We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us and we drown.

o land of sometimes-smiles:
(i’d be remiss
to suggest
my mouth always pointed
upward;
my cheeks, forever rounded;
my teeth bared in their bliss.
nor do i care to impress
the times of less-than-happiness
are sources of regret;
these moments marked
by fortitude,
in its eventuality,
provide the vital contrast
by which more pleasant times
can shine.
yin
and
yang.)
you’ve been my careful keeper.
i’d like to think
i’ve come to know you well.
of course,
another year in your possession
would only, surely,
bulge
with infinite, intricate mysteries
to unveil.
still,
i think it’s safe to say
i’ve come a long, long way–
from mattresses on borrowed floors
to houses full of furniture that’s hard to sell.

o land of secret smiles:
(i’d be a fool
to assume
i’d be privy to the endless
inner-workings,
the clandestine
culture clockwork,
the ever-changing rules
to unexpected games.)
you let me in– a little.
i’m thankful for the space you made;
a small
farang-sized
gap.
your temperamental, tonal tongue,
both obtuse and nuanced,
would move in ways my ears
could not divine
nor lips produce.
but oh– the happy moment,
the fortunate alignment
of perseverance,
patience,
and a sudden, clumsy gesture,
a providencial potion
to yield certain
understanding.

o land of sacred smiles:
(i’d be negligent
to omit
the vastness of your virtue
that reaches past the plumes
of noxious smoke
that bend and curl
between the frames and panes
where learning should
occur.)
i’m awash in all your blessings
bestowed by more than monks,
barefoot, shorn, serene,
in golden robes
that i may never touch.
by cooling, cleansing rain
that comes in weeks
more than in seasons;
by scentless,
brilliant,
bougainvilleas;
by the richest sunsets,
the sweetest fruits
(in all their curious skins),
the gentlest birdsong,
hypnotizing, trying
to fill my mornings once again
with sleep.
by endless roads
of water,
running, carving
into rocks
and forming pools from power,
years of unrelenting
gravity;
where weekends become baptisms
and we come clean again.

o land of saddened smiles:
(it’d be a shame
to surmise
that one could not sustain
the challenge of
a great romance
so often flecked with pain.)
you’ve been the shepherd
of my love.
the caring pastor,
vigilantly guiding
so it may grow and
multiply,
stealthily hiding
when the wolves had come
to prey.
but sometimes too well
did you stow my love
away,
in the most remote recesses
where even i struggled to find it;
unfurled chaos in the soul
of one young man.
and as we two would battle,
so did i with you–
but never in a way
that could negate
my gratitude.

in this warm, winterless land
how can time pass?
but oh, it has,
and the million smiles,
in all their inspiration
are now kept behind glass.
and muffled footsteps fall
on polished floors
in stoic halls
as i stroll these marble corridors
and climate-controlled rooms
eternally.

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