Saturday, 29 June 2013


Ah Kah Tribal Women

When the rich see the very poor
they know it is time
to buy their valuables.

This ancient people
were driven out of Tibet
by the Tibetans,
out of China by the Chinese
and out of Burma
by the Burmese.

Ah Kah people are very poor
and cannot offer much resistance
to economic assistance.
They make exquisite silver jewellery
and headdresses.
Treasure hunters
have been buying them.

Ah Kah people have bright shining souls.
Christian missionaries
have been buying them.

Although the missionaries,
have been taught
that moth and rust doth corrupt
and thieves break in and steal,
they courageously bite the moral bullet
and seek treasures on earth as well.

Ah Kah are animists
and see all around them spirits
and the ghosts of their ancestors.
Their villages are small,
their houses bamboo
and on stilts.
They are accustomed
to having to abandon them
and move on.

Outside each village
is a ceremonial swing
on three poles.
Smaller than the Giant Brahmin Swing,
it serves the same purpose;
to gently dislodge the jiva
from the physical manipura
and reawaken the old self-knowledge.

The Headman reawakens
the old tribal-knowledge.
He can recite the names of the ancestors
back to the Beginning.

Carefully carrying
this self-knowledge
and this tribal-knowledge,
carefully preserving
this family identity,
they have wandered on
like Bronze Age tribes.

Like the Israelites,
who recited their ancestral names
in the Generation of Adam;And Adam begat Seth
and Seth begat Enos
and Enos begat Cainan
and Cainan begat Mahalaleel
and Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years
after he begat Mahalaleel…

Like the Ashokhs in Transcaucasia,
reciting the story of Gilgamesh.

All these are Inheritors.

The missionaries are bookworms
and teach the Ah Kah
not to believe in spirits
but to become Christians
and go to heaven after they are dead
(which the missionaries
do not seriously believe in
and to which they are unlikely
to be going after they are dead).

The missionaries have already bought
twenty five percent of the Ah Kah souls
in these rolling green hills.
The Spiritual Inheritance of Ah Kah
is bought with running water,
fertilizers and televisions,
radios and motorbikes,
pharmaceutical drugs and jobs
and education for the next generation.

In this village there are two brick buildings,
the priest’s house and a Church.
Despite this, the recitations still go on,
as does haruspication
from the entrails of black pigs.

Further down the valley to the east,
that large white building
is where the children eat and sleep;
and are schooled in virtues
of the neverland of western industrial society
and its sanitized philosophies.


From Bamboo Leaves by Brian Taylor

Sunday, 23 June 2013


try to make their women beautiful
by putting brass rings
around their necks
to lengthen them.
The weight
bears down and displaces
their collar bones,
so their necks appear to elevate.

It is a branch of creative aesthetics
which has its equivalent
among the Benin in Africa
and in the mutilated women’s feet
of Imperial China.

It does not make the women
more beautiful
but it does draw tourists
(as do Tracey Emin’s knickers).

Among the Meo,
an unmarried mother
is more desirable as a wife
than a virgin.
She has proved her fertility;
her children will be welcome workers
in the family’s fields.

She teaches English thirteen hours a week.
Who do you live with, Nonglak?
“I live with mother.”
When Nonglak was a baby,
her aunt said to her mother,
“I have no children.
Give me your baby.”
So, Nonglak’s mother gave her the baby.
She has always called her aunt “mother”.
Now her aunt is dead.

For four years,
the coffin has rested in the house
waiting for cremation.

Who do you live with, Nonglak?
“I live with mother.
I live with mother!”

Super-talented children
play on the eternal beach,
building castles and cities
and civilisations and worlds,
anything, everything they want;
and try to keep all and each
out of everyone else’s reach.

Dancing around hand in hand,
they themselves are powdered sand.

The sun shines down
burning them brown.

The sea rolls in
ironing everything
smooth and flat and thin.

From Bamboo Leaves by Brian Taylor