pho hong phat ; or king pou’s kingdom.

by Noelle Marie Falcis

language rises like steam flying forth from kitchen, the cinnamon spiced vats of bone broth buoyant breezing weaving paths through seating . bodies are overflowing from booth to chair next to window blocking doors . when we approach , the bells chime until the gateways close . king pou looks up his hair slicked back white hair black hair a buttoned top ; top buttons unbuttoned a golden chain a single cross suggests a creed we know he doesn’t follow . the incense burning buddha’s smile golden mango offering reminds us what is front and what is real . when we step forward our hands are clapped our faces bowed . pou’s old face his hand with paper a felt tip point painting native script . his fingers go up we hold our bow . jumreap sooa we call and pause until he smiles . sok sapbaiy he says and then we know come in. tio two has two drinks in hand . cap’e he calls response we take it well . ka musta ka y sok sapbaiy jea he asks he grins . we take the drinks . como estas we say. muy bein . mabuti naman . knyom sok sapbaiy . six hands grasp and six hands shake . king pou comes by puts hand on cheek on forehead on hair . good morning what you want ?

we want we start . no is what he says try again . we pause begin construction scaffolding words on words. kynom jang baan number pram muy pho chin gau hai sliced onions please. ja kwai you want ? he asks . muuuy we say , a drawl , one finger up . dalawa he asks two fingers up then fox’s gap tooth grin . but that grin falls when finger falls when wife , the ming , pops out the kitchen . she is small and tiny her skin so pale long hair silver up in netted bun . she looks at pou distrustful glance and looks at us and we know there is not four or three or two speak for her . our hands clap our faces bow. this one is not so good for us so in faulty tongue : khorb khun na ka we recite waiting for ming’s smile that we know maybe will not come . slew of thai spews forth like reprimand then pou’s thai like apology and when they walk away he looks back “ bye bye enjoy ”. and though he turns back around guiding wife his hand like caress on shoulder we breath and

try :

arkoun cha
miraming salamat po
muchas gracias

& to try once to make less broken to be better next time :

khorb khun mark na ka



About the Author
Noelle Marie Falcis received her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine and her MFA at Antioch University LA. Her fiction explores her heritage and both the deserts and cities in which she grew up. She uses fiction to better understand the diasporic, post-colonized life and how it has affected her as a Filipina American. She teaches English and Dance within Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been published in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Kartika Review, Drunk Monkeys, and Hawaii Pacific Review, amongst others, and is a VONA fellow.