head wilts, slouches.
Behind him dead geese hanging,
three bald yellow heads knowing
what all chicks can’t escape.
Friday Fun Club
His laughter is no surprise. Friday
has always had extra vowels,
a subtextual taste of insecurity.
Paul, our Lebanese chief friend
who keeps us sane in China, in our
so called ‘Xcellent’ Apartment
with deliveries of homemade yogurt,
mint chocolate ice cream that tastes
of clean air, grass in the countryside,
glasses of milk from mother,
running after the sing-song siren
of the ice-cream van.
He asks if I am joking. Friday
is your name? I wearily insist that it is.
He laughs, apologizes. Explains
that in Taiwan a taxi driver
told him and a friend
that the Friday Fun Club
is a famous alternative club.
Do you still want to go?
More laughter from the driver.
Paul and his friend did not go.
My name travels with me everywhere.
Matthew James Friday has had over 60 poems published in many UK and worldwide magazines and journals, including, recently: The Brasilia Review (Brazil), Eastlit (East Asia), New Contrast (South Africa) and Poetry Salzburg (Austria). His website is: http://matthewfriday.weebly.com/