bones

26/06/2011
warrior forever ©papa osmubal

warrior forever ©papa osmubal


bones

adam aitken

                   Of what will they dream?
                   Which song they will remember? What name 
                   will they want to name – the bones – in their darkness?  
                   — Mario Lecon

The way– ideally– memory might work:
a glass case or a neat perspex tower
of smashed skulls and thighbones.
Sampler of jumbled DNA from which
almost everyone– including your driver–
is descended.
Each and every piece a story.
When to come away from it,
how to photograph it, how long
to stay there and stare
as one would a dust-sculpture;
how to make it mean
this ink-blood-archive
re-read by facsimile in America,
in Canberra, 30 thousand
this-is-your-life “confessions”.
Recantations stacked up
pages end on end, sandwiched
with enough truth to lubricate
the killing machine no theorist
at central committee
could calibrate to perfection.
Truth without conclusion,
the most painful of all endings delayed
by the endless plot.
To know your life
“was not worth a bullet”.
Story within stories in
A Thousand and One Nights.
To think, yes, how there is
an endpoint to it all, and a single sound
might hold it – “ahh” perhaps, or
a dog’s minute-by-minute whimper.
“Justice” you said, then re-canted.
a technical hitch, foreign
and therefore suspect
like the assertion
someone, some one must be responsible –
from
R. M. Nixon to H.R.H. Sihanouk to
General Lon Nol
to the sun baked farmer’s son
who was handy with
a sharp end of a shovel,
your neighbour, your colleague the accountant
across the corridor
doing the company’s credit/debit sheet–

the guy with all the stories, the one who said,
“Yep, I remember clear as day.
Sir, it was me, I did my little bit, I was
a good worker, just
protecting my country.”


siem reap wawn*

26/06/2011
fish ©papa osmubal

fish ©papa osmubal


siem reap wawn
*
adam aitken

Traffic noise – there isn’t much
the road’s a washed out laterite
and the smell is fish – the drying kind.
Nothing spinning
but the moto driver’s hungover head.
Light breaks through – clean white clouds
and the girls are busy sweeping.
The foreigners French and nervous
as children and sparrows peck at monuments.

TV going on and off
in a country whose past
outrates its future.
I sip beer with the Russians
the rodents have all been eaten.
And Buddha, hung with fairy lights
visibly delighted
withdraws some cash from an ATM.


* This is a reworking of Michelle Cahill’s ‘Bangkok Dawn’. (–Adam Aitken)


dukka*

26/06/2011
your shadow testifies ©papa osmubal

your shadow testifies ©papa osmubal


dukka*

adam aitken

It came as a surprise, most of all to me,
to have come this close
to some mad gangster’s idea
of a ritual sacrifice.
All hot breath, blood, a scratch
that might separate forever
my mind from my throat.
Not what I expected
and once I was gone
what man left would defend
my bones from a scavenging pariah?

Put all this down
to my excessive love
of champagne, steak, ghazals, hashish –
in this life I walked through
like a Prince of arcades,
blindly unafraid
through the streets –
not life previous

which was even more
stunningly decked out
in luxury without end,
paid for,
debt free –
or so I had thought.


* This is a reworking of Michelle Cahill’s poem ‘Bangkok Dawn‘. (– Adam Aitken)


top thousand most common words and phrases

26/06/2011
cans ©papa osmubal

cans ©papa osmubal


top thousand most common words and phrases

adam aitken

How much does it cost?
or
I’d like to give this to you

It took no time at all to learn what I needed
and years to realise what I’d learned
was what I didn’t need.

What’s more important:
the classifier of clouds
or the clouds, the scrap collector
or the scrap?

Like your poem, Jane, about words
a list of no use to anyone doing business:

delicate, wrist, telescope
relic, telepathy

reliable and narcotic I’d keep.

So too reap, harvest and yield
for any agricultural economy.

As there is
for long things, round things,
flat things, and even
things made out of glass

as yet no classifier
for things
no-one wants,
or
for the collector:

the bottles a boy sorts
more valuable than the boy.


the war never ends

26/06/2011
asian ©papa osmubal

asian ©papa osmubal


the war never ends

adam aitken

A woman sheltering under a rattan mat
in a storm of Hueys
by the banks of the Mekong,
her last recollection of home.
Your story won’t translate
if no-one can read the cards
or can recall
the exact sound of a five hundred pounder
hitting a storehouse of rice.

Who here would want to?
Books like those
now bestsellers in the states,
but here

Temple bells and roosters
will always wake you
from your dream,
sounding just when the poem
needs them.

Cut! the bells say, Silence!
in that jump-cut montage
of heroes fighting for the village

threatened now
by an influx of Gangsta Rap
and foreigners who fall in love
with the way you tease them
about their size, their impatience,
their fake ragged clothes,

the way they say they care for you
and you can’t resist
I want to help, they say
and don’t come back.


forest wat*

26/06/2011
... and god said, "he is beautiful!" ©papa osmubal

... and god said, "he is beautiful!" ©papa osmubal


forest wat*

adam aitken

Who knows if suffering’s inquiry leads you anywhere
but back to suffering? Yes, it takes you to a rainbow
shining at the end of the runway.
Suffering will not cause you to fall asleep
as the train arrives at the station, for
the tracks were ripped out years ago
by lads who knew more about suffering
than we ever will. We’re still dreaming,
the journey tomorrow.
And yet, you’re right Michelle, the children
still wave here, though hardly a soul over forty,
and those who remember can’t quite recall
the historic meaning of their lives, or how it’s spelt: just
to have come this far, along the road,
just this sack of green leaves, this hammock in the trees.


* This is a reworking of one of Michelle Cahill’s poems. (– Adam Aitken)


poem

26/06/2011
his mighty weapon ©papa osmubal

his mighty weapon ©papa osmubal


poem

adam aitken

The basket can never conceal the elephant indefinitely
Barking dogs seldom bite
Words are weapons
Roses have thorns, love has obstacles.

Real gold is not afraid of the fire
The basket can never conceal the elephant indefinitely
Barking dogs seldom bite
Words are weapons.

Revolutionaries must be pulled from the earth like diamonds
Real gold is not afraid of the fire
The basket can never conceal the elephant indefinitely
Barking dogs seldom bite.

Little by little, the bottle will fill
Revolutionaries must be pulled from the earth like diamonds
Real gold is not afraid of the fire
The basket can never conceal the elephant indefinitely.

Leaves fall off not far from the trunk
Little by little, the bottle will fill
Revolutionaries must be pulled from the earth like diamonds
Real gold is not afraid of the fire.