Black May 1992, Bangkok

By | 1 November 2019

In Bangrak:
glass towers, decapitated by smog;
swallows flitting through the lattices
of long-necked cranes;
traffic lights semaphoring dumbly
down miles of roads
fuggy with the absence of cars.

At Sanam Luang:
tannoys blaring martial songs;
the stuttering of guns;
surging roars of a restive crowd —
no longer believers in mythic futures
of fish-filled streams and golden rice —
arrhythmic throbs in the breasts
of students soaked in gasoline,
clumped under the smelting sun.

in locked boardrooms,
barb-wired mansions,
cardboard shacks along railway tracks,
the Nation gathers round TVs
and, with shock-wide eyes,
watch gilded generals
and God-King stills,
and rumour’s inexorable advance
toward torture, death.

In Bangrak:
the migrant swallows
unhitch swatches of silence
from the cranes,
lay them across the city,
the students, bound and broken now,
slumped semaphores on grass.

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