Ben Thanh Market

The call of the t-shirt seller drowns out your voice,
Bombarded by vendors, colours and trinkets;
Your pulse races with the agonizing choice
Of what to get for those back home from the tourist market.

A fascinating array of marvels for the eager buyer
To touch and taste and smell, all at over the odds prices
But it draws you in, as it draws in everyone.

As the vendors seek to push their profits ever higher,
Come fill your ears with volume, your nose with rich spices
At Ben Thanh Market, let your wallet come undone.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City of the World”

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

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Banh Mi Woman

She served breakfast with a smile;
A smile too for lunchtimes,
Afternoons and evenings –
She worked all the time.
I wondered to myself often
How long she had worked there
On the corner
Selling sandwiches
At fifty cents a time.
Her eyes drooping with exhaustion,
Her face lined with age,
Whatever dreams she had hoped for
She now had little time
To accomplish them.
Surrounded by commotion,
Her life never stopped,
Though it repeated itself
Every day.
I pause to think about her
And ponder all the time.

 


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City of the World”

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Anh Part 2: The Teacher

You can read part 1 here.


During break time I took up my pen and sat in silence
Writing nothing because nothing came to mind:
No plan for the lesson ahead; no plan for anything besides;
Nothing to end the torment spinning in my brain.
In that time I desired to know only one thing,
One thing alone I deemed important enough to learn:
Why should I have a plan for my students, for my lessons,
When my teacher seems to have no plan for me?
Then began my journey of great discovery
With fire born from anger and no guarantee;
When I arrived in the next classroom with no papers
And a book that I had all but burned in my rage
The students were unable to contain their glee –
Which must be something that wears away over time
And with age, for never have I summoned such excitement
Since my youth, and long ago it seemed as joyous children
Paraded around the room bubbling and carefree;
It made me realize how odd it is to find
That when my teacher has no plan it bothers me;
In that overwhelming moment I felt I had to
Teach the children how to escape from their cells,
So I told them of the teacher and His betrayal
And in turn made them little versions of myself;
In their young minds the teacher’s image became
One He never would have painted on His own.
Afterwards, they knew nothing but hatred for the teacher
(“That monster!” they screamed in their anger,
“Are we a class that He does nothing but ignore?”
And though I did not wish for them to suffer any further,
They were caught within the emptiness I had created.
“Look! See how He leaves us in the dark without a torch!
Why does a teacher allow pain within His classroom?
Why does He present nothing helpful to us?”)
Though I could not hope to provide them with any answers,
I had created a group of doubters with great ease,
Moulded from my own doubts to spread disease;
When those students are older, and should their fury remain,
Then that responsibility will be mine and mine alone,
For that morning when I sat inside my classroom
Watching the students engage lazily with their task
Became the morning that my teacher saw my fury
And decreed that I should never be content.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City of the World”

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

… And a Dance

Two dragons,
Each composed of two grown men;
Another man dressed as
A large, golden Buddha.
They progress around the room, pausing
At each table
To spread smiles
And bring cheer
To their audience.

On the stage, they dance
And twist, flashing colours
Before our eyes,
Filling our vision with rainbows
Of red and gold.
However long they spark amusement,
Time flies by at double speed.

We see ourselves as strangers in our homes,
Outsiders looking upon
Our own cultures, wondering
Just as we are marvelling,
Viewing Christmas lights
And Easter eggs
And media obsession with royals
With alien meaning and intention,
All understanding lost. For this
Is who we are,
Watching the dragons dance,
Observing without knowing
Blind although we see.

It makes the moment
No less beautiful,
The evening no less enthralling;
We have no bias, existing
Purely to enjoy
And nothing more.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
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Tet: A Meal …

Lunar New Year is a time
For relaxation, celebration, salutation
And great joy for all. Flags unfurl,
Hanging from every building,
Swaying with the same energy that infects
Everyone below.

We take a break
From all our efforts, joining
Together to observe the celebrations.

There’s a large meal put on
For all the teachers, organized
By our boss, enough
To impress
The stockholders. We inhale
The scent of good food
And our stomachs answer in earnest,
Begging to try everything.

Tables laid out in perfect design,
Each a splendid replica of the last;
Vivid pictures in our minds
For years to come.
Melting on the tongue,
The food takes centre stage,
Lighting up our mouths with
Unique and wonderful flavours.

Then the drums begin
From somewhere behind us,
Confusing our ears
As we search for the source
Of the sound.

Thud, thud, thud
And thump, thump, thump
And rat-a-tat-a-tat;
They make our fingers tap.
The sounds infect our bodies
Until they feel as though
They come from inside of us.

Where is that noise coming from?
It grows in volume, intensifies
Until we could explode
From the vibrations coursing through us.
Then through a door
That bursts wide open
Comes the evening’s entertainment.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
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Anh Part One: The Philosopher

One morning as I sat inside my classroom
Watching the students engage lazily with their task
With empty hearts (For none of us desired this,
But the school had insisted nonetheless;
To what end, I cannot say, perhaps merely
To bore the students), I thought to myself –
Like the dog thinks before it fetches the pheasant,
Or the cat before it ignores its owner and returns
To sleep, that there was nothing more than this.
Alas, time went no faster. So I pictured in my head
Some almighty teacher, somewhere, who with
A look of defeat in His eyes watches us solemnly,
Asking what possessed Him to give us this dreary task;
Wondering why we all make such a fuss.
Why, He questions, is there not a better choice?
All of His students begin to ask the same, until in turn
They begin to question the teacher’s judgement;
The lessons turn worse. The students become unruly,
Making a sport that they practice time and time again
In which they pretend the teacher is nowhere to be found
And that they cannot see Him in the classroom.
Once one student has begun, so the rest will follow
Their poor example, until the world is but destroyed;
There’s nothing but students with nothing to learn
Because they do not consider their lessons worth learning.
As I sat there watching one student scratch her head
In her confusion over a badly-worded question
Which even I had hoped not to attempt, I considered
Standing proud before them; ripping up their tests papers
As they cheered me on with glee. Yet that, I could not do.
The school was my Master and the wage my chain.
I owed allegiance to these two; no other did I serve.
So I knew then, in that moment of understanding
And shared pain, that this imprudent student was me:
I had ignored the presence of my teacher for too long;
There was nothing left for me but Master and chain.
The key to my desperation was held in the cold hands
Of the insistent preacher who had first felt the need
To present my students with such tedious tests.
If I had gone down a different path, and abandoned
My intellect, who knows! For I shall always question whether
That might have brought me closer to my teacher’s lessons;
In a life that could have been no less fulfilling
And perhaps more happy, I could have been sitting
In the marital home with my precious children,
Thinking that it was time for them to submit themselves
To their role as students in that soulless institution;
In a place to teach them how to read and write and think,
Though not to feel or understand their fellow man,
They could have been like every other student, discouraged
To grow as individuals, until some sorry morning when
Each child became a perfect replica of the last,
Though in their innocence they would never be trained to know.
Or I could have been working on a checkout somewhere,
Wondering why the customers were purchasing
Such strange items, such weird collections of goods,
Feeling desperate to shout that the designer brands they bought
Failed to make them any more important than me.
Alas, the more I dreamed the test away the more I saw
It mattered not what I might have done with my life,
For still in each outcome I could imagine I knew
I would have neglected my teacher, in times of
Bitter strife, for the ones I had avoided in my youth.
My devotion to that great teacher was no good.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City of the World”

I really hope you enjoyed this poem, it’s one of my personal favourites from City of the World. Part 2 will be up soon!

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

The Tourist and the Local

Did you – ?
Did you see that?
Oh my gosh!
How can they
Just walk across the road
Without looking
Like that?

Oh, look!
It’s always amusing
To see people stop
And stare
At the traffic.
You can see the questions
Forming
In their minds.

What?
Oh, well now,
I think I’ll have one of these
And one of those –
Oh, and one of those, too;
Today, I’ll go here,
Tomorrow I’ll go there:
Everything
Is so cheap here!

I cannot believe
How much they charge
For that.
These people
Have got money
Falling out
Of their pockets.

There’s so much to do!
How do I decide
Where to go,
What to do,
Where to stay,
What to eat,
What to buy …
How can I possibly choose?

If they’re not
More careful
With that bag
Hanging loosely from their shoulder
On that thin strap,
Then …

I could party
All day, all night
Out here!
If only – oh no!
Ah –
No!
My bag!
Snatched right out of
My fingers!

It’s a shame,
Really,
It is.
A thief on a motorbike
Is much faster
Than a drunk
On foot.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City of the World”

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Mui Ne, A Break From Teaching

Some days pass by without a hitch
My senses never have to twitch
In anticipation of a struggle;
Working hard, my pressure doubled:
Time to avoid potential troubles

Then there are days when nothing goes
As in my plans it is supposed;
Before I can predict disaster,
It zooms towards me, even faster
Than me, something I cannot master

So there was a decision made
To pick up a bucket and spade,
Transfer from the city to a beach
Without a lesson there to teach
No focus on work, no goals to reach

A hotel in a secluded place
With miles of quiet wandering space
To walk around and celebrate
With free gifts on the special date
When I was born – and a free cake

It’s good to have a mini holiday,
To find the time to break away
Though I cannot stay for long:
The peace and tranquility feel wrong,
In a busier place I belong

When it’s over, my concern:
Do I want to stay or return?


© Laura Marie Clark

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased a copy of my book “City of the World” this month! This is another excerpt from the book – I hope you enjoy reading it!

If you’d like to know more about this book and the others I have contributed to, please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Messenger

I wrote my name
Amongst the stars
Alongside yours;
Together we traced
Our fingers
Through space, between
Planets and moons
Suns and asteroids,
Amazed by the intricate details
Of those impossible places
Never touched by man.
I dispersed my being
Across the sky,
Every flaw exposed
And hoped
That when you looked up
At that sky,
You would see my message;
Wherever we laid our heads,
Whatever misery
Our separation brought us,
I was still with you.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Broken Down

She stopped
In the middle of a three-lane motorway;
I pulled her over,
Took her to a pair of dodgy
Repairmen on the corner
Who charged me over the odds;
I watched them
As they took her apart
And examined her,
Discussing the repairs with one another,
Her flaws and how to fix them,
Right in front of her
Without a single thought
For her feelings.
She stood there and took it all,
Every harsh word
Every snide comment
Every rude insult;
She acted as though she could not hear them
And remained still and silent.
She knew they were unaware,
Or that they did not care
Of how their words
Would make her feel –
And she could fool them,
But she could not fool me;
I paid them with reluctance,
Grasping for the notes
That slipped through my fingers
And could hear her
Questioning her value
As the money was transferred.

I bit the cheeks inside my mouth,
Forced myself to smile:
She did not need to know
That I had forked out too much
For her repairs;
I took her home
To console her there,
Let her cry out her frustration
With a low rumble
Over their cruel conversation about her.
Their words had pierced her deep
And she never went
The same again.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html