d a v i d    h a r r i s o n    h o r t o n


four poems from Laowai




from Laowai


神头鬼面. Masks for the gods, makeup for ghosts. Humans to wear their own, less significant skin. A shore eroding to the sea. Potential city. To build or scatter. Babylonian appeal. To build at all. Hercules of Rhodes; Ming palace. Everything suffers the same effacement. Who reads Milton? It's not where have all the women gone, but rather where is one to go? Face open, sails full to the end of the ocean.

Angoulême in its age. The way the old tell time. Cement weathered, brownish. How the fields get plowed regardless.

How Margot came in visions. How one day this will all be done. Copper nailed to the cedar tree. To have done with it. A grassless hill, but not desolate.




Mr. Horton

How we thought we held her. A single leaf in a forest of thicket. How something so simple as our own arrogance betrayed us, never having learned the lesson of Our Ladyís Tumbler.

A pheasant nide. The Niobe stone. The accoutrements of gout and cancer. The too many meanings of X.

Mr. Lusk:

Pen the letter and turn in your union card. Itíd save us all some legal fees. As for Mr. Shoes, who didnít see that coming? It was all in the guyís fishy handshake.

I donít like the design of the new plane for Mozambique. It had propellers.

Mr. Waistcoat




When words were sounds, I tended to listen.

Daughter of the American Revolution. The family had orchards with which to make scrapple. They call it calvados in better kitchens.

And Henry drank himself stupid over the loss. And life is loss. A redundant stupidity. A thing to atune to.

Family plot.

When the best of your wages is memory, itís time to reconsider. Rotate the crop, queen and bishop. Reëdit that letter to the Editor.

Ms. Mills:

I am drowning in it in too comfortable a fashion. The creek seems to like the river and the river the sea and the sea the ocean. This is how the small give up.

Mr. David Harrison Horton




Edo. Where it all began. Or perhaps a different dock. One doesnít usually record such things. To eye oneís shawl. To eye openly. To create a time, neglecting space. To consider furniture. A bed with clean sheets, no nightstand beside.

A sound from the other room. A change in conversation.

To wear a different look upon oneís face.

To look like a painting.



DAVID HARRISON HORTON is author of Pete Hoffman Days (Pinball 2003). His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Backwards City Review, Traverse, Five Fingers Review, Denver Quarterly and Tinfish among others. He currently lives and writes in Oakland, California.