No one wants us
For we are Moken.
Long time here yet
Still not broken.
Three hundred years and more,
Stateless nomads of the sea.
Skilled seafarers far from shore,
We had no home but we were free.
No schooling now for our children.
In sickness, we have no care.
Nomads still, we carry on.
Tourists, they just stop and stare.
Poorer now and losing face;
No basic rights in any land.
Exploited by this venal place;
We are just a one man band.
They used our skills for gain;
They made us dive too deep;
‘Nam neeb’ and dynamite destroyed us;
Now we’re just a crippled heap.
Poor man, rich man, beggar man, thief.
Seldom do we our stories write.
We are but nothing in this land.
But this land is ours by our birthright.
Even where we’ve lived for years
They will not let us call home.
Ancestral bones are buried deep
In land that we can never own.
Fish and forage;
Land or sea.
Shelter scavenged we accept.
Never discerning, we were free.
When we were young
We dived and dined.
Our great sea gave
Fish and shells and lobsters fine.
From Koh Phuket to Surin Islands,
Free to fish on natures patch.
Now from Surin we are banned;
No turtles, cucumber, clams to catch.
Without the sea we cannot live.
Sell a photo for a buck.
Embarassed, begging for some food.
Does any tourist give a fuck.
Thai, Burmese, Rohingya, Moken.
In the big dream many others
See the world for what it is,
Because forever we are brothers.
Still no one wants us.
We are Moken.
Long time here yet
Still not broken.
A tear seeps weakly from
The corner of my eye.
Not a tear of sorrow;
Not a tear of joy.
Eyes pulled deep in sockets
Like black-holes in the sky.
Sinus working over time.
Emitting matter; head so dry.
My lungs heave
In search of air.
There’s very little
Of that here.
Will I see sunrise again.
Mountains have disappeared from view.
The hills and trees
Have all gone too.
They are all still there;
But pleasure my eye no more.
A glass-less greenhouse.
Hell’s kitchen’s core.
The furnace lit as day unfolds
Will burn for hours unabated.
By noon so hot
By eve cremated.
No rain’s been seen since November.
The reservoirs are running dry.
Just one storm in mid-December.
Canals and rivers trickle by.
The farms are parched and all that stands,
Clinging to life each day,
Are fields of corn that grips the land
Till Monsoon comes. Hope away.
Yet still by night
The fires they light.
The men who farm the very land,
To then destroy with their own hand.
[This is Chiang Mai 19th April 2016]
In the land that is so named
Your smile was once beyond compare.
Beneath the secrets veiled
An inner beauty pure and rare.
And beauty takes its name from thee.
The blazing eye of Buddha’s fire;
Thro’ Northern haze now cannot shine.
The tears run dry; the earth its pyre.
No fight beyond your cities wall
But inner strife that still returns.
The Buddha way will balance all;
Inside your heart the flame still burns.
Your people want a peaceful life;
Who rules they may not care a jot.
Be fair to every man and wife.
Power struggles, but for what?
You cannot say just how you feel.
You must suppress your inner thought.
No questions you may ask.
Your freedom must be sought.
For now your smile it sadly wanes,
Although the fire within you burns
To live and love the way you did.
Wait for the day your smile returns.
Canon zoom lens, photo credit: Morguefiles; Jackie Littletaylor in Iraq in 2005 (own photo). Yes, it’s a real tank, which disappeared a year after this photo was taken.
English expat, blogger, writer, world traveler and photography enthusiast James King is back with his first “A picture says…” column of the new year. If you like what you see here, be sure to check out his blog, Jamoroki.
Happy new year, readers! My very first guest of 2014 is 64-year-old Jackie Littletaylor, who, like me, is an expat living in Thailand with a passion for photography. Unlike me, though, Jackie had a past incarnation as a professional photographer in his home country, the United States, which he is now putting to use in his new life abroad.
Jackie keeps a blog as well as a travel site, where he shares information about his travels around Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand…
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