“Mysterious Farang” by Erik Campbell

Erik Campbell


Because she worries
About his motivations and why,

At night, he habitually drops
His keys in the hall, my wife

Is investigating our neighbor,
The mysterious Farang. She plans

To collect the Bangkok Posts that he
Leaves like bled corpses outside his door

(We decided to read them one night,
Pinch them since we were poor,

And found holes in the paper, squares
Of anti-news there); she suggests

We budget, skip the afternoon’s rice
Buy the paper every night and match

The holes in his with the wholeness
Of ours in order to discover his penchants,

Where his mind meets his scissors
What he pauses for.

“Before long,” my wife tells me,
“I’ll be holding his keys!”

Then we’ll be free
To move on to larger mysteries.

* “Farang” is phonetic Thai for “foreigner of European descent.”

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
Tribute to Poets Writing Abroad


Erik Campbell: “One afternoon in the summer of 1994 I was driving to work and I heard Garrison Keillor read Stephen Dunn’s poem ‘Tenderness’ on The Writer’s Almanac. After he finished the poem I pulled my car over and sat for some time. I had to. That is why I write poems. I want to make somebody else late for work.” (website)

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