KUEI-TS'AI


pronounced kway-thai, a Chinese word 
meaning demon-talented or ghost-inspired 

I. Christmas Eve 

Steam against witch-tit cold, my bastardized name 
Puts on airs, enticing a curious-dimpled St. Nick 
with opaque red cheeks like swirls of marbled ice cream. 
First he ventures, Are you from England? I don't respond. 
No? Perhaps a Caribbean Isle? Blank silence 
Circles and flits about my face before crash-landing 
In my mind. Somewhere there must be a handbook 
That bans flirting when a fool is decked 
Aft and fore, suited in ash and round cuffs of matted fur. 

II. Christmas Day 

Tis the season and I wish I was in Spain, 
Tossing breadcrumbs for those who have 
Gone before-a real tradition of substance. Gone 
Like winged memories over a limestone fountain 
Tinseled with calcite. Boughs of red and gold 
Spiral me down-a cockatrice, eyes closed, counting 
Sibilant syllables amid reveries. Awkward as a child 
Learning to count stress, embarrassed as the words arc 
Streaming between annealed fangs, I shed morbid thoughts. 

III. New Year's Eve 

Romantic. Once I dreamed of dying. I should have 
Used pencil, so I could erase this leathery pest. 
It scampers on brusque legs, taking buccal rest 
Upon my bed. The hour is late, sleep awaits. 
I'm too tired to argue with this intrusive guest. Death, 
A patient friend. I refuse to return its holiday calls. 
Hungry for life and new meanings, I eat chitterlings, 
Hog jowls and black-eyed peas, hang sepia prints of dragons, 
Construct paper cranes and resolutions of apostasy. 

IV. New Year's Day 

Long dead ancestors have infused this quickening: 
Once, I sought refuge among reality. Thinking 
If I could just hold on all would be okay, but I came to find 
I'm not much at holding on, nor is it an easy feat 
With an anadem of hands weighing against my mind. 
I realized I wasn't aware of the ghosts about me. 
Somebody should have forewarned; intuitive people 
Make too many inferences and, as result, have difficulty living 
In a world where even demons have griots they can't elude