Bio Note: I’m a New Mexico poet; published or accepted for publication in places like I-70 Review, First Literary Review-East, and Sheila-Na-Gig. Currently working on a manuscript of poems about Southeast Asia.
Two Ways of Looking at Water
Scooping water with his hands, a boy splashes the barrel sides and wide back of a half-ton water buffalo belly-deep in a farm pond. The coarse rag for cleaning ears and eyes is on grass sloping the circle of muddy water. In Iowa this would be called animal husbandry. Here, it’s caring for the family tractor. All this in a fleck of looking as the highway lifts me doing 100 km over a local canal, and drops down again—brief exhilaration before falling back to earth. The creature knows its caretaker. Later, the boy will sprawl on its back, napping in the sun as it browses rice stubble in the surrounding field. I’m on my way to Pattaya Beach to bake out a week of air conditioning to cycle between water and towel; on dimpled sand above high water. I’ve not brought my camera. Nothing photo-worthy in the seam of sea and sky, the sand, cloudless sun.
Learning the Ropes – First Year in Bangkok
When gratitude for monsoon tires, despite cool air and its relief; when drains pause in their course, the Chao Phraya invades the streets, and shops start to sandbag doorways against the water pushed across as sidewalk waves from passing buses, we look again at rumpled skies, the sagging clouds pouting gray like underside of upper bunks emerging again in early light. We look for signs of thinning, bits of sun stretching, reaching for us beneath the blue’s sloping ceiling over our green coverlet already smooth across the bed. In conversation with Khun Luang, retired captain of King’s Guards, we’re learning how monsoon shifts the city’s focus to upcountry, annually needed rice field floods. We watch the rain slanting through our neighborhood on heavy legs around our bargain-rental house: until it piles outside the kitchen, passes through the pantry wall, the dining room, then living room, the porch where it floats my shoes. We notice how around us houses sit just like the rice farmer who lives above the annual flood: our neighbors live on higher ground. So, that’s why we got this bargain.
©2022 John Hicks
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL