Stillness

The air's warm thickness
Always catches me by surprise - 
An enveloping tropical blanket 
That I breathe in and feel settling,
As I lace up running shoes 
To the sweep of a broom 
Outside my gate

I’m coaxed up off the perch of my
Front door step 
By the prospect of adventure -
In autopilot I saunter up the driveway,
My muscles purring at the 
Inevitability of the kilometres ahead

Dawn is still an hour away -
The overwhelming morning rays
That slow-cook the city
Will follow soon after,
Baking the uneven pavements
And simmering between layers of long-sleeved
Crowds, astride their spluttering scooters,
As they inch forward in morning traffic,
Past sugar cane juice vendors and the 
Waft of street-food

Until the chaos and jostle of life here unfolds
I have these streets to myself -
With each new stride the pulse of blood and adrenalin 
Propel me, 
Numbing the aches and pains that
Escorted my lumbering frame down the stairs
Moments earlier

Allowing a freedom of feeling,  
An openness and calm,
Anchors the rest of me in a
Temporary vacuum,
Sealed off from the humdrum of the day ahead - 
Egos and speculations,
Emails and negotiations – 
A freedom of feeling connected to oneself

Threading through the darkly lit hems and alleyways -
An urban avatar of sorts -
I choose my path,
Control my outcomes, 
Primordial, raging instincts pull me faster forward until 
The stillness is complete

Exhausted and gasping, 
I stare at the giant orange orb 
Cresting over Saigon bridge.

This Morning’s Dawn

dawn2

This morning’s dawn on our bed-sheet
Glows as it did yesterday.
Summoning into consciousness
A mundane familiar –
Jumbled thoughts,
Whispered finger-tipped
Touches, stretched out limbs.
Nothing here lies
In deference to a higher code,
Nor to a haunting pandemonium.

Through our window yellow sunbeams taunt
And pierce translucent bowing fronds,
Blinking time into place.
In steeped Earl Grey,
A soothing balm – a Blessed relief! –
Nothing here pretends
Any difference need unfold,
Nor mask that which matters most
In each wondrous, sentimental stroke
Of this morning’s dawn.

The Commute

bkk
Bangkok skyline

The Commute

A young girl stands weeping,
Waiting in line to board the plane.
Behind her a family of four
Shuffle forward their assortment of
Bags and purchases.
Teenagers splayed out on the floor,
Entangled phone chargers and
Preoccupied chatter.
Tannoy announcements ripple in the distance,
White noise to all.

Outside, convoys of suitcases
Zig-zag across the concrete apron –
The sky painted grey and about to strike.
This motley queue of human cattle
Inches forward,
Marking territory, clenching fists.
Talk of putting “a man on Mars” seems over-stretched,
As the minutes tick by and I wonder why
Putting one hundred people
On an airplane appears so much of a test.

We are airborne as my eyes open
And wince through the glare of the clouds,
Broken up and disappearing.
Many thousands of feet below and Monday morning
Crankily tilts on its axis.
The ennui of emails, the promise of lunch.
As tail winds pick up, the urban fringes of Saigon blur,
Our metallic tube arcs over Cambodian borders,
Paddy-fields and water buffalo,
Agrarian pastures – a daily grind of different stock.

Through glimpses of rubber smoke we land,
Suvarnabhumi airport, again.
Ten years of touching down here,
Too familiar a pilgrimage,
On auto-pilot
My toes twitch as I wait once more.
The young girl has long stopped her tears and stands nearby,
Nodding politely at the customs official –
Breathing in new beginnings,
Or the tingle of something left behind?

Thai Green*

bkk

Beneath snaking concrete viaduct, baking heat
Cooks sunburnt pores, street vending nooks,
Pungent fried sizzles punch lung deep, an urban Kingdom
Jostling air, space, and conditioned lifestyles.

Bangkok.

Spiced iced tea, rice soup, lychee cocktails,
Mesmerizing Soi-mazed corners
Inhale city sewer flavours,
Pavement tiles uneven, tilting, roasting.

Curbside, rainbow taxi ranks flank
Juice bar pit stops, bamboo bar tops,
High rise scrapers, elevators, shopping centres –
Eastern promise meets Western dream.

And still.

Not far flung from this urban jungle,
Nestled north, enveloped forest,
Lies a calmer version –
Country living –
Breathing, feeling,
Fibrous woodland,
Smoke-filled thatch.

Chiang Mai.

Opening up green borders,
Boundaries,
Walk amongst your past-time inclines,
Sun bleached hills and warbled song birds that
Listen back.

Stop here, stop now and let this touch you –
Nature’s glorious paradigm,
Working.

chiangmai

*A poem inspired by a damn fine Saturday morning, and several elephants