Black Market Alley, Naha

I am built from many places:
yellowed, cracked, I’m covered up
in signs and bright lit packaging.
At night, I shine gaudy like a parrotfish.
I was once uncovered—
my original street signs hang
from anonymous windows,
brief Ryukyu memory.
I love and hate my storefronts.
Like foreigners, they bring money
but leave a gap in my language.
I become what I sell: the skinned
pig-face, the fermented snakes
suspended in honey-wine,
the shisa lion t-shirts—
I am at the intersection
of Miracle Street and Peace Road.
I’m no pushover—I survive.  
The haisai in my mouth burns
bitter like goya, reprinted
on gift bags and tourist stops.

Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, RHINO and Gargoyle. She teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland. She has five poetry chapbooks, and her novel Post-High School Reality Quest is published with California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. Find her online at or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal.