Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


No, not the guy on the Courvoisier
bottle, but the barrel-chested man
who padded around upstairs in our house
in slippers, white shirts and suspenders
and lived with my Nana for a couple of
years before dying of the shaking disease.

A big man he feared lady bugs, smoked
Old Gold and called out “bright eyes
cut-cut,” whenever he saw my sister or me.
His English was spotty, so I’m not sure
what he meant by cut-cut.  He was always
in holiday pictures but off to the side, sort
of there but not quite there which is how
my Thai family will probably remember me.

Almost at the end, I burst into Nana’s
kitchen and saw him sitting buck naked
in a cheap dining chair while she gave
him a sponge bath.  His head turned slowly
towards me, but his mortification must have
been profound.

A painter can make history rear up in a moment
of glory and exultation but for most of us history
is the gaze of a helpless old man whose eyes turn
slowly toward us – while begging our forgiveness.

FG  May 15, 2011

All rights reserved by the author Forrest Greenwood.

I believe my grandfather “Poli” died of Parkinson’s disease.
My biological grandfather Arthur died young a decade or
so before I was born.  Like shards of a broken mirror,
all I remember of Poli are here in this poem.  I think
“bright eyes cut-cut” was a reference to chicks.  For
the record his name was Napoleon Guimond.