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Friday, October 12, 2012

Poem of the Week: Darker Than the Brilliant Thai Sun, Burgess Needle

Sanguan drew me back to Pak Wan promising
Exotic, lost Khmer temples
chattering monkeys and tall pagodas.
Teak floorboards of his home gleamed
hours of banana husks rubbed them new
an ancient woman in stained pasin smiled
Toothlessly with betel nut stained gums
a drool of red by her chin.
Sanguan hacked  a coconut open
ah that sweet, cool liquid, while inside
his walls plastered with Brando and Presley posters.
Sunlight broke through the roof’s palm leaves
off that glowing floor, curled Playboy covers
Sanguan’s belt buckle, the crone’s eyes glittered.
Sanguan grasped my little finger, drew
me over to her, skin and bones quivering
beneath me, she appeared delirious.
He let go of me, clasped his palms together, bowed
in her direction just as an enormous spider
lowered itself, leg over leg, inches away.
“I have to go home,” I said. The hairy arachnid seemed
to applaud. “Really, I must go.”
Whispering, he urged, “Be polite. Say hello to
my mother. You are her first foreigner.”
Outside, on a wide wooden platform,
Sanguan’s aunt and great-nephews
fed a pet monkey.
The monkey saw only the food
The people saw only the monkey
The camera saw only figures darker
than the brilliant Thai sun
that illuminated everything.

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