– Vanni Taing –

Happy birthday! Happy birthday!
He was tired of all the happy birthdays.
Someone turned 21 every day here, 
and he was 70, and goddamned tired of it. 
Tired of how the college was pregnant 
with youth and how it drunkenly rushed 
into the streets. Why don’t you stop snarling 
and get your ass away from that window, 
his wife yelled. He liked to peer out there at night, 
only God knows why because he came back inside 
all riled up again. Do us both a favor, for God’s sake, 
she said, and come here, now! Take the keys. 
Give yourself some lessons and just leave.


He’d been gone 3 hours. She told him to take off 
so he took someone out. You hear me? 
he roared, as he left the Geo clanging 
and coughing up parts under the streetlamp. 
Was this what you wanted? he yelled out 
as he climbed the stairs, dragged her 
outside in house slippers, his clothes sagging 
with mud. He waved his hands at her, 
waved them all about so that she was certain 
she saw what she saw. Hand to mouth—
What is that? What kind of trouble 
have you gotten into now? It’s the staining kind, 
he said, the kind that drives.