‘The Town Without Limits’, The Observer, 8.4.12
LAST DAY, Adam Axford writes on his belly
with a fat black marker pen, here in Viang Veng. Silly boy…
at least he hasn’t jumped in and cracked his skull,
like that drunken idiot a month before—
How do we spoil things ? Becoming full of ourselves
because we can’t (OMG) face being empty,
but the trick is: empty, is: open out,
is: massively receive
connection, ecstasy, bliss—
and not this
travesty of earthly happiness where monkeys
in Bermuda shorts swing into the river
and makeshift waterside cafes sell cheap shots of Lao-Lao
and almost any high you fancy.
float downriver on inflateable inner tyre tubes
occasionally copulating in full view…
The locals call them zombies, and they’re right
lingering on in their residue
polluting Nam Song, silencing its music
(where they won’t go now, for fear of evil spirits)
—talking loudly in the middle of your concert, same thing.
Full of themselves to bursting.
We don’t know how to listen,
until teacher makes us listen—
and She will. Boy, she will…
you’re squirting lime juice into your own eyes,
snorting salt, and downing another shot
on your last day in Paradise.
Illustration Nick Victor