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Wit & Whimsy by
Kirby Wright

Music by Paul A. Toth
Art by Gene Tanta

The Duck Woman of Tai O Village


Art by Gene TantaThe Duck Woman of Tai O Village sits at a picnic table near the beach. She cracks an off-white egg between her fingers, drops the insides into a bucket of water, fishes out the yolk with a ladle.

Her girlfriend sits across from her holding an aluminum shaker.

The Duck Woman is neither happy nor sad. Her black hair shines but her crow’s feet go grandmother deep. She ladles the yolk onto a baking sheet. Her girlfriend salts. The Duck Woman cracks another egg.

The table is covered with baking sheets. I study the dry yolks on a sheet near the table’s edge—they are rows of blood orange moons. Salt grains sparkle.

“Nigo geido chin a?” I ask.

“One dollah one,” the Duck Woman says, without looking up.

I hand her girlfriend a silver Hong Kong dollar, pluck up a moon, slip it in my mouth. It’s as hard as a coin and tastes like salty custard. I want to suck it but end up chewing, like an impatient child. I swallow the greasy pieces.

A fierce quacking comes from the village.

“Duck mother curses me,” I joke.

The Duck Woman frowns. "Yut fun tcheen yut fun foh," she says, dipping
the ladle.

Her girlfriend nods.

nigo geido chin a: how much
yut fun tcheen yut fun foh: you get what you pay for




Well hello, Mary, this is June. It’s been ages since we last talked. Would you like to go to lunch some time next week? Oh. I didn’t know that about Harold. Where is the cancer? Oh, my. My goodness. That darn cancer. Cancer of the liver. There’s really nothing they can do for him? Imagine that, cancer of the liver. I’m so sorry. Now how has Barbara been feeling? Oh? You should send her to Doctor Kane. He does most of the hips and the knees. When I had my hip replaced, I prayed so hard and god really came through for me. Dr. Kane did the operation and what a relief. My hip’s made of that real strong stuff, I think they call it tit, tit-tan. Yes, that’s it. Tit-tanium. Every time he took an X-ray he couldn’t believe it, bone on bone. One bone rubbing against another. I had one of the worst cases and I know it was because of the steroids. Those darn steroids go straight for the cartilage. Do one thing to help something and it destroys something else. Really? Did you take one every day? So the spots are gone? That’s wonderful. Now tell me about your new neighbor’s at Lola’s old house. Really? I don’t even know our next door neighbors. Two doctors, a man and a woman with a little child. They’re Oriental. The whole street’s gone Oriental. See how things change? Are you sure you wouldn’t be able to go to lunch some day? Oh, that’s okay. Well, do give my best to Barbara. Harold will be in my prayers. Yes. Good-bye.



Kirby WrightKirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Browning Society Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first book of poetry, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He joined Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder as Hawaii’s representative at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong.


Gene Tanta, Art DirectorGene Tanta, Art Director. Gene Tanta was born in Timisoara, Romania and lived there until 1984, when his family immigrated to the United States. Since then, he has lived in DeKalb, Iowa City, New York, Oaxaca City, Iasi, Milwaukee, and Chicago. He is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His two poetry books are Unusual Woods and Pastoral Emergency. Tanta earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry and the European avant-garde. His journal publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, and The Laurel Review. Tanta has had two collaborative poems with Reginald Shepherd anthologized in Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Most recently, he has chaired a panel at the 2010 AWP titled, “Immigrant Poetry: Aesthetics of Displacement”. Currently, he is working on two anthologies while teaching post-graduate creative writing online for UC Berkeley Extension.


Paul A. TothPaul A. Toth is the author of three novels, his latest being Finale. His next, Airplane Novel, will be released in July 2011. He also publishes poetry, nonfiction and multimedia pieces. Links to all of his work can be accessed via


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