As they say, guys, Don’t Poke the Bear!

Detail from the mural in what might be termed the cloisters of the Wat of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. Created 200 years ago, roughly. It was and  indeed is a Royal commission which has been restored at least once and was in its own day the work of many artists, each allotted a chapter of the Ramayana to set forth on a panel of which the image above is a fragment.

There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh and Jain adaptations. There are also Cambodian (Reamker), Indonesian, Filipino, Thai (Ramakien), Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the tale.

With its restorations, for the better or the worse, this mural has the thrill of a continuing mutual art – With others, I wrote and signed The Manifesto of Mutual Art back in the early seventies. So for me, it’s like discovering the Bayeaux Tapestry.

And after all, my headline, the saying, was just as true two hundred years ago.

See also The Ramakien Mural

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Rainbow Revolutionary


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.



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Photographs of Khao Sok

See also my drawings of Khao Sok with the eyes shut.

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Drawing Khao Sok with the eyes shut.

See also my post ‘Photographs of Khao Sok’.

Khao Sok National Park, South Thailand.

Another image of the lake

Drawing with the eyes closed.

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Sitting in Very Large Trees

This gentleman sitting within the folds of a giant Tualang tree reminds me of my very own throne in a Beech in Epping forest.

Here is a closer view:

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Mere slips of girls behind masks are hardly what I am after.

But am I that keen on entering this regal, sleeping vagina?

Look what became of the wild boars, swallowed by an unforgiving

Mountain who’d endured a love surrounded by darkness,

Pregnant and alone, somewhere in the depths of Tham Luang. 


With her loyal stable hand the princess lost all sense of time.

We smelt the kids before we saw or heard them, said a diver in the party.

Her father had the boy killed. She stabbed herself in the heart

With her hair pin. Dead leaves from above get trapped in newly

Sprouted ones. The bush so threatens modern man it has to be


Shaved, infantilised, not for the hill tribe villages to utilise as thatch. 

Light trickles in from the entrance at her labia. A myriad cicadas

Intensify my own alarm. And the heir to the throne, the bright, strong

Princess in a coma? Calm. Remain calm. We must conserve our oxygen.

Parasitic ferns fix their antlers to the trees. I have lost all sense


Of open space, for here time is trapped in a cauldron of stone.

Deep inside, the walls go moist and warm. Tham Luang Nang Non,

“The headwaters of the Sleeping Lady,” happens to be the inner lake

Created from her tears, this wide-hipped princess of a mountain

Pregnant with the ghosts of the ones who have succumbed,


Drowned in her blood which has become what so fluently now

Flows through her, rising in monsoons, quick to deepen, dangerous,

As their junior football team discovered. Pleased with her mist,

Proud to be forested. Beneath stalactite skirts, the secretive route

They took has many recesses, dead ends, limited passages 


And tunnels winding under limestone strata. Free to grow unkempt

The wilderness will reassert itself, a fresh havoc will reign

Where there is now some orderly tea plantation. Offerings of fruit,

Incense and candles may be left. But this is a haunted, not a holy cleft.

Genuflect to her image, yes. Do not remove your sandals.Xx


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Does it say ‘Gawow’ or ‘For Real’?

Asian Koel



For real, for real, for real.


For real, for real, for real, for real.

Who who who who who who who who

Snipped pips, snipped pips, snipped


For real, for real, for real?

Who who who who who who who who

Snipped pips, snipped pips, snipped pips?

What? What

Did your poodle do? Did your poodle do


For real, for real, for real, for real?

Who who who who who who who who

Snipped pips, snipped pips, snipped

What? What? What

Did your poodle do? Did your poodle do?

We are or were, we are or were

Busy fizzing busy fizzing busy fiz


For real, for real, for real.

Who who who who who who who who

Snipped pips, snipped pips, snipped

What? What

Did your poodle do? Did your poodle do?

We are or were, we are or were

Busy fizzing busy fizzing busy fizzing biz –

Quarrel a lot then, quarrel a lot.



Pour it down the bra.

Thank you. Toodle loo


For real, for real, for real, for real.

Who who who who who who who?


                                (Translated from the Thai)

Big debate with my Thai friend as to what the birds are saying. Of course, they are speaking in Thai, and Thai speakers (with their five tones) “hear” quite differently to the way an English person “hears” – so this poem is more accurately perhaps a transliteration. It’s a dog that keeps saying “What”.

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The dragon, ever at war with the elephant,

Is itself of so enormous a size,

As easily to overwhelm the elephant,

Seize it in its clutches and encircle

Its legs in its coils.


The contest is equally

Fatal to both. The elephant,

Vanquished, falls to the earth,

And by its weight, crushes the dragon

Doggedly knotted around it.


For this poem I am indebted to a brilliant post by Annone the Elephant on wordpress

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One Buddha’s seven-headed cobra parasol

Also offers coils for his throne. The Princess and the Pea

Came to mind for somebody, one dry afternoon


When the long, refreshingly cool trunk of a python

Got wrapped around my shoulders as it tried to nose away,

As probably did the black snake of which I have no memory,


The snake my mum brought back, draped around me

When I was less than a year. Protestant faiths

Only have people to emulate while Shiva balances


On the Demon of Ignorance. Vishnu has his bull.

Out of Parvati, possibly sired by her lesser half, let’s say,

Ganesh’s super-stable howdah rides upon a rat.


Imagine plump Ganesha seated on his rat sideways

Like those nifty girls in tight skirts hitching a ride to Bangkok,

Except that he sits open wide, cementing together


The soles of his feet, fluid in his hips for all his weight.

Here though in the Land of Gold it’s rare to see him riding,

For Ganesh wears the Buddha’s cap, but do I want to direct my trek


To the rat temple that Andrea went to in Rajasthan?

The one you have to enter barefoot – as is the form for wats –

But rat-shit everywhere. What pests they are. The Western mind


Celebrates its terriers, and shudders at – for all that, the good rat

Can boast its swag-bag share of beady attributes.

Once, on the roof of one of Notre-Dame’s engargoyled towers,


There was a girl leant out, her pet rat peering from a shoulder.

In our village many rats in miniature are scattered near

Ganesh’s feet. From a poet’s point-of-view, you get a lot of rhymes.


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