Written By

Poet and Photographer J H Martin @ A Coat for a Monkey




This delving day

Of distracting thoughts

Brings no relief

From the fires of February

Only your

Slow moving brown waters

Washing over my Valium eyes


Sat near a poor family

I watch their two children

Collecting bottles from your muddy banks

As their mother –

Sitting on the sun-baked dock –

Sews and makes them blankets

Out of multi-coloured rags

While their father and her husband

Sleeps away the midday heat

Beneath the shade

Of their tarpaulin shelter


Śakra –

Where is your source?

And where is the release?


From the bamboo hut in the village

From the bamboo mat upon the wooden floor

From the new shirt and longyi laid out on it

From the donations and the daily rites

And from the echoes of that fish-shaped bell


Śakra – come on

I can’t see it any more


Not in that blue screen of blazing sky

Not in this mirage of sauna heat

And not in your cool but self polluted waters

Which can never pull down these walls of mind

Which January has helped my nerves to build


From the midnight howls of her anguish

From the violent slam of midnight doors

From the whispers of your cruel pretas

And from the loud and petrified cries

Of her young son

Who only begged and pleaded

For us to go home


To a home which is not his

To her home which is not theirs

To a home which not even you

Can ever choose to return to

No matter how boundless its ocean

Or how high its mountain

Around which you claim

Both the sun and moon turn eternally


Like the tankers

That dwarf the fishing boats

Like the stacks of containers

That obscure the golden pagoda

Like the sweat upon the workers backs

Carrying forty kilo bags to foreign ships

And like the dozens that crowd themselves

On to the overloaded hourly ferry


Nothing but forever changes

On your ever moving surface


No Śakra


Here – There is no source

No causal link

No escape and no release


Only a grieving sister

A son with no father

And these two children

Standing here – knee deep in your holy mud

Asking me

For a thousand Kyats



Image and text © J H Martin



J H’s Previous Contributions To Edge Of Humanity Magazine


Life On Waste Land

No Way To Die

Artist Exposé | Urban

Taking Different Paths

Reddish Days In Asia

A Quiet Exit