Friday Poem

Against Surrealism

On the road to Luang Prabang an elephant in chains stands on the flat bed of a truck
shifting his weight at every bend over the river and under the trees where fox bats hang
that in the market you can buy skewered on sticks grilled and dipped in a sauce of chilies and
crushed limes next to river monitors living dragons their hind legs sewn together flicking blue
tongues toward a stall stacked with bamboo cages the size of fists each with a swallow inside a
gift for the New Year when you walk to the edge of the Mekong and make a wish opening the
little cage like opening your fist your hand suddenly bursting with song.

by Joseph Stroud
 Of This World: New & Selected Poems, 1966–2006