Robert McLean
An Intoxicated Man Looks at His Girlfriend's Skirt

The oriental filigree
(razor-clawed fire-breathing dragon
stitched in gold thread on green satin)
is neither kitsch nor a cliché:

so tightly stretched across her hips,
the monster, writhing agonised
with every zigzag pace, is seized
by life as distressed fabric slips

up and down alabaster thighs.
A reluctant Orientalist,
her 30-something pins caressed
with textiles woven from the sighs

of countless opium addicts,
gold-prospectors and limping girls,
intoxicates me. Blue smoke curls
from her nostrils. Aphrodisiacs

and fireworks are in her purse
($2. 50 op-shop sheik;
black-tassels on threadbare red silk)
plus $20 – I’ll reimburse

her later. And, being part Chinese,
she’ll understand. A half-eaten bowl
of noodles, our yellow peril,
domino theory and dragon’s tears:

I’m thinking of Edward Said
as I unzip the offending skirt
with trembling hands. That must’ve hurt:
a new tattoo. It’s time for bed.