Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hitchhiking from Durham – November 1963





The clouds in the square are low, dark
and unremitting, but the fall rain is light
and you feel in your bones this dreariness
will stay on for days.  Lights in sidewalk shop
windows are on but it’s impossible to tell
what time it is: early afternoon, late afternoon . . .
Look in any direction and the ancient mill-brick
walls of Manchester are like unwashed blackboards.
The only hope of change for us now is snow,
but there’s no hope of that, none at all.

I’m soaked and smoking a Pall Mall straight. 
I’ve been hitchhiking from Durham the whole day,
but I’ll never catch a ride in this sorry square. 
The coming night and cold are making me
impatient.  I keep looking over my shoulder
like a man who thinks someone is following him,
but I’m really looking for a slowing car, for a
slowing anything, that might stop and carry me
closer to home.

FG  6/20/2014

JFK’s assassination fell into my life at a critical time.  I wasn’t overwhelmed with grief, but I was unhappy with being at UNH - or rather I wanted to do this thing and not do that thing, but the school wanted me to do many things I had no interest in.  For a writer of fiction, facts are like fireballs that streak across the sky and then out of your life. Was that real?  Was that important?   JFK’s assassination was like that: It belonged, it didn’t belong . . . and now it’s in a poem.  Sigh.

I’m not sure what square I’ve been thinking of, nor do I think it is important, but I think it was near The Red Arrow and close to Elm Street.  Deleted lines may give a clue - or not.

It’s called a square, but it is not a square at all
but a haphazard junction of paths now paved that
were once used by folk in the course of their
weekly, monthly, or even seasonal trips 
to town to trade something they had for
something they needed.  Those ancient traders
have long since died off and the shoppers, who
came later never really had anything to trade
have gone,  too; gone to the new malls
on South Willow where, no matter what
time of day,  it is always a clear, bright afternoon
in the month of transaction.

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