The Asian man who walks past the balcony

by Daniel J. Flore III
Babilu
Second Place, May 2020
Judged by Terese Coe


I always feel more at peace when the Asian man walks past the balcony
he just walks in circles
and is ok with the fact that he’s not going anywhere
his face is like a scarecrow in the wind
and his hands droop on their sides
his feet keep puttering along, battling the parking lot as if it were some great mountain
I would like to smoke and talk to him
but I don’t know what I’d say
maybe -“How’s the walk today?”
“Good, good.” I can picture him saying back
meaning it more than I can imagine


The diction is colloquial, the tone both amiable and ironic. The speaker’s deadpan and absurdist imagination (as in battling the parking lot as if it were some great mountain) manages to stand apart from its classic Zen Buddhist precursors. If the speaker is seeking identity in another culture or religion, they may be equivocating and not essentially mired in their own history. The speaker grasps and is ok with the fact that he’s not going anywhere: that line recalls the elementary Buddhist lesson of Emptiness. There is plenty of emptiness and wit in this germinal self-portrait, and the final line may or may not be credible. --Terese Coe

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