Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Art of Begging (c. 1854)

Reprinted here for the newly unemployed

1. Perfect your wretchedness.
A missing limb or two or a pathetic
Infant dosed with laudanum
To appear dazed & stupid
Can certainly improve your
Prospects if God has so blest you.

2 Make no eye contact & stay low.
Your patron should nearly trod on
You & behold thou at the last possible
Moment like a new magic lantern slide
Whose impact is not beauty but shock.
Disgust is the essence of our art itself.

3 Never play an instrument & never thank.
Music & common courtesy are above our
Estate & might give affront or even displease.
Our Patron gives, not out of appreciation.
Or sympathy, but like a monkey he’s trained
To drop a coin in a cup and walk on.

4 What you do is an honest day’s work.
Bribe whom you must & suffer the rest.
Never drop your wretchedness until
You’re in the pub among your wenches.
Then you may be as gracious to complete
Strangers as the benighted swells were to you.
Forrest Greenwood 2/24/10



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