Sketches From The Far East

They don’t know me here and I
am not familiar with them either
so far from the place called home
in a language I still cannot speak.

Not that it’s going to be easier
in this new country of mine, but
for a short while I guess I'll get by
as the Thai script does appeal to me.

Giant billboards along highways
monorails being built day and night
by the workers of the aptly named 
Italian-Thai construction company.

California Prep. Drug free campus,
4D Happiness ads on the airport link, 
a mysterious sign stating Hairism
next to the Victory Monument square.

Minivans speeding up, overtaking
pickups, tuk-tuks, old public buses
with their windows wide open stuck
at the red light in many a traffic jams.

Air-conditioning and leather seats
I travelled in style from Bangkok to
Pak Chong, the northeastern outpost 
where someone from home lives in.

The night bazaar makes the town
alive, its hundreds of stalls selling
finger food I’ve never seen before
save fried grasshoppers and jackfruit.

When I tried to cross the main road,
a traffic-packed Champs-Élysées 
dotted with vegetation and Thai flags,
it took me fifteen minutes to make it. 

This is the little Far East I know so far
for a sudden black-out limited somehow
my evening explorations out and about:
I’ll mingle with locals to see and be seen.   


Ulica Sprzeczna Pitch-Perfect

Up up, high on the wooden scaffolding
Three painters are looking down
Down at the volleyball match
Played by the local fire brigade men
Waiting for their next roll call.
There, by the creepy courtyard
The stench of bleach is overwhelming
A kid walks his dog in the ruins
Tall weed grass all around them
It’s early morning and the dice are cast.

Art. Art doesn’t belong to a place like this
Look how some vandals made a messy
Mess of a National Museum painting
Reproduced in full colours on a wall
By the muddy lot under the Wulkanizacja sign.
The sound of heels clicking across the alley
For a heartbeat the players on the pitch 
Don't care about their ongoing set point
A smash is left mid-air, the net deflects it
The firehouse bell breaks up the onlookers' bliss.


Most Syreny

I was fifteen years old when they told me
boy, you’re gone:
The Holy Cross will give you rest, at last.
Say farewell to the days to the nights you spent
here and there on both sides of the riverbank
playing tricks to the passersby, eye to eye
with those who came and those who left town.
I was born in July nineteen eighty-five,
but I felt awkward for the times I grew up in
estranged from my older siblings, alone
clumsy and goofy wearing out of date clothes.
When they put me to sleep it was autumn
and yet I'm still alive.

A Tale of Two Bridges


Pots of Gold

They dug them out on a night like this.

Everybody knew it, but no one told me
or if they did I wasn’t there to hear.
It must have weighed a ton to lift that;
there were cranes involved and levers
all those mechanical wonders used
by crews of treasure hunters worldwide
when chasing the last of the leprechauns.
They left two pits in the famous square
there where it once started and there
where it once ended before the gold
was unearthed and sold to an unknown
bidder. As far as possible from their eyes,
some stones and souls - its magic bygone.

The time I spent there is now invaluable.


North Praga Pets

The Varsovian Yorkshire
is a glocal species that
dwells on the eastern bank
of a wide wide river.
This peculiar if diminutive pet
could easily be spotted
up and down the Praga district;
it likes laps, curbs, parks, flats,
and furthermore it does fit
in the tiniest of lifts.