Bangkok De Profundis.
In a time of rising waters,
He has cried to thee oh Lord.
It was becoming hard to bear,
waking up each morning as a cockroach.
His junkie girlfriend stole the laptop,
the phone kept ringing at odd hours,
and insomniacs haunted him,
invading his rooms to smoke Old Delirium
in strange contraptions, fashioned
from detergent bottles and glass tubing.
False prophets network,
scares and admonitions,
“Seek shelter from the coming flood”
for markets fall, and pundits pall
like necromancers shocked by futures,
awed at stocks’ exposed positions.
More flashbacks of those corpses wrapped
in blood-stained sheets where Hades meets Suwintawong highway,
and demons dressed as strutting cops
play out satanic games with car wrecks
and six lanes of hurtling pick-ups,
loaded with the damned.
Nothing stops, apart from hoping,
in that darkness;
hoping, and the grand design of God.
Years of debris; a throwaway world
is gagging his high watermark.
The residue of empires, dismembered ideologies,
severed heads in doggie bags,
girls stoned to death by dumper truck
where high tech. serves Islamic rigour;
and women’s bodies, feared
and lashed with equal vigour,
float the septic tide to state,
that, rotting, raped and subjugate,
masked, or beauty acid-scarred,
this jealous hate redeems some family’s honour
and the keeping of a slave.
“Seek shelter from the coming flood!”.
More warnings from the networks
of disaster in plain sight.
Infected by the future
and recoiling from the light,
from the morning watch,
to subliminal night, Lord,
he channel-hops the ads. and lies,
awaits the blind inexorable wave.
Let thine ears be attentive
to the voice of his supplication.
Please take his urgent call oh Lord,
extend to him religion's consolation.
Icons of old wizard monks,
expensive relics in a locket,
the sacred, decorated trunks of
twisted, bent, revered old trees,
an idol, or a totem,
or the fetish of of a prophet,
an amulet of Vishnu,
or a string of merit-making beads
to finger in a pocket.
A road map of the Tree of Life,
a prayer mat, sacrificial knife,
a sacred stone they venerate,
a holy spring where they prostrate,
and, chanting loudly, flagellate;
some mutilation rituals they find,
somehow express their
tortured, ingrown toenail of a mind.
To these they bow, by these they wait,
for heaven’s ultimate blind date;
hypnosis by a holy book,
subservience to a priestly look.
Yea Lord, he drinks a bitter cup,
deliverance eludes him yet.
The creator, playing hard to get,
has, once more, frankly, stood him up.
Manipulation, thought correction,
Digesting God's indifference,
in times of rising waters,
a Minoan maze of lies.
The sacred books, the king, the host,
those feet at which men grovel most;
the bloodstained flag, the Holy Ghost,
the biggest fairy tales require
most pious genuflection,
and these the thinking cockroach
will contemptuously despise.
are texting, seeking parts again.
Awake within the whispering walls,
illumination swirls and falls
to fractals in a pipe bulb,
when, aware God’s not returning calls,
or dealing absolution,
he crawls out of the depths, not least
to shun the poisonous fix of priests,
and charter his own flight to dissolution.
For, Lord, he’s turned his back upon
some name we may not utter
without slavish self-abasement,
the mediaeval violence policing laws of love;
a million milling zealots
trampling by their sacred monolith;
psychosis aping saintliness,
when push comes to fanatic shove.
And the globalised multiplex; virtual reality,
brand slaves on Prozac grazing the mall.
Where history simply is discarded fashion,
junk’s TV, rap culture, and soundbite celebrities,
mainlining cage fights, an armchair in hell.
In a time of rising waters,
He has cried to thee, oh Lord.
Last call for oblivion, welcome aboard.
Let thine ears be attentive... attentive oh Lord!
Last call for oblivion, we’ve darkness on board.
THE THIRD BOOK OF INUNDATIONS
At such a perfect moment, Death will come
and take me to the water. Still, I hear
his stripped-down opening drum.
At such a perfect moment…
Of course, you wouldn’t KNOW
you’re nuts, IF you WERE nuts.
They’re wailing at the hour of prayer.
Deejay Nemesis plays Old Wave,
with a bad rep,
hot licks from the dark side,
microwaves in lockstep.
No question, man; I’m fried.
I may need to take this further,
with a witch-doctor or shrink,
but, the River and the Abyss;
always closer than you think:
“And what if your clear sanity’s their Crazy?”
This aphorism I extracted from a Christmas cracker,
Then another, more intriguing,
“Hold the River, and the Abyss,
closer to you, always”.
Nobody laughed at my aphorism.
People fiddled with their party hats,
so I repeated it
“Hold the River, and the Abyss, closer to you, always”.
Squeezed it out, like Ahmed, in a passion,
comforting his favourite camel
Ejaculated it again.
A lot of people left the party,
It was like the end of Christmas, in the West.
More fun than an exploding vest.
“Yes! How the cracker’s holy verses
Have dogged me, Moriarty!”
Sometimes I step into other scripts,
But, doesn’t everybody?
“You want to spread your
Prayer-mat mind for me?”
I said it again,
“You want to pull the holy cracker,
share these verses with me?”
And licked my open mouth;
No stopping it, then. The entire building
was evacuated by the government,
directly into the President’s face.
The whole, rotten, poxy, scat-trip, daily-life-load,
harlot politicians, with their asses up for big oil,
mutilated children, auto-destructive muslims,
slaves and stonings, bombings and beheadings on TV,
sharia shit, and PC lube, a rectal cocktail from the cosmic tube,
royally blown, and voided in the Chief’s visage.
Comparisons will fail to match the charnel reek
of this vast oil slick of GM demon seed,
enough to give a skunk a hard-on for a week!
Like I said, everybody drowns.
How good a fucking gig is that?
The Capital is inundated,
and channels of communication
gagged over a large area.
And even the head-hangman
is choked with a real big one,
and the drones are down.
And phones, and everyone
else in town, are dead,
FINITO! And welcome;
your card got swiped,
the truth is halal overnight,
and all your deepest fears;
No jury but fuckwit mullahs,
and no other judge but Dread.
Hey, only joking! Why so serious?
I can’t stand-up any longer.
Time has surely come, to pause,
to ask you, for a hand-job…….
You know, …… I mean, ……. your applause.
THE INSTITUTE OF MOCKERY
1 / The Flag Raising
Students stand in line at the flag raising.
The chosen, handle its folded cloth, much
as a priest reveres the Shroud.
“Today, class, as we raise the flag”…..
Whores and hitmen, billionaires and feudalists,
extortion, oppression, ignorance, and worse.
Religious shams, and corporate scams and cover-ups
ubiquitous corruption, rape, and slavery,
each government as a smash and grab
job, inflicted on the public purse.
“Today, class, we unfurl the flag”….
cue martial music, and the staff’s respectful silence.
Hope’s buried in ten thousand secret places,
today, as we salute the flag.
The students soak it in, with vacant faces.
2/ To the Escapees from the Flag-Raising.
Don’t run this way, fugitives.
Poetry’s just the grappling
of language and confusion,
poetry’s just a groping for the light,
Sometimes it’s an act of love,
and sometimes absolution,
always, it’s a state of exile,
often it’s a fight.
Don’t run this way, fugitives.
3/ Lost at Loco’s
I heard him laugh,
“Don’t talk value to me, you nut.
Where else on the planet can you
buy an iced beer and a joint
For less than five, U.S..?
Second round, you’re already trashed, then
looking out of this big window, and above the mess… “
Ramshackle carts and taxis thread the shabby condos and shacks along a narrow soi, straggling to the dusty temple, all lining a poisonous canal. Motor cycle taxis, occasional asian beauties negotiate the speed bumps,
and a motorized noodle vendor in a black tee shirt, marked End Game, skirts expertly round wheezing joggers and two boys on weaving tricycles. A woman in a four by four, letting her motor run,
doesn’t bat an eye, as a pickup with thirty men, standing, packed solidly as brooms on that brush vendor’s cart, sweeps by.
And all the time, the deals are done.
Sudden wailings from some mosque…
“It’s a fucking madhouse out there. Between me and you,I mean, seriously ….”
Two cops, bulging from a motorcycle, scouting for some shakedown they can try, cruise through.
Security man across the street in Mao suit and a golf cap, casts his gimlet gaze our way, leans on the sliding gate to a forbidden land,
tubular steel, chest height, tubular steel, in red and white….
Suddenly, it is hours later, and dark.
“We’re lodged between the cracks of tyranny”, he smiles,
….and doomed to lose. Personally,
I would choose to franchise Loco’s,
as an antidote to fear and loathing”.
The street outside of Loco’s now is quiet for the night
Tubular steel, chest height, tubular steel, in red and white.
It is six hours to flag-raising.
John Gartland is one of Bangkok’s more interesting expatriates. Born in Northern England, he graduated with honors in English from Newcastle University, and has a Master’s degree in Elizabethan and Shakespearian Drama. He spent time in the United States, worked in the government sector, in sales, in the telecommunications business, as a rock n’ roll writer-producer, and as college lecturer and professor in four countries. He’s travelled a lot. He recently returned to Bangkok after stints as visiting professor of English Writing at the Korea National University of Education, and as lecturer in English and Communications, in Oman. John thrives on live performance; at venues such as Night of Noir III, in Bangkok, and, with the noted band, Krom, at Meta House in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He reads at regular gigs in Bangkok. Also a published novelist, John has had two poetry collections published, “Gravity’s Fool” and “Poetry Without Frontiers”, the latter, with Irish poet and prominent Gaelic scholar, Tom Hodgins.