Saturday, August 20, 2011

Abhasra's back

etched on her back are names
of men, illegible as she never knew
them, some maybe but no more than
faces but most by touch, sweat and grit in
under nail skin---young when taken
they taught her sin, one night at a time
til she knew where her freedom begins
and ends, where hands hold not in
love but slavering tongues

do you like thai food?

the joke is no longer funny when
she hears them, clink drinks and
scan the merchandise, twenty four
dollars for the night, damp from pocket
fingering---their eyes are snarling wolves
which haunt her dreams, their jaws
ever clamped on her throat too tight to scream,
long after we bought her bar bill, giving her
a place to stay, teaching new ways

it is her parents though i fear for,
who chose which child to sell,
so the rest could live.

they wear each name born between
their daughter's shoulder blades,
as prayer shawls, harvesting the fields
of the food she bought,

do you like thai food?

Today at dVerse, Victoria is using her art background to bring us a great poetry prompt for Poetics. It will go live at 3 pm EST, so come ready to write.

I am hosting Poetry Jam this week and challenged everyone to write for affect by focusing on a cause or highlight a plight that is dear to them.

For more information on how we are rescuing girls from the sex slave trade in Thailand, please see Freedom 424.

83 comments:

Pauline said...

The work of poetry is to make things more deeply felt - your words here raise ire and goosebumps and bile, as they were meant to do. Thank you for also posting a chance to help.

annell said...

An amazing write!

Daniel said...

I knew what this was about after the first few words. I struggle with this whole thing because we view it entirely through western eyes. In that culture our black and whites form different hues. Is it morality? Is it culture? Is it desperation? I don't know because I don't know their ways. But I do know that this all needs to stop. Thanks for posting on this.

DJan said...

It's really scary to think of how many young girls (and young boys) are forced to live like this. Your piece is terrifying in its message. Thank you for giving me some hope with that link.

Heather said...

oh this is so sad....we are lucky to live where we live. I like the way you wrote this...have a great saturday-:)

Steve E said...

My opinion:
Practices which are so embedded in a culture--globally?--can only be 'stopped' by a Higher Power than 'us'.

Each of us will in the end judge ourselves, in that pure light of truth which we'll experience on the other side.

Last (lastly? I hate that word! Like 'firstly'--crap!), some of us are so little aware of the power of prayer, and praise. When the human race, beginning with (OMG--us?) learns of this power of prayer, and uses it, that alone will bring about the changes God--and you and I--desires.
PEACE!

♥ Braja said...

holy crap....

♥ Braja said...

I'm reading comments that mention "culture." This is nothing to do with culture, unless you want to add "perversion of..." beforehand. Absolutely nothing at all to do with culture....really wrong choice of word to try and describe or explain why something happens. Way, way off track.

the walking man said...

@Daniel the sex tourism industry primarily has to do with two things, economic health on a national scale and economic help to the family of the girls or boys sold into slavery. Places like Thailand where it is easy to have children but hard to feed them parents often make choices between starvation and the loss of a kid.

There is no nation on earth in the western developed world which in some way or another does not participate.

In America alone some 13,000 children go missing every day and of that number about 1/2 wind up in the sex trade.

This is no foreign only problem we to in the good old US of A have a thriving sex industry full of run away kids, kidnapped kids and illegals brought in and moved from state to state.

Nice shot Brian.

Valerie said...

It's a heartbreaking situation. I weep for the lost children, but much good will my tears do.

happygirl said...

their eyes are snarling wolves
which haunt her dreams, their jaws
ever clamped on her throat too tight to scream,

Human trafficking is horrifying. Your words sickened me, as they should.

California Girl said...

I thought at first this was about prostitution and, of course, it is somewhat. Child slavery...your words capture the horror.

hedgewitch said...

Heavy duty here, brian, and you bring both the character and the situation to life. I don't blame the parents or the girl for obeying--both are equally trapped. I blame the users who make this trade possible, the prurient and curious, the twisted and the sick, just as I blame the drug cartels on the money that users provide for their 'kicks.' Supply and demand is a harsh mistress.

Heaven said...

This one hits closer to home as I have seen these girls and know their stories. All of reasons why this is happening are inter-related - poverty, lack of education and opportunity; greed and commercialism; a society which has lost its moral compass.

And this post also relates to poor children working for almost nothing, in unhealthy and dirty sweat shops for big companies.

Your words sting here...powerful lines Brian. See you later ~

David Allen Waters said...

I always enjoy your writes, this one is for sure a fav...I will reread it over again a few times, digest it...

TALON said...

Touching, Brian. The terrible choices that people have to make in this world...it's heart-stopping.

Mama Zen said...

Beautifully written, Brian. A haunting piece.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah this is rather disgusting, mainly the sick nutjobs that would even want to buy young girls for the night. It's pathetic that humans are the third highest illegally traded thing. Behind guns and drugs, very disturbing.

Eva Gallant said...

That poem is so sad. The fact that it is based on reality is heart-breaking.

adeeyoyo said...

What nightmare lives some people lead...

emmettwheatfall.com said...

A sad truth told poetically. May we all pray for the end of the sex trade. I tremble to think if that were one of my daughters.

laurenmichelleotheim said...

This write was heart wrenching. Words are capable of painting such vivid pictures.

Magpie said...

This must be a wonderfully done piece as it shocked me, angered me and saddened me.

Madhulika said...

Hi..!!
You got a prize..!!

check it out at: http://madhulikaspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/08/here-comes-my-first-award_20.html
:)

Celestial Dreamz said...

amazing poetic dealing of such a sad theme ... almost haunting in its reality ...

Pat said...

You tell a story with words and this story is both horrifying and sad.

Dulce said...

Done it again, you man.Breaking one's soul by reminding us about another so cruel reality of our world.and the impossibility of doing anything about it... or can we?

anyway, it's a fact we face day after day...
shame

Victoria said...

You drew me in immediately, Brian. I could feel the etchings on her back. I love how you clarified that it was Thai sex slaves by the simple question: "Do you like Thai food." This is how poets can create change...by raising awareness and outrage at what is happening here, today, in our world. Brilliant.

Fred said...

Brian, excellent write, exceptional cause. I am of the opinion that if we can we should do what we can to help others. Poetry and art in general are natural avenues many cycle down in such ventures. Perhaps this says something about the "artist", all inclusive, on how we all think, perhaps getting in-tune to emotions, atmosphere, empathy etc.. provides us with a more kindredness to such ventures or Perhaps it's that many are without themselves, struggling in their own worlds, in such we feel connected in that way. Whatever the reason, the important point I'm trying to make here is that it's important to do what you can, when and where you can. I'm sure we all wish we could do more, and I'd just like to thank you for doing what you can, and how you do it.

ds said...

One of your most powerful poems to date, and a cause I knew nothing about. Thank you.

Claudia said...

again...tears...and having two daughters myself, this poem tears my heart apart. this is a well balanced write bri and regarding texture it feels like you took a rough piece of wood and scratched it right upon my soul...leaving bleeding spots all over the body

Jen said...

I can't imagine selling a child. Trying not to judge the parents and failing miserably.

Zeba said...

I like your stuff. Whatever I have read. Do you like Thai food? You jam images into my head. Beautiful, melancholic, dark images. Love them. And your words. :)

MorningAJ said...

Ouch! It's sadly too true.

Brian Miller said...

some fine points...this is directed at thailand as are the efforts of F424...but it does touch most countries in some way...we in the US are not without our failing with our children and WM is right on the fact that child sex is traded here...

Beth said...

Sadly, vividly damning to human kind. I am reeling from the layers of emotion along with the intense content. I love visiting WaystationOne and adore your poetry. Smile!

jen revved said...

This is very powerful-- I love it that you couch this particular cause in a visceral poem, rich with the "impasto" of details-- poignant, compelling. xj

Laurie Kolp said...

Heart-wrenching, sad piece... vivid images.

Daydreamertoo said...

Chilling because it's all true. How sad to have to sell a child into slavery and prostitution to feed the rest in your family.
Savage, and brutally honest and all the sadder for its truth.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
First Of all,
Your poetic words in the poem Abhasra's back" are very sad, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and have given me "food" for thought!
[I also feel so very sad for the parent(s) placed in that predicament...If that was me what would I do?
Believe me not sale my children.[If I had [or one day] have children...]
Secondly,
Thanks, for sharing all the links!
deedee :-(

Arron Shilling said...

Man you made me angry - not an emotion i usually feel when reading other peoples poetry.

A stark write Brian -
a power house.

Im off to punch a human trafficking gangster
ggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

secret agent woman said...

It curdles my soul that girls are sold into prostitution. Horrifying.

Anna :o] said...

"it is her parents i fear for
who chose which child to sell,
so the rest could live."

How awful a decision to make Brian, how hard it must be to cleanse from a conscience.

A sad tale of survival.

Anna :o]

Beachanny said...

Certainly a lot of texture here - along with a slice of humanity's life. This haunting story doesn't seem to change, it moves from one era to another and it is global. I almost can't assimilate all of its pain.

TechnoBabe said...

It seems unthinkable that just because parents are in a different country of a different culture, they would sell one child. For any reason. I have not lived there and I don't know how they believe this is right, and it is just so sad beyond words.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Talk about texture, Brian. This is rough, really rough. Excellent spotlight on a devastating and very serious problem/disease.

chromapoesy.com said...

I add a 'here, here' to Joy's comment and I'm sorry to be so late to your excellent work but I was also dealing with the destruction of young lives today. Keep saying the truth!

5thsister said...

I really can't comment. Nothing I say will change any of this. I am powerless and it really sucks. This is most definitely a "slap in the face" piece about the dark depths human nature will dig to satiate greedy, gluttonous, appetites for the perverse. I shall now stew in the raw emotion this piece pulled from me.

Reflections said...

Your post is specific to a cause... yet you touch upon so much need, so many sacrifices made to an unworthy world.

Lolamouse said...

Brian,
This one got right to me and won't let go.

Tara Miller said...

Reading this and knowing the reality of it is so very sad and sickening. The way your writing ingrains such visualization and evokes such emotion within us doesn't allow anyone to ignore the fact that this is really happening to children in many places. And Steve E is right...prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can help....

Patricia said...

Brian...
I know you didn't write this for poetic accolades... you wrote it for Abhasra and the thousands like her. You know her name... I thank God He does too. You gave her a place to stay... safely. Thank you for posting the link to F424... I had never heard of it before... there are no words....

Christine said...

on the edge of my seat intense!

Pseudo said...

Heavy and real. It made me even more sad than when I watch/read the news on such events

Teri said...

Only humans could conjure up something like selling other people!! What is wrong with us as a society??

ladyfi said...

Such a moving piece of writing about the plight of all too many.

kaykuala said...

It is a human tragedy. It is a sad choice for the parents. They decided who would have to go. It is human sacrifice!

Louise said...

I felt this one 'their eyes are snarling wolves
which haunt her dreams, their jaws
ever clamped on her throat too tight to scream' ~ truly awful. An amazing write, Brian.

sheila said...

Oh my God, that made my heart sink. :o(
When I read the part about the parents I felt heartbroken for the whole situation. You literally bring your words to life, Brian.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Such a powerful and necessary piece! I admire the contrast between the uncompromising verses and the restraint of the sardonic refrain. And yes, a telling use of texture.

Brendan said...

When I was 14 I met a girl the same age as I in our subdivision. Actually I became friends first with her older brother, who said she'd been fucked like 50 times already. The number fascinated me, and I drifted from him to her, befriending her, hanging out, listening to her tales of all those boys and backseats out in the moonlight behind her house where we smoked cigarettes. I was too scared to try much though I got a squeeze and a peek in . The history of so many boys on her was a true damage, and yet somehow it was holy, a soul-road, I dunno ... I did nothing to free her -what could I do -- except try to get her to join the fundamentalist "rap group" I was forced my mother to attend. That was a disaster -- on a weekend retreat she fled our glossolalia gibberish and struck out with some boys she found on a nearby street and showed up the next morning in a heap on the lawn next to the street, drunk and whatever else. Her victimhood was massive yet her possession of it was also immense. I see all those names now glowing on her back somewhere, if she survived her teen years, if she managed to grow up, scars and angel wings at once. Elsewhere -- like Thailand - it would have been whoredom and countless rape,but here it was just suburban falling, the way so many do. Thanks for awakening the memory, in ways you probably didn't intend. - Brendan

wolfsrosebud said...

Brian... thanks

Ravenblack said...

You've touched upon something rarely considered. It's so easy to villainize the parents when one doesn't understand the whole of it, it's good that you highlighted their pain, and that they might have done it to save the other children that they have. This shows that the situation is not a simple manner of just about money or greed, it's entire complex monster of a problem that needs to be tackled from probably a few angles.

Sad to read and thanks for sharing and the link.

Sue said...

Made me sick to my stomach. Literally.

Well done and visceral.

"/

haikulovesongs said...

heart-wrenching! literally ~ i've seen short segments on television showing a small part of the plight of these children. i want to condemn the parents, but how can i when i am not walking in their shoes? in places where birth control is not accessible the way it is in the U.S. any more than jobs, housing, food, clean water ~ the basic things most of us take for granted, though too many in this country no longer have them either. stunningly written, Brian!

haikulovesongs said...

heart-wrenching! literally ~ i've seen short segments on television showing a small part of the plight of these children. i want to condemn the parents, but how can i when i am not walking in their shoes? in places where birth control is not accessible the way it is in the U.S. any more than jobs, housing, food, clean water ~ the basic things most of us take for granted, though too many in this country no longer have them either. stunningly written, Brian!

Natasha said...

Not normally one to steal anothers comment but, as Fred said: "Whatever the reason, the important point I'm trying to make here is that it's important to do what you can, when and where you can. I'm sure we all wish we could do more, and I'd just like to thank you for doing what you can, and how you do it. "
Sums up my thoughts beautifully. Societal conditioning is perhaps the biggest hurdle in a cause such as this. Awareness, awareness, AWARENESS! Somehow, someway...they've got to know they have a choice. A tough battle indeed.

Cad said...

You never mince words, do you? But those who should read them never will...

lori said...

This makes tears sting my eyes and nausea fill my stomach :( Going over to check out the Freedom 424 site now...

Cheryl said...

What a fantastic way to raise awareness. My blood ran cold reading this poem.

Fireblossom said...

I've seen this first hand when I lived in Asia when I was in my early 20s. Unreal.

Sheila Moore said...

this is something I don't think I could ever understand. wow...

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

This is a very social concern and I like what you have done with it

Debbie.Dawnslight said...

Brian,
The truth you dared describe and feel for is troubling, terrifying and so so sad.
You write so well, and I really like the way you "stick it" to the reader... 'you like Thai food?'
D-:
deb

C Rose said...

Captivating write Brian, the truth revealed at its culmination so clever. Great write ~ Rose

Titus said...

Stunning first four lines.

Very interesting prompt too.

Myrna R. said...

Ugh, I can hardly address this because it pierces my heart. Glad you can write about this Brian and of course, so well. May all children be blessed.

Pastor Sharon said...

This does touch every country, whether trafficking or a means of survival. It makes my stomach lurch to think of even one having to have this as history of his/her experience.

Who can push the child out without thought of what will happen just for the sake of survival of the fittest?

Where and when can we stop this?

Zuzana said...

To me it is at all times sad and shocking to contemplate the faith of so many young girls, that do not get chance to have a life. At times it is almost too painful to even go down that avenue of thinking...
Hope you had a great weekend dear Brian,
xoxo

Mary said...

Brian, there is nothing I can really add to what has already been said. This poem presents a situation as it is. Painful , frightening reality for so many. Your poem was an eye opener!

Enchanted Oak said...

To quote these lines back at you:

"they wear each name born between
their daughter's shoulder blades,
as prayer shawls, harvesting the fields
of the food she bought,"

I found in them, not condemnation, but an awakening in me for their sacrifice. It's my favorite part of your poem. So easy to rush to judgment, so difficult to understand. In a world in which a terrible choice must be made, one unthinkable to me in my abundance, I'm grateful for the prayer shawls you wrap them in, the food that nourishes children.

NanU said...

Excellent piece, Brian. Thank you.

seasideauthor said...

Great Piece. A good cause,
there are churches and other
groups buying those children
back in many countries. Poverty
very sad everywhere.