the boxer
frank lampard
george best
breakfast in nha trang
cyclo riding in saigon

By Stan Lafleur

Translation Nicholas Grindell

the boxer

glass chin, that’s how they tended to
rate him, the smart alecks at the ringside

but he always did what he could. what he
wanted, besides boxing his way through

was god’s little secret. as a child, he once
revealed on the late show, they had had

to fasten a cutlet round his neck to make
sure that at least the dogs would play

with him. by then of course, his liver-like
gloves had long since been hung

round the neck of a silent admirer


frank lampard

frank lampard, whose father was frank lampard senior
and whose three brothers, one older & two younger
were all of them called frank lampard, this particular
frank lampard was a truly outstanding football player
far better even than his father frank lampard, who also
knew a thing or two about football, just the same as
frank lampard’s three brothers of the same name had
also inherited this top family talent – but none of them
made it as far in football as frank lampard himself. he
compressed the midfield into impenetrable matter & if
necessary, or just for the fun of it, he’d whack the ball
into the net in person, while his father & brothers and a
few others, whose name had also been frank lampard
for generations, followed frank lampard’s performance
down the pub, cheering it and sousing it with thin lager

 

george best

when did it all start going so inhumanly
wrong then, asked the room service guy
at this plushy hotel where he was relaxing

with a few bottles of vintage champagne
twenty grand in cash on the bedspread
& under it the incumbent miss universe

punch-wise, too, he was already pulling
more with the ladies than he packed on the
pitch & he drank, barely over the op, to

the health of his new liver. what do you
mean wrong, nothing went wrong, he
replied, shaking his head at so much false

pity & depending on his intake, his passes
went either into touch or to delighted fellow
inmates on the wings of the prison tea

breakfast in nha trang

a labourer fell from the scaffold. her
eyes burst like hard-boiled eggs on
impact with the street. i was taking
a sip of coffee with my fruit salad
when i saw her falling like an idea
an unimportant headline that falls
through the entire newspaper. the
burst eyeballs revealed her hidden life:
poverty-shuttered hard work, dogged
belief in the hereafter, getting old with
no plan, like a docile, patient little animal
& now, surrounded by cries, passers-by
drizzled with the honey of the morning air
hefted onto a vehicle, bound for midday

 

cyclo riding in saigon

in the cockpit of a cyclo, i had myself
driven round district one, my chauffeur
pedalled like a slave & just could not
believe it, he had gone to great lengths
to get me as his customer too, asked
ten times the price & got double, i said
DRIVE ME TWELVE TIMES ROUND THIS
ROUNDABOUT. in amongst hundreds of
mopeds we crept forward breathing
murky exhaust fumes & sweating like
pigs, people waved to us, whole families
sat astride their motobikes, toothless
old bags at the roadside sold shellfish
& snails cooked over the fire until the
smell of soup mingled with the heat
haze, horn honk answered horn honk &
accompanied the roar of motors as if the
ground was breaking open beneath us
shops peered cautiously at the asphalt
sucked wares into their cavernous dark
merchants leaned against awning poles
to watch our passage. we quickly became
the sensation but after the seventh round
the driver got off his saddle, FUCK YOU! he
said, THANK YOU! came my asiatic answer