He finds on cheap match covers.
PLEASE MAKE ME
TASTE LIKE A MAN
is the first one he reads after lighting up
an American Spirit cigarette on the corner
of Broadway and Houston. The painted Statue
of Liberty on the giant DKNY ad on the side
of the building winks her big blue eye
as if she understands what those words mean,
as if she could make him taste like a man.
The street sign changes to WALK
and the natural smoke of the natural cigarette
feels good in his lungs. He thinks
of the taste of fried garlic, of anise seeds,
of rambutan fruit, of broiled tuna–
none comes close to what a man
would taste like in his mind. He reaches
underneath his shirt and sweater to scratch
his left arm-pit. He smells his fingers
and thinks: this is what a Filipino man
must taste like to American women.
To test his hypothesis, he sticks
his index finger in his mouth, pulls
it out with a slurpy sound and points upwards
as if he were testing the wind,
as if he were carrying a flaming torch.