A Monk Realizes There Is No More Earth To Walk

A Monk Realizes There Is No More Earth To Walk
Champasak Province, Laos
by Brendan Walsh

Cement city, dirt town, dust village, ponds primeval
gurgling newts, poison frogs, nyoong
the mosquitoes that prefer my skin—
waterfalls, I count so many they lose shape

and memory, even Khone Phapeng Falls, flooding
Four Thousand Islands, iguanas
caged or climbing, grasscutter rats hissing,
knowing they’re destined for meat, monkey skulls

dried in market stalls. So much starving:
the dead prefer death and the living housed
in bodies desperate to feed, to feed more.
On the Mekong’s bank—the stirring

of catfish and river dolphins bubbling,
resurfacing, catching the stranger sun,
a ceaseless moon—the hurt of a body
stretched into leaf and stone. Pity: these feet

with nowhere left to walk. Hunger: this ground eats
the ash we feed it. Mist, brown river,
haze-mountains over the border swallow what
earth refuses, what does not belong.



Brendan Walsh has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work appears in Glass Poetry, Wisconsin Review, Mudfish, Lines + Stars, and other journals. He is the author of Make Anything Whole (Five Oaks) and Go (Aldrich). His chapbook, Buddha vs. Bonobo, is forthcoming from Sutra Press. He’s online at brendanwalshpoetry.com.