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September 2008, vol 4 no 3

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David Cobb

 

Smiling Through

After eleven years in the Land of Smiles

spider fry
scores of them cluster
in the buddha's eye

sitting improbably on a plane at Bangkok airport, bound for home. From the pocket in front of me I separate the in-flight magazine from the vomit bag, riffle idly through till a headline halts me:

SO YOU WANT TO LIVE TO BE A HUNDRED?

If you do, try the Caucasus, it suggests. Centenarians get remarried there in droves and even start new families. Problems though, getting a visa, residence permit, living on a diet of yoghurt, and they expect you to be circumcised.

Whatever else, the article warns, don't settle in Bangkok. Soaks years off your life. I chalk up a score of one to me.

monsoon
all over the lawn
frogs, big frogs, even
bigger frogs.
Snakes.

More practical than the Caucasus, it says, consider Norfolk. A couple of years more on the Earth there compared with other parts of Brit.

Soon as I can I take a trip to Brancaster. No land north of here until you reach the Kamchatka Peninsula. Autumn, and a north-west wind blowing.

boats left to winter
the clacking of halyards
against sheetless masts

Elderly people buckling under the breeze, looking as if their hips need oiling. Grim in their determination to make the most of those two extra years. Land of .... I smile at the reminiscence.

frost, and then rain
every single goose
on a single leg

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