welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #97, Thailand, July 26-August 7, 2004

paige introducing me
as a chair, not a poet
a very deep chair

seven dogs and cats
vie for scraps of leftovers,
pee in corner

thai insect squeaking
like rusty garden swing
crickets hum chorus

bad karaoke
amplified 'til the wee hours
in quiet village

teenage hot mopeds
chased by ineffective cops
enforcing no laws

familiar green, orange, red
on streets of ban phu

i get up to pee
meet guardian frog in loo
puddles everywhere

wet environment
ants on rice on plates
kittens on counter

on thai radio
songs about eating small bugs
and drinking whiskey

no worries here mate
just follow paige around town
'cause she speaks good thai

feeling naked
in back seat without seatbelt
narrow two-lane road

noisy teenagers
insects, doves, dogs and roosters
chief on loudspeaker

monk burping betel
spitting into large red urn
underneath stupa

temple dog gentle

young monk asking paige
if she will translate love letter
to some german girl

scattered by sculptures
rooster asserts dominance
on concrete buddha

tourists, monks wander
amongst concrete likenesses
of sacred motifs

a day in july
feeding fish in sculpture park
gaping mouths groping

in this case the form
transcends the material -
concrete buddhas

guy who made sculptures
now embalmed in plastic dome
not quite ho chi minh /
in florescent hallway

chicken shaking snake
slithery serpent seeking
release from rooster

the distant, dull roar
of noisy asian morning
so much for earplugs

now i understand:
the concept of personal space
just doesn't exist

sandwiched between
karaoke and town crier
a man trying to sleep

southeast asia
inbetween differing peoples,
languages, political systems,
mopeds, food, social organization,
societal ills and advantages,
there is the common thread of
green abundant landscapes,
ecological diversity, cast-off dishwater
in street gutters, concrete infrastructure,
and cell phones everywhere.

add to that a smattering of the
phenomenon known as: karaoke.
i wish the lady who
complains about the highly
monitored music next door
to the solstice institute could come
and experience
neighborhood karaoke in ban phu, thailand.
not only would she feel it was
not her right to ask the music
be turned down after ten p.m.,
she would have no-one to turn to
when it blared past midnight,
not the policeman who lived next door,
afraid to confront the youths;
not a civil code that
outlines noise regulations,
or the structure to enforce that.
the teenagers, drunk on whiskey
and motorbikes and singing flat,
would run roughshod over
her sensibilities.

one last dinner
we think, the place we choose
across the river, is not too far
for a quick tuk-tuk ride
so we negotiate with the first driver who stops.
he seems to understand the direction
but immediately pulls a u-turn
and starts going the other way.
we know something is wrong from the start.
paige is speaking thai, wanting to know
what he is doing
he speaks very quickly
she is getting frustrated
we are cruising along
at a high rate of speed
away from the restaurant
finally he pulls into a side street
where a group of other tuk-tuks are waiting
he admits that he does not know
where he is going
his friend does,
though he demands more money -
he wants 160 bhat,
to take us back past where we started
paige is arguing now,
in broken thai
she gets it down to 60
but when he starts driving
i know we are in for a wild ride
taxis, busses, pedestrians
barely make it out of our way
we take corners too fast
straight-ways taken like the grand prix
we roll into the restaurant
ready for our peaceful meal
totally flustered

not feeding the monks
we go to the mall instead
like other bad thais

homeless, faceless face
just mine, or the one that's
looking back at me?

bitten by cobra
she survives, gives me betel
lady with few teeth

ravel's bolero
transformed into cell phone ring
in rural thailand

protective mama?
elephant pees on her child
who just rolls over

at the hospital
elephant paces about
with mine-damaged leg

elephants do tricks
then wait for the real event;
snarfing sugar cane

sick guy with no trunk
in rehabilatation
nostrils sweat like tears

wrinkled thai woman
holding flawless white blossom
on streets of chiang mai

giddy with laughter
four-wheeling with elephant
toes brush thick grey skin

his 'white trash' t-shirt
announces as much with pic
of trailer on front

chiang mai afternoon
tourists walk down smoggy streets
looking for buddha

counteracting smog
i pick up blossom on street
inhaling perfume

confusing toll way
paying once at the entrance
and once at the end

could be anywhere
singapore, bangkok, tokyo

scum backpacker land
in the heart of khao san road
beginning and end

four monks in taxi
meter goes down to zero
negative car-ma

absolutely still
white mouse stiff and motionless
in mangrove snake jaws

is mouse not aware
that it will soon be dinner?
mangrove snake awaits

at snake institute
venom collected, processed
for snake bite victims

snake is a muscle
with reptilian head
ready to react

transvestite pauses
sizing up territory
along patpong road

guy selling live fish
on pole full of plastic baggies
in bangkok downpour

distinguished white man
walking seedy avenue
holding black briefcase

pimps and prostitutes,
seek shelter from the rain,
mingle with tourists

'if there are monks here,
they won't be dressed in saffron'
paige says knowingly

avenue of vice
women crowding stairwell
waiting to walk up

financial district
overlooking sex district
no coincidence?

totally bored
as she squeezes banana
from her vagina

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen