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Words Without Borders is an inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winner!
from the March 2016 issue

The Red Triangle Café

How I adore
the café  door
            there’s a newspaper
            and a seat
and, you know,
I mean, that means I know
            all the latest news.

In and out
flapping about
            Waiter!
one Lipton tea
and my number . . . I dialed it on my phone
ring ring . . . ring ring
                        I . . . am not there.

At the café door
a man stands . . . baking in the sun
            clearly, he’s waiting for someone
            the poor guy is annoyed
            but I know he’s married
            and boy, would I like to see the lout
            if his wife
                        ever found him out.

Perhaps
in a skirt . . . she would look better
that one that just passed by
wearing a djellaba.

Maybe
he was trying to look like a man or something
ordered some water and a coffee, black
pulled a cigarette from a pack
she, ordered a café au lait
but
            when the secret of her chest began to effuse 
            he ordered an apple juice
she ordered a banana juice
because the water
—and there was water—
            below him . . . was profuse.

I, however, am fully uninterested
an exception, perhaps, to things prohibited
to what
is written on the sign,
a sign
that my cigarettes decline,
it reads: smoking strictly prohibited
yellow tobacco . . . black tobacco . . . in-between tobacco
no one gives a shit
as for me, give me a hit
words between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

That first guy
if his poems were ever reviewed
if his photo appeared in the news
you’d see him float through the door
a bride whirling on a tayfour
            so ecstatic
you’d think he wrote the Qur’an . . .

That second one, with that hairdo of his
every two minutes . . . and he flips,
on the stage
he appears to be sage
            and he does have . . . something to say
in the theater of the absurd
and the proof
a meeting of the two transpired
against a teapot . . . together they conspired
            collusion between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

One folded like a switchblade, one open like a book,
the snob, the guy lost in his disguise, the other spitting on his own thighs,
the mustache, the neurotic, the human despite, the zinc, the head like a
tank,
one entering with a thrust
one sitting out like an egg
and me
all just clients . . . at the Triangle Rouge.

Read more from the March 2016 issue
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