Lyrics from the Gutter

Lyrics from the Gutter

I lean against a ledge on a roof deck
Of a shop house
As the night lengthens
Past the stretch of Sisowath Boulevard
Into a far-out distance
Where no mind can ever reach,
Where the language of the heart
Is never spoken.
But I have the Bassac
River before me shimmering
Under the moonlight,
A pale woman from Oregon
Considering it too at my side.
Amongst us the small party
Of Phnom Penh barang
Shifts about like nocturnal animals
Looking for a kill.

I have nothing immense
To think through the night.
I’ll let the river flow past
Without grudge,
Let the moon cast serene
Dreams on skewered lives.
It’s enough to stay blank, feel the lack,
Feel the light.
Later the party will spill
To the Heart of Darkness.
There all desires burn in frenzy
Like evening stars falling
Into a sewer.
There the exiles and transients
Are in their element,
Always moving or dancing through
The tentative country
Of x-y-z.

2001
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

barang – Khmer word for foreigner
Heart of Darkness – a popular bar in Phnom Penh

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2 thoughts on “Lyrics from the Gutter

  1. Now I’m glad you found my blog as you have led me to yours. I like this a lot, but your prose too is really nicely written and shows your poetical leanings. This poem makes me sigh and remember…

  2. Thanks for the nice comment. I also like this poem as it reminds me of my early years in Phnom Penh, the way the place grabbed me with so much curiousity and fascination. And I’m still here, though have already aqcuired the jaded attitude of an oldtimer, I guess.

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