Portrait of Bangkok Noir Poet John Gartland by Chris Coles
Anyone looking for a respite from the lock down city of Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand for that matter, might want to consider the relative tranquility of Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 31st and June 1, 2014 respectively. On those dates poet noir, John Gartland will be reciting his original poetry. On May 31st he will be part of a lineup that will include the man in black, Christopher Minko and his Khmer vocalists in Krom. John, Christopher and Krom have all been featured here at Thailand Footprint. Perform a simple search to learn more about them if you are not already aware. On June 1, 2014 John and Christopher will both be performing at the renown Meta House in Phnom Penh. Check them out if you are within a 90 mile radius.
John has allowed me to share some of his original poetry here again. Chris Coles has also, once again, permitted his art to be shown here as well. Enjoy the art and poetry wherever they may find you:
THE GENERAL in the Bangkok Night by Chris Coles
The Eye: 1
Man, I’m an ex-Private Eye, I can strike a cool pose
while listening to others’ production-line prose,
self-published wunderkinds who believe their own hype,
burned-out actors on valium bogarting the mike,
tales of drug-hauls and bar girls and crooked police,
and hard-drinking dicks who’ve adopted the east.
Look! I‘m old-school detective, I’ve seen the whole bag,
Spillane-heads, in trenchcoats, Dash Hammett in drag.
Just a crime-writers’ gig, at the Mambo hotel,
but outside it’s for real, and they’re guilty as hell.
THE EYE : 2
It ‘s a crime-writers’ gig, at the Mambo hotel,
where whorehounds had partied for fifty odd years.
But life, like a crime scene’s not all it appears;
the old cathouse is cabaret, now; it’s a fact,
and, under new management, the riskiest act,
would be squeezing the original mama san’s hand,
which once, like the anthem, could make a room stand,
and left a broad smile on the girls in the band,
at the Mambo Hotel.
Two floors of short-time ghosts,
a locked up beauty shop, and dust;
now pulp-writers rap about crime here,
and must shoot the fictional breeze on stage.
But, as the Eye on the case, I’ll cut to the chase,
the major heist is on the street,
and there’s fresh blood on the page.
THE EYE: 3
Bent judges and psychopaths, hustlers and has-beens,
professional liars, Bangkok is a crime scene.
Hey, I was an Eye, wrestled crime for a living,
and still have a hunch for who’s making a killing.
The patriots and flag sniffers, feeling the force,
play patsy for billionaires, hit men, and punks,
they’ve closed down the city and cheered themselves hoarse,
till the tourists and hookers are packing their trunks.
Man, the hacks know the issue, but no one dares say;
destabilization is sent from upstairs,
since they can’t get joe public to vote the right way.
More generals than doormen, tear-gas everywhere,
there’s gold braid enough here to carpet a whorehouse,
gridlock on the streets, and a coup in the air.
Look, I’m just an Eye, with an odd tale to tell,
at a pulp writers’ gig at the Mambo Hotel.
But, outside? It’s for real, pal.
They’re guilty as hell.
You’d better believe it, they’re guilty as hell.
We have your co-ordinates, and know precisely your destination.
It is election time, and in the street of the plastic surgeons,
posters of men in white uniforms and fixed grins flap in unison.
This is a one way street, and a u-turn invokes serious penalties.
Traffic proceeds at breakneck speed through the great arch of autocracy.
By the pantheon of patriarchs, diseased birds slumber on the frozen plumes
of bronze headgear, mildew eating at ceremonial swords. Stay in lane.
The great highway of charlatans is multi-lane, crowded at all hours
and will bring you invariably to hypocrisy monument, where all roads meet.
One way. Vendors swarm with incense sticks, crystal meth and dreams,
gold leaf to flatter a glowering idol at the revered corner of errors;
a bottleneck, as many pilgrims buy merit from the four faced god here;
dead slow as beggars kneel in the road, abandoned to divine protection.
Proceed by the grand plaza of pointless purchases, and slow down for
heavy traffic at narcissus mall, street of six names for your inferior.
You must pass through the groveling gate, temple of the abject loop;
this is street of six titles for your superior, leading to the institute
of impregnable ignorance, graced with a royal charter. Take a right
on the grand drive of distracting flags, to the causeway of embalmed kings.
Go forward to the mall of the eternal flame. At karaoke heaven,
superlative banality may cause your ears to bleed. Accelerate away.
Proceed. Traffic circles perpetually round the academy of harlots;
whores, constantly renewed, wind silk around the sacred trees,
disrobe, and leave a mekong to appease priapic spirits.
You must drive through the emporium of envy and unsatisfied desires,
bypass the chaotic terminus of transsexuals for denial drive,
speed on past Guess Wat buddhist theme park, en route for meth mall,
where it is always rush hour, and the men at Jamaica corner sell oblivion
in small packs to foreigners, who are ransomed by the tourist police.
Near the fountain of corrupted thought, pass beggar children
fishing for coins and fever in the catfish dark of drains:
at last you are near your destination, on a street of fortune tellers.
Here, gamblers with their cards and severed fingers,
taking pains to keep their face white and uncompromised,
play endlessly, and disregard their loss.
Your tinted windows let you pass unrecognized.
This dusty cul-de-sac is yours. Abandoned
lottery tickets blow across the nameless street,
and withered wreathes are strewn
about some broken idol’s feet. It is election time.
New posters of the white and smiling uniforms
wallpaper every space. This final cul-de-sac is yours;
self-hatred and the breath of street dogs, foul upon your face.
For more information about the poems and performance schedule of poet John Gartland go to http://www.johngartland.net or click picture, above.
This blog post may also be viewed at Chiang Mai City News by clicking the banner, above: