Poseur By Bunkong Tuon


For Sophetra

I had always wanted the bike
the neighbor kid had:
a silver Californian Mongoose,
the one Cru Jones backflips
on in the movie “Rad.”
After the divorce his mother
gave that neighbor kid everything:
a Mongoose, then a GT,
after the goose was stolen
by one of my friends.
He also had a Tony Hawk
skateboard, but he couldn’t do shit
on that board or on the bike.
He pranced around
with his brand new GT,
and we wanted to punch in his face.
I begged and begged
Grandma for a new bike.
“It’s my birthday,” I told her,
“The birthday kid gets presents
in America!”
She sat quietly on the floor
chopping pork on the cutting board.

But one day, Grandma took me
to the Northgate Shopping Center.
We walked along the road
that led to Route One.
Cars flew past,
some honked,
eyes staring
at an Asian grandmother
in pale blown sarong
and her grandchild
in skinny blue jeans.
At Central Cycles
they lined those bikes
on rack upon rack,
where those geese hung
upside down over our heads,
as if they were in mid-flight.
She asked for the price,
and when I told her, she said
we couldn’t afford them,
not with her government money.
So we walked over to Kmart,
went through the Girls’, the Boys’,
the Women’s, the Men’s,
took a left at Electronics,
‘til we reached Toys, where the bikes
sat heavy, solid, like ten-ton trucks:
Huffy’s, Murray’s, and Ken’s.
They didn’t need to be chained down.
They looked lazy, complacent, domesticated.

That afternoon, I rode my new Huffy
around the neighborhood, jumped off a curb,
popped a wheelie, bunny-hopped
onto the same curb when the back wheel
wouldn’t lift and I slammed.
The neighbor kid saw what happened,
rode over and smirked, “Nice bike.”
I got up, yelled as he rode away,
“At least, I have the balls
to do stuff. Friggin’ Poseur!”
I walked my bike home, head down,
hands scraped, shin torn.

By Bunkong Tuon


Bunkong Tuon is a writer and critic working at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. His poetry has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize, and has appeared in Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review, Consequence, Poetry Quarterly, The Mekong Review, Numéro Cinq, Nerve Cowboy, and others. Gruel, his full-length poetry collection, was published in 2015 (NYQ Books). And So I Was Blessed, his second collection, is forthcoming.

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