marcel barang

Taking a poetry break

In Uncategorized on 08/11/2010 at 9:18 pm

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Correcting over the weekend the first seventy thousand words of the proofs of Chiens fous (พันธุ์หมาบ้า) and then risking death by drowning in a sea of xhtml codes while the house is being repaired by worm-eating early birds with no respect for us owls called for a bit of a break to retain my sanity.
So what better than making good on my promise to dash out an alternative translation of the Thai poems featured in Truth Globalize(d) [see previous posting], starting with Ungkarn Chantatip’s, in whose debt I believe I still am.

A displaced person’s conversation – Ungkarn Chantatip

1
The orange fish, he’s been told, is called Nemo
The weird, big-eyed cat, Doraemon
The crocodile, floating-log-like, waiting to be shouldered around
The little monkey, the tea-leaf-eating worms
All there – chicks, birds, mice, crabs, fish
Clear-eyed Kero frogs – all for sale
Funny some of them creatures
Once sought for food in the fields
The peddler who shouldered paddy sheaves
On a sharp pole along dykes became displaced
A rice farmer turned uneasy seller
Concrete and ground unfamiliar
Hot or cold, seasons feel the same
Exchanging penury for bashfulness
In the fields food there was, but no money
Roaming, confronting, feelings frozen
Same true hardship but different place
What is there that money can’t buy
Lack of it was what prompted leaving
Home at a cost just about worth it
At least the children go to school
Cell phones, school fees ganging up in short order
Wife, children spending left and right
When their voices will break they’ll be asking for ’bikes

The orange fish called Nemo sells well
The weird big-eyed cat – which will you choose
For the car, for the kids, for the house
To give a sweetheart or whoever you wish
Kero the clear-eyed frog doesn’t cost much
But is cute, nice colour too, please support
Whatever little profit will become capital
To renew the stock

2
On days of cold sky pavements become field dykes
What’s pole-shouldered are sheaves of garish yellow
A gust of cold wind – the farmer’s son
Estranged from home comes to a halt looking at
The orange fish in his hand called Nemo
The weird big-eyed cat with sad glints in his eyes
Glum thoughts while waiting for the haggling
Sadness spreading over both eyes
In that gust – the spread of city buildings in splendorous sunlight
Turns into golden fields all over those very eyes

  1. So now we can read it and savour it.

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