Plain China

Mr. Rococo in Prague

by Varun Nayar · Grinnell College
Smile, Stephanie Fieseher · American University

Now of course, it is the fractured,
roadside music you remember most.


But there was so much more to that
city than your shitty poetry. You, master
of metaphor, brooding inside tiny piss-
stained bathroom stalls, plucking orchids
with your teeth, smooth talking at the
phantasmagoric girls, the cheap champagne
drinking fantastic girls, sucking the damp,
pulsating yellow from street corners.


You, in your Brownian balter, ablaze
with that gilded mothertongue—
that language rendered ornamental in form,
curling like the baroque sun cathedrals
where you sat burning yourself most days.


It is true the mind remembers only childish things.

About the Author

Varun Nayar · Grinnell College

Born and raised in New Delhi, Varun Nayar studies literature. He has published stories, essays, and poems in The Siren, The Rumpus, Dying Goose, and elsewhere. He is fascinated by the construction and memorialization of identity through language, and is working on an extended bilingual and hybrid poetry project that goes back to his country’s independence and partition. This poem first appeared in The Grinnell Review.

About the Artist

Stephanie Fieseher · American University

Stephanie Fieseher is a graphic design major whose hobbies include writing and photography. Smile was taken at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and first appeared in American University’s AmLit.