Express Train to Siam

Like the rogue dragon fruit left on the railway tracks
just about to get smashed by an approaching freight train
I don't stand a chance.
Not that it matters for what's the use of making trips work
let the heat pick on me first, heavy rains will do the rest.

Made a dash to get aboard, there was no rush to take a seat
through the primeval forest, dragonflies flew in, flew out
They didn't let me sleep.
Ice sachets with a straw, poured green tea, sipped my drink
there's nothing passengers can't purchase in the third class.

Who threw out all the family dogs, their tails now in motion
up and down the wide avenues of the bygone Siamese capital
I fail to understand this.
When the Ayutthaya shadows fall and the glittering temples
on the other bank of the river one by one sink into darkness.

Even though I'm just arrived in town, I'm not quite here yet
at the central station I was welcomed by an elderly cabbie
with a long right moustache.
It was this fellow who drove me to an unknown destination
the whistle of the express train dwindling away uncertain.


Halfpipe Overlords

Hail to the Lords of the boards from Bangkok!
Reunited here in the province where
over the hills, by a gas station, amidst the bamboos
a local Rastafarian prince built his own castle,
a halfpipe doubling up as a temple to Mr Marley.

We farang visitors brought along the charcoal
and selected cuts of meat, and squids 
all humble offers to be grilled and washed down
with prodigious sips of of Thailandese Leo beer,
while the Sire and his heirs pirouetted on wheels.

Hail to the Lords of the boards from Bangkok!
Whose greatness is all but oppressive,
guests as we were, they showed us friendliness
their chariots of war painted in bright colours
rode high and above to please the foreign envoys.


A Day At The Kindergarten

'Teacher Bo! Teacher Andy! Teacher Xiu Xiu!'
I'm many teachers at once
When the kids tap on my shoulders
I smile at them and make funny faces
'Teacher Andy! Teacher Bo! Teacher Silly!'
they cry delighted, their giggles
all around me, their energy overwhelming
I cannot help but sweat
the humidity, the stress, my lack of authority
'Teacher Lore' – I say – 'I'm teacher Lore'
I repeat while pointing at my chest
'Good morning teacher! Hi teacher Bo, Andy, Silly!'
I'm all these people and more
In the meantime the school band is playing Thai
tunes that I don't know. I escape
into the classroom and wait for my turn;
A day at the kindergarten has just begun.


Sketches From The Far East

They don’t know me here and I
am not familiar with them either
so far from the place called home
in a language I still cannot speak.

Not that it’s going to be easier
in this new country of mine, but
for a short while I guess I'll get by
as the Thai script does appeal to me.

Giant billboards along highways
monorails being built day and night
by the workers of the aptly named 
Italian-Thai construction company.

California Prep. Drug free campus,
4D Happiness ads on the airport link, 
a mysterious sign stating Hairism
next to the Victory Monument square.

Minivans speeding up, overtaking
pickups, tuk-tuks, old public buses
with their windows wide open stuck
at the red light in many a traffic jams.

Air-conditioning and leather seats
I travelled in style from Bangkok to
Pak Chong, the northeastern outpost 
where someone from home lives in.

The night bazaar makes the town
alive, its hundreds of stalls selling
finger food I’ve never seen before
save fried grasshoppers and jackfruit.

When I tried to cross the main road,
a traffic-packed Champs-Élysées 
dotted with vegetation and Thai flags,
it took me fifteen minutes to make it. 

This is the little Far East I know so far
for a sudden black-out limited somehow
my evening explorations out and about:
I’ll mingle with locals to see and be seen.   


Ulica Sprzeczna Pitch-Perfect

Up up, high on the wooden scaffolding
Three painters are looking down
Down at the volleyball match
Played by the local fire brigade men
Waiting for their next roll call.
There, by the creepy courtyard
The stench of bleach is overwhelming
A kid walks his dog in the ruins
Tall weed grass all around them
It’s early morning and the dice are cast.

Art. Art doesn’t belong to a place like this
Look how some vandals made a messy
Mess of a National Museum painting
Reproduced in full colours on a wall
By the muddy lot under the Wulkanizacja sign.
The sound of heels clicking across the alley
For a heartbeat the players on the pitch 
Don't care about their ongoing set point
A smash is left mid-air, the net deflects it
The firehouse bell breaks up the onlookers' bliss.


Most Syreny

I was fifteen years old when they told me
boy, you’re gone:
The Holy Cross will give you rest, at last.
Say farewell to the days to the nights you spent
here and there on both sides of the riverbank
playing tricks to the passersby, eye to eye
with those who came and those who left town.
I was born in July nineteen eighty-five,
but I felt awkward for the times I grew up in
estranged from my older siblings, alone
clumsy and goofy wearing out of date clothes.
When they put me to sleep it was autumn
and yet I'm still alive.

A Tale of Two Bridges


Pots of Gold

They dug them out on a night like this.

Everybody knew it, but no one told me
or if they did I wasn’t there to hear.
It must have weighed a ton to lift that;
there were cranes involved and levers
all those mechanical wonders used
by crews of treasure hunters worldwide
when chasing the last of the leprechauns.
They left two pits in the famous square
there where it once started and there
where it once ended before the gold
was unearthed and sold to an unknown
bidder. As far as possible from their eyes,
some stones and souls - its magic bygone.

The time I spent there is now invaluable.


North Praga Pets

The Varsovian Yorkshire
is a glocal species that
dwells on the eastern bank
of a wide wide river.
This peculiar if diminutive pet
could easily be spotted
up and down the Praga district;
it likes laps, curbs, parks, flats,
and furthermore it does fit
in the tiniest of lifts.


Moose On the Loose

Nobody quite knew
how did she get there
so far from her marshlands
downstream. And yet
she stood alone in the river
on a quiet summer morning;
it took some time for bored
city-dwellers to notice her.

She bathed and splashed
between the National Stadium
and the Praga Cathedral
unaware of all the fuss going
on along both riverbanks
where drivers pulled over
trying to guess what was that
An elk, a deer, a moose’
I heard them saying, 'it
must come from the zoo’.

Tripods were put in place
all photographers lined up
waiting for the four-legged
guest to gallop on the shallow
Vistula waters: live action
straight from primeval forests;
but they had none of that as
she saw them and didn’t move.

‘They’re excellent swimmers’
said the local Cervidae expert
when asked about the odd guest
’No, not from the zoological garden
but abiding in natural reserves’.
She came to town for a change
an ordinary European elk on a
pleasure trip to the Polish capital
feasting on city-grown thickets
for a crowded Wednesday picnic.

Miss Moose taking a swim in the Vistula river in Warsaw


Modern Lovers

Paper letters won't do,
they used to be here and there
but now are due to their end;
the ink they were written with
faded out in the sun, dried out
in a pen left to its doom.                           There's an app for that too.

For it's all about screens,
if you don't have one at hand
then go and fetch it ASAP
otherwise you won't be able to
touch, see and ultimately exist:
it's the thought, not the gift.

Stamps, postcards, what for?
Both will soon join typewriters, CDs
in the ranks of old fashioned stuff;
postmodern kids rather take selfies
and store them with a million others
in the depth of vague memory vaults.

Social platforms sunk emails,
posting snapshots is incredibly easier
than writing down their description;
everyone tweets and chirps comments,
who will ever answer you properly?
You're not one of my matches.                   Why don't you ping me?


Breakfast With Leaders

- A tight fit between paper and the tip -
reads the filter for hand rolled cigarettes
someone left unpacked out of the office.
We don’t do lunches, but look at others
as they smoke their fill standing up in
silence by the entrance revolving doors.

(After you. Cheers. You’re welcome)

The security men, unarmed, displeased
with ins and outs alike check the badges
we wear around our white collared necks.
They don’t know those who work here
any given morning it’s the same old dance
flashing our price tags under their noses.

(Hello. You can go. Thanks a lot).

And yet there’s no reason to blame them,
after all we’re the ones who hit the jackpot
the chosen lot breakfasting with leaders
on casual Fridays, by request, around 9 am:
that’s the icing on the cake for us to be taken,
we sip our coffee and let bosses spill it at will.


The Clothes The Night Stood Up In

I was too young and naïve to spend the night
out and about
besides, those days Warsaw shone so far
its glitter, its zest veiled out.
Now pinpoint that light and multiply it
by a thousand signs.
Let it challenge the mighty Milky Way train
for no galaxy or constellation was as bright
as the grand Varsovian neons;
they wore fashionable shades of deep blue skies
and it took one blink of theirs to set darkness alight.

I came far too late to this town of sighs,
mute and uncouth
as I was, I kept my eyes wide open to compensate
the little I said and understood.
Pickpocketing details stolen from
nocturnal sights.
Still valiant challengers of celestial bodies
for no galaxy or constellation is as bright
as the last Varsovian neons;
even though they left their bag of ingenious tricks
in a well-chosen cloakroom for everyone to collect it. 

Those Were The Nights



One eye is good, two eyes is bad
they saw too much to make it worth
we spent twilights beyond the glow
half ghosts, perhaps, but wholesome ones.

There's us, there's them, who else
could tell what's best to map this quest?
Our porthole is a lighthouse nowhere as
treacherous as those double beacons.

Two eyes is bad, one eye is good
we've known enough to show you lies,
they took their perspective for granted,
but a pair of pupils isn't meant to look through.

Photo by Blogusz


First Aid

The patient doesn't want to collaborate:
his reluctant behavior cannot
be tolerated any longer.
Pray, make sure he gives all that up
surrendering his naughty body
to those who will heal it.
We're not here to hurt anyone, my dear
please stay where you are, stand still
arms up, tongue out, breathe in. 

Praga North, some time ago


Business As Usual

One day in the life of a corporate man
goes from 9am to 5pm
plus some overtime hours if he cares at all
for another coffee chasing a cigarette break
again and again.
One week in the life of a corporate man
goes from Monday to Friday
weekends are sacred, but for the underlings
fresh faced privates pursuing a career
in vain, just in vain.
One month in the life of a corporate man
goes from week 1 to week 4
minus any annual leave he may get
waiting for payslip til the twentyseventh 
is insane, so insane.
One year in the life of a corporate man
goes from April to March
due to fiscal reasons he won't object
this time he knows what happens next:
his bane, his bane. 


Targowa Six By Nine

The building dates back to nineteen sixty-three
at that time it was the jewel of a bare crown
for those were difficult days down in Praga North
where and when horsedrawn carts roamed free.

Whatever stood here before the building rose up
nobody in Warsaw seem to know for sure
if I spoke their same language, I could ask better
and perhaps gaining access to an old battered cupboard
along one wall of a single roomed pre-war flat
there at the very first floor of a tenement house
What treasure I've found! What treasure I'm shown!
It's a thick crispy stack of Praga North photographs.

I see long bygone people and many things past
I see the parallel scalpels of straight trolley tracks
cut open the wet slabs of stone of once paved streets
I see you and I see who could have seen me
had I moved to the building back in nineteen sixty-three.

Targowa AD 1968


An Escapade in Radość

There happens to be a village
named “Happiness”
a half-dozen train stops
from my gentrified flat
down in the leafy outskirts
of the Polish capital.
Pinewoods and kindergartens
workers wearing orange
semi-fluorescent overalls
busying themselves fixing fences
whose spikes challenge those of
the half-hidden parish church
caught between the latest wedding
and the last goodbye of a funeral.
Amen. It's Monday morning:
Happiness townsfolk walk past
drive fast, speed up.
Behind heavy curtains, someone
keeps careful track, looks out
for the wandering stranger. 



Those whom I envy
don't care
about my being envious.
They live in their own
and dream about something
that, perhaps, I've already
oblivious to their longing.