I wrote this poem for a class a few years ago…. it ended up being a “down to the wire” kind of assignment, as I sat down to write the night before the assignment was due. It came to me in what I can only refer to as a miracle, as I don’t know that I’ve written anything as good since. I hope you like it.
Mae Hong Song Loop
Teak forests rarely offer directions.
Neither do terraced rice paddies
Gleaming an impossibly brilliant green,
And roadside Buddha shrines are often silent.
Children appear from nowhere, everywhere.
We play basketball with them.
They mimic our curses at missed shots
Relishing the American-ness of our words.
The old men don’t speak,
Pacing broken roads that lead to Burma
And caves inhabited by holy carp.
Opium pipes and Bic lighters,
Cradled in weathered palms.
The poppies thrive beneath tarps
On hillsides and in yards.
Kilometers, liters and a pieced together motorcycle
Take us through the Golden Triangle.
Where tiny towns beckon with glass bottles of Coke
And forbidden jungle curry
Served by breathtakingly lovely young girls.
Embarrassed by me or for me I can’t tell.
I speak no Thai.