In a Chop-Suey Joint

Climb up a flight of darkly-winding stair,
Push through a swinging door, and you are there.
The ceiling lowers low with strange design
Where fire-mouthed dragons coil and intertwine.
The joss-sticks' thin blue vapor creeps about
Like prisoned spirit seeking some way out,
And slipshod waiters shuffle silent by
With rustling garments and quaint-slanted eye.
If you but fold your sight you are away
In some quaint yellow corner of Cathay,
Lost in a garden of hand-monstered trees
And exquisite uncouth barbarities
Where threats a eunuch one-eyed like a star
Towering malignant with a scimitar.

Now the sun-smitten highway, where there plies
His trade the beggar with self-blinded eyes.
Now, drowning pastoral matin, woodland song,
From a great temple booms a brazen gong. …

The streets with chattering hordes are oversped
Like swarming vermin in a beggar's head;
And, here and there, amongst the long-cued horde,
A coolie-borne palanquin speaks a Lord …
The spell is broken … Here's some tea to quaff …
Hark! from behind yon flower-damasked screen
There breaks a coarse, loud-mouthed, salacious laugh
Pregnant with goatish lusts and deeds obscene …
It is some tawdry prostitute, I guess,
Whose voice betrays her painted wantonness.
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