With far more roofs than are needed,
Golden eaves, bewildering embellishments,
Porticos held up by pillars sprouting ardent
Angels offering busts and candles, architraves
And window-frames accompanied by legends,
Threshold stairways flanked by snakes
Disgorging snakes disgorging tiger-headed demons,
Ogre sentries glowering at the worshippers,
This affluent extravagance appears to serve
The cementation of their status quo.
Offerings get bagged up for the monastery
While a sermon’s blasted through the tannoy;
Monks like rows of oranges ripen in front of
The dais while nuns in white kneel humbly
At the back as the widow offers up her snack
Where the playboy monarch shares a gilded shrine.
All this bloody incense burning and genuflection!
Nothing proud or assertive apart from the wat
Itself and that crested and bewattled cock
Strutting around as if he owned the place.
Henry VIII would dissolve it forthwith, as would
Any self-respecting communist. But I recognise
In myself an overweening prejudice, a thirst
To disapprove, as if I could lay claim
To knowing what is best for folk, aim for
Justice my way here on earth, set up some NGO
To neutralise their mystic status quo,
Yoke the Buddha’s gold to viable
Corporate uses, mine this site and promote
The superiority of the overweight who already
Occupy the beach. Gadarene swine
With sunshield, fags, cocktails, towels,
Designer bags, Apple phones and afterbite,
Reading Guardian-recommended paperbacks
Or sprawled asleep exhausted after dismissing
The board or taking over a theme-park
In Phuket, while turning as pink as the sunset.
What might make more of a profit than
The palm-oils’ gloomy crypt would be a park
Where Westerners took elephants for rides.
To be fair, the monks also have i-phones and are in the habit of taking selfies.