Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Myth In The Land Of Smiles

Small heaps meander like run-on sentences
under the high coconut and shameful banana
trees until they slide into to my neighbor’s
tin roofed car port, spilling the plastic, glass
and assorted junk onto the cement floor
in front of the door to his house that looks
like a dark altar above all the jumbled mess.
He collects and trucks all this junk in daily.
But after the day’s sorting is done,
he beaks up the bigger pieces.  His wife
Joy holds an iron bar while he, Mi, John Henry-
like in this rice-field land, wields a twelve-
pound maul to break up refrigerators, washing
machines, ovens and A/Cs.  He’s not fighting
the mythical machine directly, but seems to be
killing off the machine’s offspring, one by one. 

The insulating foam he later burns while
His two small dogs keep a low profile and
his Cheshire cat watches from the glass-less
window of  his inside shower room.

The black acrid smoke looks as if it is from
a plane crash where there were no survivors.

Still, there are days when Mi and Joy leave this
world without their clocked-faced weight scale.
On these days, Joy, thirtyish and paunchy rides
side-saddle in back on their motor scooter, and
waves good-bye to me with a warm Thai smile.

FG 25 August 2013

Mi [pronounced “my”] is a cousin of my wife.  He lives in an aunt’s house next door (she’s sick and lives out on the “farm” in Takhli). Joy, his wife, works side by side with him, collecting junk in his second hand pickup.  They pay for the junk (based on its weight) and then sell it on to larger recycler.

It’s hard for me to describe banana trees as trees - they’re such a falling down, lewd mess.

John Henry, the steel driving man, raced the steam engine in legend.  He won but later died.  The same battle against encroaching modernity seems to be going on in the rural Thai village where I live.  I hope in ten-year’s time Thailand is still known as the land of smiles.


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