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barangs

November 18, 2017

barangs are very odd
walk everywhere
not like normal people

wear almost no clothes
even when they are old
and always want to be brown skin

walk in the hot sun
walk in big group, many of them,
like monkey family but standing up
even late at night lost
looking for hotel maybe

barang get angry for no reason
want to change
want to change everything
want to change everything right now
not like regular folk

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slow thought

November 9, 2017

slow walk
slow thought
and time expands in passing

time to hide
and time to crawl to the surface
and blink

time to be alone
and time to be around,
time for silence
and time for blather

time to throw back your head
and sing
time to lay down your head
and cry

touching love, death,
joy
in a single night

time to walk slow
and time to make haste

time to throw back your head
and sing
time to lay down your head
and cry

some of the many rains of Cambodia

November 9, 2017

sometimes my favourite rain is the
sudden, unanticipated downpour

other times it’s the almostmist
angeldust sprinkling
of a late night bicycle ride

or the one that
lulls me into
afternoon sleep

there’s also the one that
stops the clock,
that extends a conversation,
that adds a little to a bill
and a friendship

sometimes it’s the first fresh one of the season
and other times it’s thinking it’s the last

notes for the Phnom Penh expat novel I will never write, lacking both expertise and discipline

October 15, 2017

he hated the city
but he could never leave
because it had awoken in him
an unanticipated latent fetish
for women on motorcycles

whenever he decided
he’d had enough
a walk in the street
brought him back to heaven

she was about to leave
though she hated to go
back to the tortures that
awaited her in the
kingdoms of fear

but forms had been signed
and commitments made
and other plans abandoned
because because because
because

for three days
and three nights
they were awash
in a twisted knot
of sweat and beer
and genitals,
each grasping for
an escape from
their chosen fates

climbing each other
like ladders
for a view above
the parapet,
squeezing each other
in desperation
for either an answer
or for drowning out
the questions

as the last day breaks
across their shoulders,
they fondle their passports
and indulge, as they can,
the freedoms they think
they are seeking,
the freedoms they think
they don’t have,
the freedoms they
are trapped in

catching the next train of thought

September 28, 2017

catching the next
train of thought
leaving soon
for destinies both
selected and unchosen

the revolution of fans
and the evolution of
misheard phrases and
half-heard invocations

a thunderclap and the
laugh of a child
break through the
molasses days
and quicksilver nights

baby steps and
minute recalibrations
coax towards a
still, calm surrender

a lick and a scratch
a misplaced flower
combine to form something like
an old Motown song
a gently falling comfort again

contradictions

September 11, 2017

a land of deep and ancient history
and of little thought of tomorrow

of extraordinary generosity
and appalling selfishness

of wealth and poverty,
of wide open space and swelling sprawl

of relentless pursuits
and immense laziness

of great warmth
and astonishing pettiness

of opportunity for most
and cruelty for a few

of artistic and spiritual achievement
and hurricane-strength consumerism

of bursts of insight
and depths of denial

a land in which I lived for my first 41 years

afterstorm

September 10, 2017

rainwet streets
and drizzly air,
with hat and book

justdone fullmoon is
off hiding somewhere behind
something or other

orange lights glint
on the undulating river,
purposeless at 3 am

reverberation
of thought, half
grasped and half digested

the air is full
of promise and
decay

clanking of bottles on pavement,
finding a path around
inundated fetid intersection

the final march
down my street,
the last few offers
of tuk tuks

the satisfaction of
keys in the pocket,
and a hungry cat behind the door