Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I miss my children, not as adults,
but how they were as kids when
I had to leave for Paradise.
Money has nothing to do with
Paradise, of course, but it has
everything to do with leaving.
Adults know this, but children
who get tucked in at night never do.
They believe fathers go to Paradise
to be happy without them.

The morning I left, I took them
down one more time to the
south end of the beautiful lake
that had been clear for a week.
A wind-tide of the winter’s
best crushed ice had lapped up a
along the shore.

“Dad, look!” Peter said, “Someone’s
Spilled a Slushie drink everywhere. “

Leanna, still a baby, squatted down
and grabbed up some ice as if it were
riches with both hands.

Andy took a running step and with legs
locked in a skateboard stance slewed
down to the water’s edge. “Look at me!”
he cried, “Look at me!”

That’s how I remember it, the morning
I left for Paradise.

All rights reserved by the author Forrest Greenwood. August 9, 2011.

After being out of work for two years, I was lucky to get an unaccompanied job in Saudi Arabia in 1992. I was lucky because no one was hiring older men. The month I left, the State Newspaper in Columbia, SC was running front page stories about Dead Beat Dads every week.

After fifteen years in Saudi, having supported my kids throughout without seeing them, I wrote a letter to the same newspaper telling them they ought to give equal time to men who give up everything to support their kids. I wasn’t doing it for myself but for society’s blind spot when it comes to men. I had to look at the paper’s front page on-line to get a contact address and there . . . fifteen years later . . . saw another story about a Dead Beat Dad. I lost heart, ached a little more, and never sent the letter. They thought I went to Paradise, too.

As this new recession bites down hard, I hate to think how many other men will be remembering their kids the way I do. I wonder how many will make their own way to Paradise.