Thailand

Big Fish

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Many thanks to Gyroscope Review for publishing the following poem in their Winter 2017 issue: 

Big Fish

                                         —restaurant & bungalows

Last year, a beach-view balcony

  a midnight breeze brought salt

    thirsty lime juice on our lips

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At lunch, cotton-stuffed cushions

  tables tall as crisscrossed knees

    curries spiced with dragon weed

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This year, a cold-water room out back

  garden dogs, mosquito verandah

    laptop lines and letters glow

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Tonight, back for another sea breeze

  pineapple curry on chicken and rice

    I breathe the freedom absence brings

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Your absence, a ghost seated beside me

  stirs her own papaya pleasure

   same same, yes yes, but different

.

The Tao of Doing Less

cal-quarterly

Many thanks to the California State Poetry Society for publishing the following poem in California Quarterly.

 The Tao of Doing Less

                                                            —Koh Tao, 2012

All night, breezes brush the trees

  palm fronds imitate the rain

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When light appears, I rise from bed

  slip into the hammock on the stoop

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Dogs already up and down the beach

  island mynas pecking fallen garden seeds

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It’s enough for me, this warm humidity

  this balm to calm my aimless wandering

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Each morning, we wake to reinvent ourselves

  each day attempts to best the day before

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Though not today, not in this old hammock

  not with time before me like an open road

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This morning brings its gift of slow simplicity

  nothing but nothing wrapped in nothing

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I light a cigarette, take a sip of water

  scratch a bite that itches on my arm

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I have come so far to do so little

  give me more, give me more, give me more

More Cinema Sketches

Finished shooting a friend’s short film this weekend.  Sketched a few more images based on cell-phone photos.

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Was so tired after the wrap today, didn’t think I’d be able to draw…

Decided to take one minute to draw a feather I found in the backyard…

Thought I’d draw it only once…

Felt so good to draw one, I just kept going…

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Long-Tail Taxis

Long-Tail Taxi

Many thanks to Marathon Literary Review for including the following poem in their June 2015 issue.

Long-Tail Taxis

                                           —Gulf of Thailand, 2012

Overcast dawn, low tide gray
..long-tail taxis bob awaiting rain
….waters to rise, to start their day

Tethered to trees, long rough ropes
..sitting still as Buddha grins
….quiet squirrels in coconut trees

One boat fat with jungle fruit
..Thai flag flapping, edges affray
….suns and moons of salty spray

I am a squirrel at a teakwood table
..curry and rice and coffee consumed
….waiting, too, for clouds to clear

That girthy garden statue squints
..always aware of this one moment
….low tide, high tide, water waist or ankle deep

Sunshine Bungalow

Sunshine

Many thanks to Panoplyzine, an online literary journal, for including the following poem in their Summer 2015 issue.

Sunshine Bungalow

                                                                  –Koa Tao, 2012

No coo-coo clock, no digital chime
..no mechanical ring, no alarm
….nothing to nudge me from my dream

Only the sweep of garden leaves
..the blossoms’ breath, plumeria, weed
….my hammock on the balcony

Down the path, a match strikes a can
a knife chops chilis, oil hits a pan

Breakfast by Myself

gyroscope

Many thanks to the editors of Gyroscope, an online literary review, for including the following poem in their January 2016 issue:

Breakfast by Myself

                                                             —Pattaya, Thailand 2013

To start, I spark a cigarette

..remove my frames so I can’t see

….the stares of strangers passing by

……their kind, misguided sympathy

 .

They must presume I must be sad

..sitting solo at a table set for two

….no hand to squeeze, no one to thank

……for sparing me their sorry stares

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But I’m not blind:  I stare, too

..couples leaning back in wicker chairs

….some laconic, poking at porridge

……each alone devising their escape

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Others gab, chatting up the rain

..jabber rolls like rice across the floor

….bored companions act amused

……grateful to be spared my sorry state

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Yet I am not alone, not with paper

..not with more than fifty years of ink

….not with you a world or life away

……you now nodding—yes, yes, yes

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Yet Another Thailand Poem

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Many thanks to Clementine, an on-line literary magazine, for publishing the following poem in their September 2015 issue.

Hand-Rolled Smokes

                                                     —for Ez

Not Drum, not other Euro brands

..I pop the cap of a Black Cat can

….exercise my old arthritic thumbs

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Not your standard pack of pre-fab Zigs

..nothing manufactured overseas

….I purchase a pack of trimmed tree leaves

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A local showed me how to twist a leaf

..keep it rolled without a line of glue

….keep it loose to let the burning breathe

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Once between my lips, my two front teeth

..I lay back and puff the local reed

….let its incense burn beneath my nose

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Small warm clouds of me float away as smoke

I become the island, come and take a toke

..

Two New Thailand Poems

Front Range Review

Many thanks to Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado, for publishing the following two poems in the Spring 2015 issue of Front Range Review:

Burmese Pantoum

                                         —Sunshine Bungalows, 2001

Each morning in my bungalow

  I rise—not to songs of garden birds

    but Burmese boys on the beach

      brooms in their hands, brushing the sand

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Before I rise, I dream of Burmese birds

 sweeping last night’s fallen leaves

   brooms in their wings, brushing the sand

     evidence of last night’s hash?

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After sweeping garden leaves

 after washing clothes, after gutting fish

   after a bowl of last night’s hash

     that Burmese plucks his old guitar

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I listen after washing, bowl full of fish

 white talc smoothed across his face

   that Burmese plucks at his guitar

     sings an ocean melody

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White talc paths swept smooth each dawn

 no birds outside my bungalow

   I hear the ocean’s melody

     a Burmese boy on the beach

 

Burmese Melody

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The End of Unknown Pleasures

                                                                          —Koh Tao, 2013

 Something old, something known

     familiar, guaranteed

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Mornings of sun on a half-moon beach

     blue sarong, old white skin gone brown

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Taking the terrier out for a stroll

     same old path to the PO Box

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Soaking in claw-foot candlelight

     joint in the old tin tray

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People say, Try something new

      Go someplace you’ve never been

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That might be fine were I still young

     time on my hands, no watch on my wrist

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Now, mid-afternoon of my tan

     too aware that the sun must sleep

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I swap my dreams for pebbles

     joys I might discover on the road

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Nuggets of gold, manna from heaven

     women sunning topless on the strand

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Now even these are old and known

     even these—and so I sit and breathe

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Chalok Ban Kao

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Many thanks to Steam Ticket, a literary journal published buy the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, for publishing the following poem in their Spring 2015 issue.

Chalok Ban Kao                                           

                                                —Koh Tao, Thailand 

Privacy—so public here in paradise

  things best left behind bamboo

    a market stall of mango nuts

That couple on their morning stroll

  their steps into the soupy sea

    a flirty splash or two or three

 p

After a kiss, he’s stomping back to shore

  kicking the calm green buoyance

    girlfriend left to wonder what’s gone wrong

p

It’s bread and circus for the beach

  karaoke tourists, fools taking turns

    staging their small dramas for the bored

p

Even I and my coffee are seen

  woman alone at a teakwood table

    and I watch her watch me

 p

Here comes her tan companion

  her leading man, her garden palm

    their bickering falls like sudden rain

 p

My own companion’s abandoned me

  left at dawn for scuba school

    a Sunday swim with silent fish

 p

So much I’d like to say to her

  to issue my objections and complaints

    popping fried eggs in hot, hot oil

 p

Three Thailand Poems

Lime Hawk

Many thanks to Lime Hawk, an online quarterly literary journal, for publishing the following three poems in their Spring 2015 issue.

 The ABCs of Khao San Road

                                                                  —Bangkok, 2013

At night, under neon, parties appear

Backpacking tourists hip-hopping the globe

Cram the narrow road with manic music

Drumbeats, electric rock, beers in the air

Even young children run drunk on pleasure

(Families, too, are welcome here in Hell)

Guava, pineapple, papaya for sale

Have you ever tried a fried scorpion?

I settle for a Chang, a hand-rolled smoke

Just don’t sell me another souvenir

Knick-knacks, doodads, mass-produced in China

Leave me be in the midst of this madness

Me, mid-50s, too old to play the fool

No one needs a new tattoo on their face

Or three hooded wives like that bearded guy

People here either sell shit or buy shit

Quality, quantity, no real concern

Recently, a man was stabbed for laughing

Someone thought it rude; no one said a word

The killer kept drinking, dancing till dawn

Until the sun rose, demons undenied

Very few survive such wild indulgence

We wake after noon, vomit and forget

Exactly what we did the night before

Your eyes might roll, thinking I’m some priest

Zoos are fun, even home if you’re a beast

 p 

Last Night on Koh Tao

                                                             —Gulf of Thailand, 2013

Lost my beaded necklace east of Bangkok

wore it for a dozen years, then gone

an old friend disappeared

 p

Several hundred miles south

fresh new beads around my neck

I lose my black bandana

 p

Things come, things go

they enter through an unseen door

then exit through a window where a wall does not exist

p

Tomorrow, on the ferry home

aaI’ll say So long to this small stone

aaaafive times now in fifteen years

 p

Each time, I’ve smuggled one small piece

for now, all I hold is this full moon

this breeze, these gentle lapping waves

 p

Things come, things go

as I have done and must again

a firefly, a spark across the sky

p

 Chumphon Ferry

                                               —Gulf of Thailand, 2013

Koh Tao disappears—again

the island shrinks, small gray minnow

swallowed by a thirsty sea

 p

Beside a woman on a back-deck bench

aableach-blonde hair buzzed like a boy

aaaaour tongues are incompatible

 p

I shut my eyes, leave the past behind

the candlelight, the ceiling fan

dog asleep on my bungalow steps

 p

I’m a stray, too, solo on the road

only my breath for company

so much more than I could ever need

p

In Praise of Cracked Minds

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Many thanks to Hinchas de Poesia, an online journal of contemporary pan-american writing, for including the following poem in their April 2015 issue.

In Praise of Cracked Minds

                                                         —for Marlene Goldman

Praise the days when our minds crack open

 open like clam shells struck by fallen stones

  stones splitting open, sudden thunder storms

   storms of new ideas spread across the beach

 d

Beach the giant whales, introduce them to the sun

 sunshine: that new elixir for their fears

  fears of drowning, suffocating sand

   sand, they’ll see, makes a bed of pure pleasure

 d

Sure, we think of giant whales at sea

 see them spout as they migrate north

  north and out of range, beyond our senses

   senses long accustomed to what we all believe

d

Leave, for a moment, all those old ideas

 as if old clothes that no longer fit

  fit them into boxes, store them on a shelf

   shelve them there with what’s no longer true

 d

True—new ideas may at first feel snug

 snuggle with them, treat them like new lovers

  lovers who allow you room to shed your old display

   play, instead, with novelty; bounce it like a ball

d

Ball it up and toss it in the air:  Have fun

 funny how the new reminds us each of death

  death, remember, lets us breathe eternal time

   time for thanks, time to sing our praise

d

Two New Poems

Helix

Many thanks to Helix, a literary journal published by Central Connecticut State University, for including the following two poems in their Fall 2014 issue.

On Buddha Bay

                                          –for Johanna

 Light off, ceiling fan awhirl

   late-night geckos echo warbled songs

p

Songs to lullaby our eyes

   to leave the day behind

p

The bone in your vegan curry

   the motorbike burn on my knee

p

Release these passport aches and pains

   bury them like turtle eggs in sand

p
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Self-Portrait:  Ankles Down

                                                                  –Thailand, 2012

Consider the veins of my old feet

   big thick roots of a mangrove tree

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Betrayers of age, craving warm baths

   each new step presses out a path

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Here, at noon, on my veranda rail

   each tan toe, a fresh-clipped nail

p

“Days in Pattaya”

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Many thanks to Segue, an online literary journal published by Miami University of Ohio for including the following poem in their Fall 2014 issue.

Days in Pattaya

                                          —Thailand, 2013

 On aching hot days, I pray for cool dusk

  band of orange across the western sky

    rising moon, planets, stars

      each an old acquaintance—silent, serene

 p

Come sunset, as thirsty mozzies swarm

  as motorbikes buzz, I dream of dawn

    band of orange across the eastern sky

      smooth beach bare of night

 p

Mornings, sizzling like a plate of eggs

  I pray again for dusk—all its disappointments

    my monkey mind cannot sit still, cannot

      find satisfaction in a cup of tea

p

Day by day, I plant no purpose here

  only pen and paper, only hope

    a garden might bloom, leaves full of fruit

     a summer flower bending toward the fall

It’s All Good

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When we got back from Thailand, she said she couldn’t “see” me anymore — “no phone calls, no emails, no texts.”  She said she was setting me “free.”  During the five months we dated, she noted, I hadn’t written her a single poem.  That hurt, she said.  Up until our breakup, I hadn’t written any poems for more than a year.  Oddly, her disappointment inspired me.  Freedom always breathes an air of opportunity.

Yo Baby

                                —August 2014

 A tsunami arrived that day

  you spread your jam

    on my smooth sand

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A hurricane blew

  a ukulele tune

    farther and farther, out to sea

g

 In your summer absence

  autumn winds arrived

    warm air oiled up the beach

 g

And that icy-hot sun

  your sun, ever present

    finally set one dawn

 g

Now all the birds fly free

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