portion of the artwork for Marc Vincenz's stories

Mister Wang Baits Matter
Marc Vincenz

He was razor-billed, hook-beaked, eagle-eyed;
not even Einstein could have come within a follicle.
He was an Absolute.
                                       But it was in the Biz
where he captured his own cream-pie Mona Lisa
while gently plucking a fine line baited on the swell
                                                  with pure energy
                                                               to catch matter.
It was a child’s do-si-dos
                                       square plugging square
building Lego towers but knowing where
each brick would snap-fit long before lifting a mitt.
Cause and effect were tightly coiled yin and its polarized yang.
Basic accounting too, like electricity,
                                                               was ACs and DCs
and had to integer
             just a hop-skip hopscotch
                          between two simple parallelograms.
He took every damn thing in a fly-snatch backhand,
the other clapping Zen, single-handedly;
this, if it wasn’t busy behind
                                       patting his back
                                                   or beating his hairless chest.
And Having It was a slow leisure
                                       in between cigarettes
and long drawn-out slurps of piping hot Longjin tea:
a coalescence of all things leading
                                                   to this very defining moment.
His flourish was way beyond the nimble spin
of any veteran I Ching coin-tosser in any temple
in any foolhardy city, even here in ancient Beijing
among the whir and click of millions of bicycle wheels
                          soft soles soft pedalling;
                                                   and the hack-sputter
of diesel engines when the Bell Tower tolled;
it didn’t clang for time, but for Feng Shui fanatics
dreaming of crisp duck skin and pancakes
in plum sauce served up by the Emperor’s own karaoke girls
and transcendental coffee
                                       off the cuff
                                                   in twin-ply paper cups
                                                                             like time.
And when things smelled a mite fishy, which inevitably
             sometimes they did,
because most things come from the sea
the thing to do was to quantify historical trends
             and find their mean,
                          fertility rates
                                       and population density;
but then, of course, one of the signs of keen wit is sensing
when to buy rock bottom and
                          when to sell inconceivably high for the hit.
He hired clever young men still peeling
and with hair that would never stay still,
                                       straight out of Masters.
They would learn the bounce and clink and crinkle
of things; and then, finally,
                                       he could iron them all out.
Teddy Liu came with all the certs and five gold buttons.
In the first week the lad sold two thousand tons
to a little old man from Wuhan who nibbled
             pumpkin seeds on the go.
Wang gave Teddy five cartons of Lucky Strikes
                                       and a sweet cappuccino
                                                                frothing Starbucks.
And the boy puffed them all
inhaling smoke and frost and dust rolling off the Gobi
right across the rooftops of the Forbidden City
watching the sway of a crooked pagoda
                                       in the Summer Palace gardens.
But the poker-playing exiles sitting at table number 3
in the Sichuan Lotus Garden who slurped three bowls of noodles
in hot sauce, sprinkled with spring warned Wang. They said:
                          “Young Teddy Liu is in the Falun Gong.
                          We’ve seen him swinging swords in the park
                          lashing at authority in the air, can you believe?
                          They teach truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.”
And Wang abhorred non-profit institutions, particularly those with bald,
lopsided or bearded men steering; and so he made the call.
And three members of the Party in black suits took the boy away
to the furthest corner of the nation
where elephants still roam the cloud forest
                                                    and monkeys gobble fruit from trees.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 28 | Spring 2010