Imaginary Mao

i got mao’s text around eight –
i was sitting in some dingy bar
watching boxers spar on the tv
i’ll be late don’t wait for me
so i ordered some more wasabi
peas & massaged my stiff knees
dreamily it’s always like this
i think because mao’s the one who’s
always late (mentioning something
about make-up or a facelift in
a mausoleum somewhere they’re
probably touching him up as we
speak (friday night in beijing
was not quite what i expected
it to be despite what the old
fortune teller told me about
patience being the key to my
future life still i can’t help
wondering what’s keeping him –
maybe the rain, or a lost taxi?
more beer recharge my battery
witnessing scuffles by the door
more & more peasants turned
artists swarm for stools & drink
until finally (finally!) there’s
a buzz by the window & his big
moon face floating past i shout
mao! mate! & his head swivels
& i feel like the devil drinking
faust i make way for the body
of my hero, cold but shining in
the wan electric ceiling light
what would you be drinking then
i say (without waiting for his
reply – it’s always vodka for us
six shots each then a glass of
hot milk still i’m a little bit
annoyed by his drunken silence
after all who’s not stopping him
from texting away on that big tv
phone of his? – a freebie from
some mysterious company seeking
advertising rights over mao or
the madame i ask how she’s going
(no reply (the guy’s manners are
beginning to piss me off not to
mention the barman who thought
of mao as an old friend up until
this point it seems mao’s been
keeping better company something
about drunken lenin & santa claus
mao mimics him going ho chi min
ho ho
this draws a laugh from
one or two desperate pop artists
but i’m mum & so won’t even look
at him now preferring instead to
pretend my beer bottle’s just a
telescope & its contents the sea
abruptly the barman calls last
drinks but mao doesn’t even move
dead drunk i suppose that great
big mug of his looking kind of
fake now in the bright light of
dawn somehow i stumble out into
an alley with no past my arms
around mao’s slippery neck we
do a little dance together as we
try to resurrect the name of the
club we’d planned to visit to no
avail thus i’m left with no choice
but to pile the man into a taxi &
pay off the driver with a wink
& ten yuan see this one gets
home safely would you? thanks
he’s a special mate of mine –
name’s mao imaginary mao
i say bye (no reply

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