A Poem for Thailand

I especially love Thailand in the morning.
I say ‘Thailand’ at the risk of sounding reductive. This is about ‘my’ Thailand, the one I have seen, heard, smelt, felt, grown to love.
This poem came to me over the course of a few mornings, cycling through sleepy Thai villages as they yawn and wake to the day.


Oh Thailand
with your long-billed herons
stand, balance, stock-still
in the wake of the morning –
walk like an Egyptian

with your
squatting women
clean silver water basins
engravings twisted like molten hair

with your truck loads of
Burmese and Laotian workers
colorful socks over their faces –
they zip up their moths
and I hope it is just for the Sun

Oh Thailand
with your
cheeky children dressed
as if ready for some Army brigade
hanging from their handle bars

with your
plump sprouts
who dangle from the seat of Daddy’s motorbike

with your
monks who carry
hand-rolled cigarettes
and sling-shots to scatter
the birds

with your
boldly-painted houses
perched squat
pink roof
brick stamped on
electric blue
orange walls
purple trim
all with the grace of
tin-can wind chimes

with your colored wars and
tattered flags

with your porches
too many bird cages

Why so many bird cages?
Whose song are you catching, Thailand?
What is the tune of your earthen pulse?

I hear your song, I hum along


2 thoughts on “A Poem for Thailand

  1. Andrew Johnson says:

    And here’s a Northern Thai song for you all, translated from memory (so it might not be 100% accurate). It’s Miss Motorcycle, by Charan Manopetch.

    I’m a poor man, coming along on my bicycle
    Coming to flirt with a beautiful girl
    When I get there I’ll ask her
    When I get there I’ll ask her
    If she wants to get dinner [with me]

    She heard that, and then she slams the door shut, PAP!
    So I have to pull my bike out of the way
    I’m a poor man, without any luck!
    I’m a poor man, without any luck!
    How could I ride a Yamaha

    Just then along comes a Yamaha 125
    Riding along in front [of the house]
    She hears it, then rushes out
    She hears it, then rushes out
    And comes out to the gate [and asks]

    “Where you goin’ Mr. Motorcycle?”

    I heard that, and wasn’t sad, but
    I’m going to buy a Kawasaki
    When I pass, I’m going to rev the engine
    When I pass, I’m going to rev the engine
    So she can choke on the fumes and die, Miss Motorcycle

    Here is the karaoke video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V8NPB14XGk

  2. Andrew Johnson says:

    Incidentally, if you all want to see live Thai country, you should hit up Uang Pheung (no Roman sign, I think) on the Canal Rd in Chiang Mai.


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