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6 am.

behind cloud curtain a pale sun

rises from her nightly rest

her form more guessed than glimpsed


city of ambivalence discrepancy and sprawl


from our rooftop vegetable garden

tomatoes crane, leeks and cabbages eye

the scene over huddled slatted roofs to where

a two hundred foot golden Buddha stands

surveying blank faced and calm the unfolding

turmoil of the teeming daily bustle


now spilling from doors to pavements

sandals scuffing, shirts already clinging to damp backs

this crowded ant heap palace of squalor and glitter

that millions call their home


across the narrow alleyway that creeps between

our hotel courtyard and a low-topped school building

four grannies are preparing pavement breakfast,

woks bubble fried things too multitudinously strange

to decipher, they lay out mounds of battered rings,

fishy, chickened, green leaved stalks and sweet rice

pudding the Thai children love to suck fingers on and

carry off in see-through bags to eat at break


this scene repeated in ten thousand locations along

streets filling with morning traffic, all Bangkok

buzzing by under ubiquitous photographs of the King


downstairs, two massage ladies are already pummeling

their clients while beside the boat-bus station alongside

the canal, tuktuks cough and beckon waiting to transport

testosterone filled tourists in mixed language, gesture

and currency to fishbowled parlors where smiling bevies

wait to be chosen for their soapy touch and hour-long

happy ends


the import of pornography is punishable by imprisonment,

a customs form advises at the airport and here in this

capital of gastronomical and sexual delight, death sentences

await the miscreants whose baggage contains forbidden drugs

city of ambivalence discrepancy and sprawl


today we will walk down kings way, visit a temple,

photograph the gold, the elephants, stand beside rows

of shining statues, emperors and Buddhas, spend a baht

on yet another bottled water, nibble another slice of pineapple



city of low hard beds, ambivalence and sprawl, goodnight

we won’t visit another disco or eat another pad thai

and sticky rice,  tomorrow we fly out,

we won’t forget you, we won’t be back

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© Johnmichael Simon



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