So Long, Halong


As we ride out of Cat Ba

through a valley circled

by limestone crags,

a compilation of pop ballads


from the seventies and eighties

oozes from the speakers

and the affable English backpackers

at the back of the bus


groan in faux horror

as Aerosmith follows Bryan Adams

follows George Michaels

follows Michael Jackson


but when the Bee Gees launch

“How Deep Is Your Love”

the backpackers quieten down

and the driver stops honking his horn


at the dogs, children, women

in cone hats and cyclists

with finely balanced cargos

who drift carelessly


in front of the bus

as if it was an invisible

visitor from the future,

and we all strain against


the tug of the song’s chorus

far too cool to sing along

except for one backpacker

let’s call him Nigel


or Christian, or Jason, or Justin

who, in a high piping voice

declares his oneness

with the song’s embattled lovers.


This poem was first published in Oddball Magazine, about 4 months ago.








3 thoughts on “So Long, Halong

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