Sunday, February 09, 2014

[Poem] Pastimes

Unamerican football is the national sport of Laos.
But they’re open to other games, too,
From top wars on the smoking peaks near Saisombun
To volleyball sets in Tai Dam villas.

The hopeful children know
Their own version of roshambo
And sepaktakraw,
Their limbs wild arcs and fire,
Tiny tornadoes upon the green.

But it’s difficult to get a satisfying game
Of chess or dominoes out here anymore.

Golf will never catch on in riddled Phonsavan,
And cross-country track and field games are
Ill-advised. Especially with cleats.

Crosswords can be resolved but are rarely seen,
While cryptograms fuel grave suspicions,
No matter how benign their modern code.

Hide and Seek seems particularly pointless
In the blasted zones of disjoint and hole.

A novice monk named Boun Lom
Is playing tic-tac-toe with me
In the shade of his struggling wat,
Trying to get the upper hand,

His humble zero in the center ever thwarted

In a game he doesn’t suspect he can’t win.

~The Tuk-Tuk Diaries: Our Dinner With Cluster Bombs, 2003

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