Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Friday, October 28, 2016

Before The Start Of Day

At 6 am a cloud bank to the east is like

an awning over the predawn-world. 

The clouds don’t give up much rain,

but it is enough to make the roads blacker

than normal until they look like the deep rich

black roads in new car ads.  I’m giving Biew

a five mile ride to catch the college train

to Lop Buri.   I drive in to Chong Khae with

low beams on and back home with just

parking lights.

There’s a theatrical hush this morning like

being in a school auditorium before the curtain

goes up.  These are hard times, and we pass

many road side stands built with sticks and

tin roofs - all are selling the same food.  These

stands are just stirring.  A man with a white

strap-bag hat is vigorously fanning charcoal. 

A cloud, looking more like steam than smoke,

rises up from small fingers of orange flame. 

Monks are out at this time of day, too, swapping

prayers for bowls of rice. They stand erect in their

saffron robes chanting while people kneel by

the side of the road. Set back and down in a hollow

near a cornfield is another stand, but this one

has a hay roof.  The stand is empty at the moment

and looks abandoned as a thin mist from a forest

of black-leafed trees descends upon it.  The black

leaves will turn a vibrant British racing green

in a few minutes when the sun rises.

The last three hundred feet to the train station

is like a military obstacle course where cardboard

villains pop up and you are required to shoot

or not in a split second. I drive very slowly amid

the bustle of motor bikes and bikes and pedestrians.

I never use the car’s horn.  Even in Bangkok

drivers do not use car horns.

I drop Biew off and make my way around

the traffic circle with my head on a fighter

pilot’s swivel.  At the corner by the bank,

the town has put up a sign that says

no parking.  A woman is selling grilled

chicken under a blue umbrella by the sign.

People in cars and motor bikes are jammed

up around the sign, waiting to get breakfast. 

It’s a traffic pinch-point I have to negotiate

every morning.  She’ll be gone by seven,

but before the start of every day, she does

a good business.

I make it over the train tracks just as the gates

are coming down.  Biew is on her way to college

and the rest of her life, I am on the way back

home where everyone else is still sleeping.

The day can begin now.

FG                   10/28/2016

There are two convenience stores now on the circle.  Neither has a parking lot so cars are often double or triple parked. Both are open 24/7 and it is these “timings” as the British might say that is a demarcation point between old Siam and modern Thailand.  Maybe it is the line between urban life (where we all will live soon) and the slower rural life of old.  Still, color and beauty just drips from this place.