Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Riding the Elephant

Posted: September 28, 2021 in Poetry
Tags: , , ,
RIDING THE ELEPHANT
By David Allen

Thailand’s Sin City glowed at night,
neon signs lit Pattaya’s streets packed 
with American sailors and Marines 
who jostled European tourists seeking
drugs, booze and unbridled sex.

I was there to report on
joint military maneuvers,
but was struck silly 
by the maneuvers of
the "Buy-Me-Drinky”' gals 
dressed in schoolgirl uniforms,
plaid skirts and light blue blouses.
They performed bumps and grinds
in club doorways, promising wild sex.

Scantily clad waitresses in the hotel lobby 
knelt next to my chair, gingerly holding
cups to my lips as I sipped my drinks.
Outside, the streets sported cocktail bus-pubs,
and older prostitutes called from darkened doorways, 
that hid their age-warped bodies, selling themselves
for a few Thai bahts or Yankee bucks.

I spent most of my time in my hotel room 
writing about how the day’s exercise went, 
sending the story to my editors in Tokyo,
calling my wife a half ocean away,
and fending off a hallway hostess 
who wanted to give me an hour of 
"the best ever sexual deep massage." 

In the hotel restaurant I saw 
a family with two children 
and asked my interpreter
where they would go for fun.
Besides a few religious shrines,
where would a tourist in 
Sin City take a child?
Even the beautiful beaches 
swarmed with sex.

He laughed and drove me to a zoo 
where children perched on baby elephants 
that were led around a small circular track.
He was taken aback when I asked
if I could scramble atop one and go for a ride.
I didn’t care about seeming silly and laughed 
as I climbed up on Dumbo for what was
the highpoint of my trip to Thailand’s 
version of Sodom and Gomorrah

NOTE: This is one of three poems of mine in the new Last Stanza Poetry Journal (Vol 6). Be sure to order from Amazon.

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Shooting an air torpedo aboard the USS New York City

THE WORLD WAS MY WORKPLACE
By David Allen

I was asked about my workplace
What was it like?

Well, there were desks and file cabinets,
Reporter cubicles in lines,
copy editors grouped in a circle.
Typedancing was the newsroom music,
Metal keys slapping rubber platens
With the constant clickity clack background music
Coming from the wire room, created by machines
Spinning out the national news.
Years later, silence descended when computers took over;
A serenity broken only when a reporter cursed loudly
At his phone when a key source clammed up.

But there were other workplaces for me
So many  more …

There was speeding down a narrow Thailand road
On the way to the Bridge over the River Kwai,
Dodging rundown buses taking up most of both lanes
As “Highway to Hell” blared from my car’s speakers.

And there was the USS New York City,
A submarine where I pressed the button
Discharging air torpedoes at
Phantom enemy shipping.

And I can’t forget circling on the only road in Nauru,
Where I noted the island’s center
Was the richest mine of bird guano in the world.
That was on my way to Tarawa, where my workspace
Was a sandy beach next to a rusting tank
Sunken in the ground for 50 years.

Once my workplace was another beach,
Drinking rum from a coconut on Peleliu
As the children paddled to collect presents
Dropped by Santa from an Air Force plane.

Another island workplace was Guam
Where a scared photographer declared
My driving was “Vehicular Bungee Jumping”
As we rumbled along mountain trails
Searching for the cave where a Japanese soldier hid for decades.
Guam, where my family survived an 8.1 magnitude earthquake
And I was absent for a week covering the damaged buildings and lives.

There was also that day in Northern Indiana
Where my workplace was a diner booth
Chatting about White Pride with a neo-Nazi skinhead,
Getting him to trust me so I could join his Aryan Christian Church
And take notes for a future front page expose.

In the same city my workplace was a walk
Around the county courthouse listening to a police spokesman
Tell me a woman recently murdered had collected evidence
That threatened the careers of his boss and the mayor.

Much earlier in my career
My workplace was a Virginia border town
Where I interviewed descendants
Of the Hatfields and McCoys,
Noting the West Virginia families
Lived in rundown trailers with
Huge satellite TV antennas in the yards

Today my workplace is my Indiana home
In an office crammed with books,
File cabinets, plastic boxes of old newsclips,
Piles of notebooks filled with scrawled poems,
And photos of the other days
When I trawled the world for news.