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Little Thieves


A golden scorpion skewered
like a scrawny prawn—
that's something else I said no

thanks to. In the all-night street
market—the streets still shiny
from the evening rain—a guy

flipped yellow-breasted buntings
on a charcoal grill. "Buttery,"
an Australian told me, taking

two. "Melts in your mouth."
Also snakes skinned and milky
white, fried beetles, a vat of lumpy

horse stew. But I don't remember
sparrows—either on the grill or in
the air. Were they ever reintroduced

there, after Mao accused them
of stealing grain and people
stayed up all night banging pots

and kettles to make them flit from
branch to branch to branch
till every tiny heart gave out?


Matthew Thorburn

This Time Tomorrow
Waywiser Press / Dufour Editions


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