Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Poems find you, but not in the way you expect.

I’m not a fan of the Where’s Waldo school
of how to write poetry, where you look really
hard to a find a poem and when you do
you feel wonderful, but all you’ve done is
found this goofy looking guy standing next
to a “Follies-Bergere” sign.

Poems find you, but not in the way you expect.

I’m walking down Elm Street in Manchester,
New Hampshire on Christmas Eve. 
It’s snowing and the world looks like a scene
right out of It’s A wonderful Life.  I turn a corner
and a little old man wearing a fedora hat opens
his overcoat as if he’s selling something. 
I’m halfway by him when I realize I know
the things pinned to his coat: some baseball cards,
10 or so miniature metal license plates out of
a Wheaties box, a shiny hand warmer and a neat
pipe lighter.  It’s all my stuff that I lost years ago.
Before I can get back to him, before I can even
formulate a question, he closes his overcoat  and
edges in the slush between  two parked cars and
crosses dangerously against the traffic.

I watch him disappear and . . . a perfect snow
flake lands on my nose.  I look at it cross-eyed
and blow it off.  This is how poems find
you, I think?  Be real.

I would have offered you something, I think,
but I’m the only person who would ever buy that
stuff.  Good luck to you, old man.

I walk down to Elm and Bridge and wait for
the light to change.  At the moment that little
white stick figure tells you it’s OK to cross, I
realize that little old man in a fedora was my
father who died playing tennis at Barnard’s fifty
years ago.

Throngs of Christmas shoppers jostle me
going and coming.  The whole Where’s Waldo
world seems to pass by, but I am paralyzed
and cannot step off the curb.

Poems find you, but not in the way you expect.

FG    6/10/2015

My way into a poem is through looking.  Observation of the real world is important.  No ideas but in things as I think Dr. Williams said.  When poets look they are always trying to couple the vision to metaphor – something that explains, something deeper.  It’s that searching for meaning that is the hall mark of literature.  Yet, Father Frost said that all metaphors fail at some point and I agree with him, so looking is not the complete alpha and omega of poetry.  In the best poems there is something more, like someone playing a piano forte in a side room.  It’s a self realization that turns back in on the poet. 

I wanted to call this poem “before you can formulate a question” which I think is a needle in the arm definition of poetry.

Manchester is close to Goffstown, right? 

Like the Climate Change scientists, the more I write the less you believe in my poetry.

Ok, I wrote it because I could never find Waldo.