Six Poems

Brad Comann

Buddhas

Polyethlyene catches on parts
of bodies tooled out of pink sandstone, and carts
trundle the head-pieces off, to be eyed
in a nearby shop, centuries of heads pried,
cracked from torsos leaving bent knees
behind, smooth as abalone,
leaving thin robes folded back revealing
one of the shoulders or a wheel
etched In those meditating hands--Law
of Cause and Effect now a flawed
symmetry between walls of brick
and mortar--those fingers like thick
branches too commonplace
for collectors who want instead the faces
chipped from prangs expensive beyond belief
although undecorated with squares of gold leaf
attention saved for the bronze images
that survived Burmese troops and the aging
sunlight: only one of Him sits in the former temple
where a monk trims a votive candle
and the One looks immovable, eyelids on the verge
of closing on us who surge
by the altarpieced fast as the slowest walk,
the visitors afterward
in the silence of those eyes perceiving
our rib cage, our solar plexus, our breathing
or does He look for the heat's thought?
while in the shade of rotting
trees a few of the world's teenagers hang
around in dark bluetic hair, languish
in Jim Morrison T-shirts, their hands busy, veins
and fingernails glowing like copper insanely
hovering over a Game Boy
the size of an ancient tablet, with others enjoying
a glance at war comics, at their first porn,
as we might have done in Fu Manchu's braids, in worn
out Levis although it's their day
now, to want something else, to say
Why not this?

using American words for their spleen and penis

Lyric: Udon Thani

Next to a cinderblock
wall crowned with green
and white glass
a baby girl is naked
below her tanktop
a 50 printed on the front

She floats on toes
across a powdery soil,
hands cradling her plastic
bottle, lips tugging
on the formula

What train?
What Thai mathematician
has a window seat
and gazes at the footpath's
baby's butt? or thinks
on the next step in a theorem?

Station bells chime all-clear
Godling, running to a crawl

Show of Teeth: Indonesia

Follow the signs when the road cuts
left. Women's voices will start pleading
with you, Monkey love peanut.

Given in, at a kiosk in the shade, near
the stone gate to Monkey forest,
gate to mythical monkey, tongues and ears

covered with dry moss. Inside the forest
they have no love of trees; each sits
by a trail waiting for you, resting.

You clutch that purchased bag
of nuts, doling them out like chocolates
although the monkeys look as if they'd gag

on one more bite, often dropping them--one
at a time to the already littered ground
then start to eat each other's lice, or run

at you, hissing to make you jumpy, a finger
poking in your direction, to some purpose.
Their show of teeth a kind of laughter.

Sex Trade

Hours to the Northeast a Thai weaver sings
of the living past
lilting as she works that ancient silk loom

her legs dancing along to the shuttle
until a tourist stops at her door
thinking it's part of the mock village

She weaves along but to him it would
be nice if she'd sing on top of him
but apparently not

and he returns to his rental car a four-door
to find another
goddess under twenty no condom

before he flies home to San Diego
and the dead present Have a good one
weaver

Thai Barbie Doll
by Mattel


Penang, Malaysia

1.

A Chinese courtyard
necks of plumwine bottles top
the cement walls--watch

how kites keep to the sky
lengths of twine knotted together.

2.

Down a sidestreet, on a shortcut I took,
a row of pigs pranced, they flew. O the heights!

I saw no rack of huge steel hooks,
no butcher hosing off the steps to his shop.

That night alseep on a train, in a top
berth, the pigs had grown: heels and pink tights.

Marginalia in a Guidebook

"The danger of the road is not in the distance,
ten yards is far enough to break a wheel."
                            --  Meng Chiao

When your five senses cower,
obey your guide--the mind's
one fear a fear of mindlessness.
Muslims pray to a loudspeaker.

No duty free. This restaurant
has moved to Jalan Lawa.
Guesthouses, losmen, hotels
all reasonable: try The Majestic

or U Thong. Buddhists meditate
to the green smell of incense.
You are a foreign body entering
the blood stream! "Caning

or Death for Anyone with Drugs."
The bemo and bus stations
open late, close early.
The Christians swear to God.

 

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Contents copyright © 1998 by Brad Comann.

Format copyright © 1998 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087, Volume 2, Number 1, Fall 1998.