Wednesday, July 28, 2010

canoe still life

The water is soft,
meaningless fog creeps inside my eyes,
a cloak of invisibility a shroud to brain speaking and intelligent whispers.
glup glup glup glub glub blug blug! bubbles away the heavy mixed tonic as it submerges with the lake, one, two
cloth sticks skin on skin, the dampness of a tropical heat, and pruney toes //
these are the things that only I know as I – I become a part of this scene
and underneath it, stuck in mud, a harsh thread cuts open my fingerprints with shattered blood
disappearing without a trace, I embrace the scent of iron with my whole.

I lick up this locked-up lake with eyes of yearning and misinterpretation,
A canoe tugs behind me and false, weak stilettos walk across the bottomless base
Thrashing through the puddle is in fact no effort at all – but is the opposite of effort as in effortless.
I pull up to the shore where I had seen five – six of you waiting
Trailed by a piranha and his razor teeth, curly jungle hair like a scary doll which I fear not at all
I am walking on thin air though not stifled by it,
Feeling awake, alive enough to crawl through beds, eyeless, faceless, rather than play a tennis game.
Fame, it is a noble, creeping monster that lurks in the spirit house.

Friday, July 16, 2010


A crow on the electric line – no, two –
Blue fairies and their black eyes, button holes,
Eaten out like worms gnawing at the ground like meaningful moles
Down below we cannot fathom the expanse of a rich cloud
Poles open wide, both ends a void
Evading cantankerous dust

Forward dwarf
A lofty lustful cloud of dust
The stairs are ring pulls
- by that I mean we get stuck in the wine cork of this place
Hidden traps, stick your hand into the void
You know you won’t come out whole
A day soul swallowed up in the steel bathtub under those stairs
Where you sit on the toilet and watch black and white television
It’s a dimpled warp in this universe of iron

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

speckled man

It’s not so much that you crouch and pummel the tennis balls through the walls that frown me//

A clown of forgiveness, I take in coffee cups as tokens of your coins
Assuaging the tunnel of wilted guilt//

The frozen slices of grapefruit teardrops that flake off your skin
Breathe to me madness//

In your hallway proudly stands a headless mannequin
Ribs, skeleton, I smell the sickness of up north

You continue drifting to the poles
An iceberg lettuce salad
Calorie-less, empty as a watery crunch,
Shards dissipating in heavy clouds.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Those I did not ever see again.

I returned to your house on the hill
it was still there,
the feeling.

I had to go there to make sure I didn't lose it.

I climbed up the hole in the wall
and lay in your sheets
let the web of unknowing cloak my eyes

Sat at the traffic light, yours next to mine
goodbye, and see you next time

I see that you are crying but I don't see it at all, only the hot water tears.

I write backwards in the hope that poetry will return you to me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The daze of the weak

Today I am a lightbulb
an eyeball in the ceiling
burst of flame,
I spontaneously combust.

Pink and blue
left hands, matching
no step, no
is it a guarantee
to partake in
emptying the clock of seconds
slaves to the closed circuit.

A cavern of cheeks
the pirate ship
decaying treasure.

'X' marks the spot
a smile is a sunken
barrel of sand.

My Converse give me
through your eyes

I, who have disappeared from view.

Converse stuck in Mundane's mud
left behind from
monsoon rains

A hill tribe man may wear them

Converse. A Blue Angel label.

A turtle is the saddest animal in the world today.

A crow landed on his mobile house
and told him
he is not unique -
sea animals also have shells
and there is such thing as the sea
which he will never see.

From fear
grow wings
Flydy evening
sat in blue
outside the hospital.

Hearts paralyzed by spreading wings
the bird, released from captivity,
knows not how to fly
returns to its cage.
Roaring with tingles,
the tiger attempts a growl
but all that echoes is a whisper.

Knock the skull against the window
a fly buzzes, sawing away at the
Everest of hate.
Glaciers melt, hate and fear combine
Muscles of the wings atrophy

thou shalt not become a trophy

knowing is leading
lead the way
fly away

It is not the saddest day
but 'tis certainly one of the sadder ones.

Become an ostrich -
Bury your head in the dust.

(It can't be as bad as
listening to soft jazz remakes of 'YMCA' on repeat).


This is what happens,
listening to untruths in the hot street,
your cigarette ash feathers in the gutter.
We march onward, members of the French Foreign Legion, and enemies, one to the other.

A bird's nest of hair chokes, gags me to the sagging sheets and faraway disappearances on the balcony when I think the event an unoccurrence.

Must you come inside tonight?
How many other times I've wished your fingers twisted in mine,
your admiration, your lust.

One second, blind and crime scene to be tampered with, bottles clink in reunion on balcony, cigarette butts and trail of the underworld, a scent of goosebumps on thighs and smoky trail of black cap stuck in the bed cover.

Truths and untruths,
your past parallels my present state,
a liar smoking on the surface of reality.

An object, used, the "for rent" sign lies on the balcony.

I have morphed into the unavoidable,
the state of the slug drowning in
a hot drug,
triangle of tears.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

torn flag

The profiles of the people on the beach
wrapped in skin-licking bikinis and sarongs with Indonesian patterns
and the man with his sunglasses on, reading the book but actually staring at breasts through tented lenses. They chat, sitting under pine trees that reach close to the beach.

Pine trees on a beach?

They stand close enough to breathe and drink the salt air and absorb life through the tourists' eyes. These trees who drape the beach with their tall fixtures already know where they are in life but look to the human tourists as a sort of amusement.

To the left, the bird calls his friend, and to the right, the engine roars and the race along the beach has rolled up tunnels of energy. It's like the energy contained in human beings; it is constant in its roaring and eating of carrion.

Nothing will be satisfied in this way, yet the ocean cannot retire and blame the ageing process.

The young man carries a pint of piss-colored beer and walks out into the sun. He stretches his head upward and moves his shoulders back, the muscles in his back accentuating his skeleton. Enough of the sun and turn position to lying down on the hotel-provided gray towel, eyes closed and facial expression appears as though everything is in its proper place, 2-day beard growth included. He rests his arm on the plastic beach chair's armrest.

Around his right wrist is a handmade bracelet, likely bought on a street corner in Bangkok. He wears waterproof gray shorts, nearly knee-length. Some would consider him handsome, athletic. He appears to be in a slumber and is perhaps contemplating, or just resting, thinking of emptiness.

Those who spend hours in deep sleep become a part of the world of slumber.

The torn flag, colors red, white and blue, wraps tightly around its pole, just as the domineering husband wraps his fingers 'round his wife's neck.

The holes and the torn bits and the swells in the heart that subside only with time and yet this process still does not lead to the cure. A man in his navy-blue Speedo and plastic sandals walks underneath the torn illusion of a nation. He does not know where he goes.

At the feet of the slumbering young man, someone is selling patterned sarongs.

My toes look like twigs, twisted to the sand, and the black nail polish wares down. It looks grotesque.

The tailor, with his shop on the beach, perhaps he is Indian or from Myanmar, though his nationality to me is uncertain, kicks around a flat soccerball, barefoot, across the sand, under the shade of the pine trees. The sand is prickly with Durian-shaped mini pinecones, and a tiny ant is attacking my toe. He likely does not approve of my toenail polish.

The husband and wife talk quietly to one another, while the wife dreams to herself of being a wandering yogi. The ageing tourists, their fronts pushed down by gravity, waddle past. They do not harm the surface.

The old British lady bends down with toil to reach the hose to water down her sandy feet. She wears a straw sunhat surrounded by a black ribbon. She walks toward her hotel room, followed by her husband of many years.

At the water hose, two Asians appear, then disappear. One wears a white Polo Speedo, 'Polo' in white across the butt cheeks. The other wears long swim shorts and drapes a blue towel across his shoulders. They are gone.

The Thai man in his shorts, t-shirt, and bare feet reads with interest a book in the shade of the awning of the tailor's shop. He looks like he could be a runner with his drawn-out muscles. He turns the page.

The Indian tailor kicks the soccerball against the pine tree and the young man who was lying down stands up again and relocated. I look at the Indian tailor. He looks back at me.

The puppy to the right emerges from his sleeping spot under the tree. He has a jinglebell collar round his neck and sits upright, gazing at the Indian tailor with the soccerball who calls to Ricky and the dog follows his voice.

The universe melts into another, in tandem with the heat of the afternoon and the roar of the curvaceous sea. I am in a previous universe, walking alone through Primrose Hill. It is May and I walk through the path that's centered between two bare fields in the middle of the city, surrounding myself in existential angst.

This universe is the underworld, seeking redemption. We await mornings of coffee cups and afternoons of cups of tea and sultano cookies, here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The art of running in a monsoon

Up above, Sky is in emotional turmoil; he faces an evening comparable to the sort of week I just went through. One second slipping; the next, awake and ready to live.
How to account for the psychological patterns of Sky? Shall we give him a Xanax, or some Prozac, or just let him sit it out in his own due course and let him explode with the anger that he’s allowed to build up over these past weeks? He’s weak; long ago he lost control over his mind, and it’s not as though we can take him to the psych unit any time soon. The waitlist is just too long and we don’t have the time to wait. We spend the time worrying – and pondering – over what he’ll do next.

His words have been few in recent days. He’s allowed his emotions to smog over and darken; musky. Inner nimbus clouds of angst, unaccounted for, like covering an exhaust pipe with a solid object – these pores are ready to burst white, gooey, puss. White blood cells of ingrained, unspoken thoughts and ponderings that splatter and smudge the mirror.

Kate and I, we ignore him the best we can, sort of in the way one suffering from a wounded heart tries to ignore the fact that they suffer a great deal. We are stoic. We are warriors. We give off that impression, anyway. Sky – forget him, the moody artist who contradicts our thought patterns. Though forgetting him, we try to forget that we feel him oh so well. He knows what we feel though we can and cannot feel him – sort of like feeling in an unfeeling way.

He winks at me with an evening eye, then gazes longingly at Kate. I try not to let my heart give in to the pang of jealousy I feel at that moment. Two-timer, three-timer … how many-timer. He senses my feelings and responds with a rumble. Not now, Sky.
Let’s get going. Fuck the weather. Take that, Sky.

We start off, slow and sure, and – practically alone in this jungle at the center of this jungle-city. One mile down, 9 to go…boom boom boom, my heart bumps in my breast, oh…

The big sauna breeze sets in, not cooling us down but – blowing hot air around in the way like –sitting in an oven with a fan on. We get lost in our Serengeti of sweat; faces turn not red but pink – the blood coming up to kiss the surface of our cheeks. Kiss me again. Sky starts up a storm of guilty feelings and wrings out the crumpled tissue of tears that land in the trees and a rough flower hits me with the heavy breeze. I’m whacked on the head with a – leaf? It’s slimy, and Kate gets something, too. Sky, he doesn’t like to be defied.

Mile 2, and we’re on the move, certifiably the only ones in the course now, (certifiably insane? – have you ever run through a monsoon hurricane?) Plop! Plop! Ploploplop PLONK! Heavy bursts of feeling come down from Sky – now is the feeling time. What I didn’t feel from you before, I sure do now, in fact I’m drenched with your feeling, and so is Kate, and so is…

…splatters on the ground.

Let’s go let’s go, pick up the pace! Mile…3…I’ve never felt so alive, not since our last wild night (but at least then I didn’t have to share you with the world). This mad rush – running away from you – I am the rebel wearing a green camouflage hat that’s soaked with your tears.

The pavement we tread on, it’s – disappearing in the eggs you’ve cracked together, in your lame attempt to make an omelet from fear. We really should consider a prescription for these panic attacks of yours. In the meantime, however, we’ve been through boot camp; we know how to survive in the desert and we can crawl through a storm. But – crack! BOOM crack BOOM – you are quite the DJ, you – spin the table tonight.

I guess I didn’t realize that you could go for hours without tiring. You exhaust me, Sky. Emotionally, physically – putting me to the test. Kate and I, we both wear white t-shirts tonight. You did this on purpose. You can see through us but – oh, you dirty man! Sicko. We’re soaked to the bone – may as well be naked, swimming in your thoughts.

Squelchy shoes and wrinkly toes and dripping, gooey, we are. We place a stake in the saturated grass, a white flag on top, instantly wet. We give up. We surrender. For today. We seek shelter under a burrow at the guard’s hut. We powwow and gossip about nothing while our words about you are ever-present, hidden, but there.

Downtrodden, sodden, we hail a cab home. The taxi driver loves our wet-dog smell. In the tropics I am freezing under your silent spell. The air conditioning is left off while we eat our lentil soup in silence. Sort of like sitting by the heat of the fire while cozy in a cottage in the high mountains. You Twitter in the background and play Monopoly while I switch on Radiohead and block you out.

Goodnight, Sky. Get out of your monsoon mood already. It’s only the end of May and you are just starting – warning me early that you’ll be around to haunt me for the next 3 months.

You text me in the morning as I’m waking up. Sorry for lst nite.
Catch me tomorrow night, Sky. It’ll be another stoic faceoff in your turf.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I look at the boys – boys they are, younger than me [and I thought I was the child!]
They have, upon them, rifles, much bigger than their bodies, ready to fire, the fear consuming their thoughts like hungry flies. I walk past, embarrassed. No. I don’t care.

I look him in the eye. Eyes. The eyes tell me about his knowing and not-knowing at the same time. He must be like a baking potato in that suit; the cheese melting down the cracks in him; the black boots like a ball and chain to his baked potato outfit.
Does he even know why he’s there? {Do I?} I turn my head up at the hell of a sun that’s causing my brain to throb inside my hat. Everything just seems to melt together, including my self, my perceptions…

The afternoon fills up with raindrops of silence. Emptiness is when the bucket is full. Everyone is hiding out, enveloped in their respective cocoons, away from the chaotic splendor caused by a confusion of burning tires, choking rubbery smoke, a red hornet’s nest covered in zooming buzzing, flighty creatures, colliding with green and black flies. Lies. Lies that collide and cause political traffic jams, trafficking of puppets patrolled by puppet masters.

The city is on hold, the conventional financial center shut down. Shopping malls – areas of retreat – no longer blast megawatts of electricity. Shops are shut, mouths too. Fear lingers like inextinguishable birthday cake candles. Those who know dare not speak.

In my overheated stupor, I inch my way down the road of cooking cement. Even at this distance from the war zone, I pass threads of razor wire and images of flesh, red and infinite red dripping from beakers on the pavement, not evaporating but coagulating in gutters, the stench causing one to retch.

I am not hiding out. I share the afternoon heat with a fellow solitary nomad. We partake in the act of being lost in translation. We translate our confusion in the form of a guided meditation book. Living out – camping out – of our suitcase and backpack, we have no home to retreat to. Our home is in our hands. In our minds.

In this place where a life is relatively meaningless – what difference does it make who dies? Life can be lost at any and every moment and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if it’s gone.

Those who hide away – those who fight – me and my solitary nomad companion – each of us, our lives, will continue to the next once it’s lost here.

This is a battle that can’t be won. Fighting with this philosophy, nothing is destroyed, nothing is created. It – like the blood in the gutter – simply coagulates and emits a putrid stench.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting to know the forest temple

The air is stifling, the city so polluted. I stick my nose under my shirt – for what reason? The air there is the same as the lead-ridden air that inhabits the space that surrounds me. I can’t breathe, feel I’m suffocating. Sweat teems within me; my clothes cling to me, stickier than roll-on glue. Like that glue, I feel stuck. A roaring bus blazes past, its fumes inhabiting my lungs, my pores, every cell of me. I need to escape from here! My mind screams in desperation. I dodge motorbikes and street dogs and wearily make my way to anywhere that’s blasting air conditioning. I am a prisoner of air conditioning! My mind checks out. I try to breathe. Just breathe. I brusquely punch in the number to phone my Dhamma friend. I need an escape. To meditate. I call on the forest temple.

The following Saturday morning I meet with my Dhamma friend, who is accompanied by Maechee Noi (literally meaning “little nun” in Thai language) and the three of us, dressed in white clothes (as per temple regulations), drive to Watsunanthawanaram, a forest temple in the Thai province of Kanchanaburi, located about a 3 hour drive to the west of Bangkok. I’ve been here a few times before and I’ve dreamed of it much more.
Watsunanthawanaram is a forest temple whose abbot is the Venerable Phra Ajahn Mitsuo Gavesako, a senior monk and highly respected meditation teacher. Born in Japan, Venerable Ajahn Gavesako was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist Monk with the Venerable Ajahn Chah in 1976. The Venerable Ajahn Chah followed the tradition of the forest temple, which in turn, is followed today at Watsunanthawanaram.

Laypeople, Thai and foreigners alike, are welcome at the forest temple to practice meditation and to follow the strict yet simple lifestyle adopted by the monks and maechees living here. Their lifestyle is not an easy one; it defies the sense of ‘comfortable living’ (especially in Western terms) and involves wearing white or light-colored clothes (for visitors, or orange robes for monks), eating only once a day (in the morning) from the almsbowl, practicing meditation in solitude several times a day, and living in small huts scattered throughout the forest. This temple is found deeply imbedded in the forest in Kanchanaburi. At this faraway, foreign place, I feel accepted, not judged, for the first time. In fact, no one cares at all. Everyone is focused on their breathing, practicing the mindfulness of breathing meditation.

My first time here, I knew very little about what to expect. I simply followed my Dhamma friend who guided me through the basics of forest temple life. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, we “checked into” our individual huts (rooms just big enough for sleeping on the hard tile floor with mats and brick pillows provided), rinsed off in the austere showers (no hot water), and took a brief tour. The forest temple has enough huts to house at least 500 visitors at a time, perhaps with space for more in the future, and covers several hundred acres of land, with plenty of dirt trails to walk while practicing walking meditation.

This is what happens on my first visit to the temple: at around 6pm, hearing the sound of a recording in Thai on guided meditation, we head to the temple to begin our walking meditation. I’m hungry but what can I do? I count the hours until I can eat next – only 14 more to go until I can have a huge breakfast tomorrow morning. Sigh. My goal here is to focus on the present. I follow my Dhamma friend’s steps as barefoot we pad through the footpath surrounding the temple and I tell myself how many times to stop thinking; to focus solely on the act of walking and following my breath as the soles of my feet meet with patches of the path that have been in shadier or sunnier spots throughout the day. I am getting the hang of this.

8pm, the gong tolls! I love the sound of the gong. It is such an ancient bell, something so fairytale-like to me. I am so happy that gongs are still in use. It is time for chanting and a Dhamma talk. The book of chants, being in Thai, is left on the floor near my neighbor’s feet. We all sit on tiny mats on the wooden floor under the shelter of the temple. A large Buddha closes his eyes in focused meditation and sits in perfect form before me. I try to mimic his pose but so many factors – the heat, humidity, my sweat, thirst, legs that are falling asleep underneath me, are getting in the way. I get a cramp in my foot. Everyone is chanting in Pali and I sit in silence. I try to meditate to the sound of obscure and foreign words. I feel strangely awake inside. I am so uncomfortable that I can do nothing about it and I accept it for what it is: discomfort. A fleeting sensation.

I lose track of time, but I feel I am dreaming because I hear the English language being spoken. I can’t see who is speaking but he introduces himself as an American who has been ordained as a monk in this temple, and he’s been here a year now. He gives a Dhamma talk while a Thai monk translates to Thai. He says that meditation is like medicine for the mind: when we are sick, we go to the doctor to get medicine to heal our bodies. But in general, when our mind is sick we don’t take medicine for it. We know where to get the medicine (through meditation) but we don’t usually go to the place that offers the best medicine available. If we practice the mindfulness of the breathing meditation, we can help alleviate the sickness that dwells in our minds.
By the end of his talk, it’s about 9:30 pm and I am exhausted. All of us – monks, maechees, and laypeople alike, head off to rest until the morning gong tolls (2:30 am), announcing that meditation shall recommence. I retreat to my hut and lie down on the hard floor, my head stuck to the brick pillow. I feel as though I am camping in a humid oven. Sweat pours out of every pore. I can’t sleep because of the heat. I listen to the chirping geckoes climbing up the walls, chomping on mosquitoes which wish to buzz in my ears. The sound of the forest at night is terrifying and true. I count down the minutes until the gong shall toll, while I aim to focus on the breath. Somewhere near 2 am I fall asleep. The gong tolls. Meditation calls. Again.

Back to the temple where we started the night before, Pali chanting recommences, following another session initiated by the gong’s call at 4:30. My stomach is screaming at me. I shoo away its sound by drowning it in gulps of water. I somehow make it to 6:00 – feeling like a sheep following the guide of the others. But I am not a sheep. This is not a “sheep” thing to do. My body wants to lay flat with the floor, yet I am asked to join on a meditative walk through the forest. I accept this invitation without hesitation because – just because. I am fully awake and aware of what I am doing. This is what they call ‘mindfulness’. I understand it well.
The forest, the forest. The red dirt, the veiny hands of the banyan trees reaching out, scouring the soil, seeking the truth. I feel these trees. Our walk is slow; the maechees look down at their feet. They become the surroundings. 6:30. I don’t need to look at a watch. The sun follows its course. Some birds – I don’t know their names, make themselves known. This is the forest.

I splash my face with chilly water. There are no mirrors here but I know I look like I’ve been up all night. I have. I shower a cold, cold shower, my hands trembling with hunger. I’m dizzy. Gong, please toll! 8am. It’s time for the single meal of the day. A long line of laymen stands in queue for the buffet. The monks and maechees eat in a separate room, crouched over large bowls reminding me of old-fashioned washbasins. I get in line. The food here smells – and looks – great. Huge containers of red rice or white rice, soups, curries, stir fried vegetables, seafood dishes, meats, eggs…the list continues. My bowl fills fast. It’s hard not to mix the sweet with the salty. At this point, I hardly care. The monks believe that with food, it is not to be enjoyed. It is there to nourish the body, not to be a sensational attachment. I eat quickly, and sheepishly get a second helping. Coffee (instant) is available on an unlimited basis. I enjoy the fact that caffeine is allowed in the forest temple.

Sunday pans out in a similar manner to Saturday. Talking is permitted but little is spoken. Words exchanged involve lessons of the Dhamma teachings, in general. During the day, the hot hot day, the monks, maechees, and temple dwellers, soak up the forest. They sweep the temple, clean the floors, and carry out daily chores with full mindfulness and concentration. They meditate in solitude in their huts in the forest, or practice walking meditation along the many paths. They offer advice to those who seek it. In many ways, I could almost let go of my life in the city, forget about my dreams and far-off ambitions, and realize the truth of things as they are. Almost. I guess I am not brave enough to do so. In any case, this place becomes my mental retreat. I can come here anytime I want. It’s in my mind.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010


We are born into this life as prisoners.
This body we are trapped in – is a prison. We can’t escape it.

We cannot escape our needs
They are constant and – ceaseless

Yes – life is a prison
And we are the prisoners
Of our desires.


“Free as a bird” – there is no such thing.
Not even birds are free
They’re still tied here to earth
Held down by gravity.

Even the dead – they’re not free
They must wrestle with their past
And survive in the words exchanged in the air
Among the living.

Nothing in this life –
Is free.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


As with each creature of this world, you communicate with geckos in a unique manner. Start with simple thoughts like –

The feel of the wall. It is not up or down. It is not a feeling at all. It is an up and down thing.

Squirmy things like gecko tails. Twitching tails. Squeamy and squirmy.
Bugs. Air dwellers like me. Their flying capabilities. Minute pilots of their own ships.


Ninja-like, he is invisible. Like a perfect war machine of nature, he attacks on command.

Click! Click! Click! [pink tongue]

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

This is the war cry of the gecko world.


Bye bye little fruit fly.