In The Underbelly

thailand girlsin the underbelly of Chiang Mai
I met a shoeshine boy, maybe 8 
midnight eyes
pleading face
 
he vanished
into the lady-boys
and 
fat old white men
groping Asian girls
 
I almost gasped when
I couldn’t find him
 
instead
there was
a baby sleeping
on a tottering
wood table
no sentinel
no arms
no soft bed
 
she could have rolled off any time
or be swept into
someone’s backpack
and disappeared
in a heartbeat
thailand kids 
around the corner
a dozen school-aged kids 
4s, 6s, 10s,
divvying up teams
as if it they were at a
park
or
someone’s back yard
or a little league
practice
 
but it was 11pm
in the hazy red light
a karaoke bar
“come upstairs for the show!”
a dozen meagerly clad girls
curtains
and hourly rates
bar on bar on bar
 
I’ve never known
desperation 
like this
an empty belly for days 
the fatigue that comes from
survival
parents
wanting me to
take care of 
them
at 40
 
I’ve never lived
in a hut
or a shack
or in a drug zone
 
I’ve never walked
30 miles 
carrying my wife
or child
for medical care
 
or
been seduced by a job
as a waitress in another
country
with the promise of
more than enough
 
thrilled that I
could be the one!
 
the one to tip the scales
in favor of enough
and maybe even
an education
 
I cannot judge
only sit here
on my back porch
with the doves
and my morning coffee
 
and wonder
 
What if it had been me?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in the red light district
 
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This entry was posted in justice, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to In The Underbelly

  1. This is really unbelievable! Amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. jaytrock says:

    The power of your words to make us see these things!

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