in kathmandu
—a poem by Justin Hyde

if your skin is white
hordes of brown children
swarm around you
hawking trinkets

'no hablo ingles'
i learned to say
pretty quickly
moving them
to the next white skin

but an older boy
selling silk scarves
for two hundred rupees
didn't miss a beat

in fluent spanish

i waved him off
getting up into a rickshaw

he stood there
in my periphery
speaking beautiful spanish
fluttering a scarf
against the tip of my nose

he'd called my bluff
i should have bought the damn thing
on principal

but i'm a hyde man
by way of missouri

when we turn our hearts off
we can stonewall the nails
off our own toes

the rickshaw driver
swatted him away

hopped up on his bicycle seat

and pedaled us off
on the tiniest

Justin Hyde is a poet and Literary Editor for The Commonline Journal. He is the former Poetry Editor of Thieves Jargon and the author of the chapbooks Down Where the Hummingbird Goes to Die (2008) and Another Casualty at the 34th St. Bus Stop (2009). His last collection of poems is An Elephant Hole (2014, Interior Noise Press). He lives in Iowa and works with criminals.