Wednesday, January 13, 2016


The skies cleared somewhat
As the road left Bangkok
Behind us
On a tiger's new world stage;
And we travelled routes
Leading west-north-west
To see remnants
Of a more heroic age
When Naresuan
Armed elephants for war,
To defeat his foreign foes in battle -
Single combat between kings -
That ensured
Thailand would be no alien's chattel.
I know Don Chedi's mound will stay with me -
Victory’s relic rising in my dreams.
My night-time eyes will take me back
And I’ll see Ayutthaya’s moats -
Now placid streams -
Graceful grand wats
Worn out only by time,
And the face
Of smiling Buddha reclined.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Precinct of soldiers murdered,
Sacrificed to bridges, cuttings,
And bloody empire,
Fiefdom of thugs once lauded,
Such sordid lords of the flies,
Burning now in hell fire.
But the place is party central tonight,
Tourists walked their dogs
On the bridge today,
All along the river
Lights burn so bright
While floating restaurants
Blast and beat their way
Under the bridge,
Hidden, black as darkness,
As if it only spanned
In daylight hours,
This monument, this testament,
This curse
Upon another era's greatest powers.
Today I walked by the graves
And I cried,
Stressed tears
For lives stolen away.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


By the docks of Koh Samed
There’s a guard,
A fierce ogress,
Her mouth a vicious grin,
With the figure
Of an epic’s goddess,
Her face vile
From her hairline to her chin.
But now she’s set
The task of sentinel,
This gruesome beast
Of Phra Aphai Mani,
Her back towards
The craft-crammed fishing port,
Schemer, mermaid-eater,
Bogus beauty.
She laughs at the offspring
Of Sukhumvit,
Arriving to play
On the isle today
Under the gaze
Of Nang Phisua Samut,
Who can surely see
‘Round to every bay.
A suntanned man stares
At her from the pier,
White-bearded, grey-green eyes,
Thirsty for beer.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Shining above a city of diamonds,
On limestone hills that stretch out like tree roots
From the base of the Tenasserim Range,
The grand citadel of Khao Wang salutes.
Mongkut’s summer palace and royal wat
Adorn each rise like flooding waterfalls;
Sweeping porches perched on the counterslopes,
Bougainvilleas potted near plastered walls.
Beyond the tricoloured paper petals
Are massed stands of dormant leelawadee,
Branches reaching upward like amorous hands
Studded with buds soon to be flowered free.
Away from the crowds a silence glistens,
Wise men must gaze, a wiser soul listens.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


"I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas."
(T S Eliot, 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock')

Beaches of the western gulf are quiet,
Waves neither crash nor roar,
But sigh and moan,
As if their thoughts
Were deeply drowned secrets
And the shouts of surf
Would render them known.
The day's colours
All fade into one shade -
Ocean, sand too,
Powdered blue-grey, grey-blue.
Some pigments change
Upon sunset's climax -
Scarlet, gold,
Above the craggy peaked view.
Young women pose
For digital portraits,
Picked by fingers
Of doting paramours;
No one, except me,
Seems to see the sea,
Only the girls' wet feet
Can sense its shores.
Ancient ‘farang’ men
Give iced beers a nudge,
Hiding ragged claws,
Minds prone to misjudge.

In January there's a cold north wind,
And even Nordic types
Wear shoes and socks,
While the townspeople
Don scarves and jackets
To watch pale green streams
Slap against the rocks.
There are confusions
In this climate change -
Strangely the sea spray still feels
Slightly warm
For those who know
Places of harsh winters,
And rain comes teeming
Like a summer storm.
Fragrances of pungent leelawadee
Soft mask the scent of salt
On beachside roads,
Mixing with smoke
From street stall barbecues.
Massage shops are empty,
No one disrobes.
The same foreign men
Sip cola and rum,
Hiding ragged claws,
Waiting for the sun.