RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Jan 28, 2015

Richard Greene

Remembering Vientiane

Known among early European visitors
for their gentleness and insouciance,
they lingered in a backwater
of this turbulent century.

I lived in their capital
near the broad Mekong
on a dirt lane
bracketed by old wooden temples,
unpainted and weather-stained,
with their muffled bells
and slow traffic of orange-robed monks.

Only roosters
disturbed the peace
until tanks came
clogging the narrow streets,
grinding them under ridged treads,
spewing manic metal
onto roofs and shutters,
like the rhetoric
of clashing ideologies.

And bodies erupted
from the river’s smooth surface.

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