Motherfucking Teresa Polite

Following on from the last post which touched very loosely on manners and etiquette, I remember this time in Laos.
We were doing the homestay thing for a night in a rural village. To get there we had to do an arse-destroying 50km on a bicycle, through landscapes of rice paddies and shacks, visiting local villages on the way, learning how they make paper from bamboo, whisky from rice, obtain silk from worms. The villages like time somehow got stuck a long time ago. The houses with thatch roofs and bamboo walls, dim inside smelling of woodsmoke and on the naked packed mud floor piles of firewood. Charred pots and pans hung from the ceiling or walls, wood or woven furnishings, occasionally a tv.

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The Monkey

We were waiting in a garage
In the middle of Laos
When I noticed the monkey on a leash
Behind the garage
And the leash was tied to a rusted out car
As I watched
The monkey made crazy movements and fitted
Like it had a tic
From being tied up for so long

I watched it disappear inside the car
To be alone in another place

It’s a different sadness to the monkeys in Thailand
Where they’re forced to wear diapers
And have their pictures taken with tourists
And if they don’t look
Their heads are yanked toward the camera
So that you can put the picture on Facebook and show your friends
“Look! A monkey!”
Tiny dark unhappy eyes
Right there for the whole world to see

I wish there was something I could have done
For that poor lonely monkey
Behind the garage in Laos