Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Norm Piper (The Goffstown News)

He showed up at all sorts of
gatherings usually wearing a
trench coat and fedora hat.
I remember that he always
seemed friendless, sitting by
himself at the end of a row
of metal folding chairs or on
the empty, away-side bleachers –
and he always had his Polaroid
with him.

Instant Photography then was far
from being instantaneous. After
snapping the picture, you pulled
the paper envelop through tight
rollers in the camera body that
spread the goop held in a pad,
hoping not to tear it or get it jammed.
You then waited for several seconds –
some Polaroids had little timers on
the back of the camera.  Timing was
a crucial step as it determined brightness
and contrast of the photo. Then,
with your fingernail, you separated
the photo from its throw away, negative
backing.  Still not done, the last step
was to spread fixer on the photo with
a nifty little squeegee. 

I remember seeing him holding
the envelop and gently waving it
as if waiting for it to dry.  In these
thirty seconds or so he seemed
to be paying attention to the speaker,
but as soon as he separated the positive
from the negative and knew he had
something he could use for The News,
he’d pick up his coat and hat and
anonymously slip away.

I hope he had friends.

FG  1/11/2015

Almost always there, but never quite belonging, Mr. Piper here is the way I feel about Goffstown when I remember it now.  I’ve heard he was something of a tippler, which may have prompted his early exits, dunno.  

For years I’ve been taking short Flip videos and the picking the best still – something smart phones automatically do now.  It’s odd, too that the Charge Couple Device that makes digital photography work was really a flaw in early computer chips.  Someone noticed that when the chip was hit by light, pixels were lost.

Polaroid is all but gone now.  So is Kodak and Fuji for that matter.


Anonymous Joan Konieczny said...

Interest Forrest, as I workded at the Goffstown News for several years. Many of those years Norm Piper was my boss. I am trying to see how you connect what I presumed to be his loneliness, with how you feel about Goffstown. What ARE your feelings regarding your youthful days spent here if I may ask? Mr. Piper did indeed give that appearance, and yes, he was a bit of a "tippler" too, but he was very kind and very interested in people. Perhaps he appeared to be uninterested sitting in that end seat waiting for his Polaroid, but in actuality, I think he just may have thought how boring some of these meetings were and he had to sit through many of them. Yes, I took his place and he sent me to a seminar on photography for three days so I wouldn't be photographing people with plants sticking out of the back of their heads for the newspaper! It was brief, but got $1/photo it helped with the bills "back then" and was added to my whopping salary of $15/week to proof and edit material for the weekly paper. You are right in that he "didn't belong there," and in actuality he didn't! He as there strictly as part of his job. Interesting take......any further input on this?

January 11, 2015 at 1:10 PM  

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