BY JAN HAAG



INTRODUCTION + POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

HAAG'S BIO

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS





THE ANGKOR WAT POEMS

(In chronological order)

ALPHABETICAL INDEX


Over the years I have written many poems about or referring to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Khmer, Polpot. I am ensorcelled by Angkor-Cambodia-Khmer-Polpot -- the greatest monuments of humanity and the deepest depravity of man.

Jan Haag
Collected and posted
June 24,2003


ANGKOR WAT I

1996

O Devayani,
"Classical art is
unnatural,
unentertaining,
non-instructional,
burdensome,
irreligious,
lifeless,
soundless,
airless,
smell-less,
motionless,
undramatic,
unpoetic,
austere,
square,
moral,
disciplined,
traditional
formal,
colorless,
dark,
noble,
hieratic,
symmetrical
repetitious,
invisible,
complete,
rational,
conscious,
clear."

So saith Ad Reinhardt
while living in New York City and writing
about Khmer Sculpture
in 196l
in a booklet published by Asia House.

Therefore,
obviously,
classical art is
needlepoint,
pointing with a needle,
stitching one hole at a time,
endlessly,
soundlessly,
effortlessly,
mathematically,
meditationally,
with purity of heart,
prior to the jungle's
re-invasion.



CYWYDD DEUAIR HIRION

#42
5-22-98

My bus, though slow, is quite strict,
International District:

Ethiopian, Khmer, Jew
jostled, silent, reimbue

the traveler's dream, deep and pure,
for exotic adventure.

On the city bus, I go
with Hindu, Muslim, condo

bound. My home, this global gift,
Chinese, African, Buddhist.

To enjoy and not to shun
all others is earth's function.




LEVEL

9-12-99

Level with the lacunaria of columns,
the coffering of soffits, the hornets
layered papery sphere, rimmed bells
pillowy as philosophical velvets,

of philology, theology, red-cheeked
saviors, smiling survivors of Tibet's
diaspora, scatterings of Angkor Watt's
wind, Khmer killed, East Timor regrets,

howls in the bloodied air, stung flesh,
dodged about, not admitted to sets
of muqarnas beneath a string of robed
towers sending up musical, wailing jets,

opaque, fog blown from unseizable
seas, dark as night on an untrekked
range. Ride the black-wasp air, the debt!
Ride the ice-cold neck of the pole stilled.

Can images
kill?




IN A JUDEO-CHRISTIAN-ISLAMIC WORLD

5-4-00

My name is Devayani.

I'm a Hindu-Buddhu, living in a Judeo-Christian-Islamic world.
I go to Vikramaditya's class --
"Non-Western Architecture," he calls it,
a misnomer to be sure,
unless you understand "Architecture" as

creation of the world!
And "Islam" is about as Western as it gets
-- if Christianity (Judeo-Christian-Islamic thought) is "Western."
Plus the Incas and the Aztecs;
Teotihuacan, Chichen-Itza, Machu Pichu --

how far West can you get?
But then, again, what is he going to call it?
"Most-of-the-Rest-of-the-World Architecture 101"?
Come with him on a swift El Nino of the world's religions,
an introduction to "world thought,"

all but untaught
any place else on earth.

I sit here at 66 trying to imagine myself into the
mind-set of the young creatures hearing all this
for the first time. He stretches their minds
like the puller of a slingshot, darting swift stones
into stilled waters.

There is silence. Often, a nonplused hush.
What is the man asking?
What is he saying? Do I hear aright --
that there are more things in Heaven and Earth
than are dreamt of in the U.S.A.'s sanctum sanctorums

of Capitalism and "Democracy"?
What an astonishing concept! --
to consider the world as a world: one,
indivisible, diverse, all parts influencing the whole;
to acknowledge histories older than ours,

wiser, more beautiful than ours, more
astonishing, mystical, magical, mysterious.

Would one really rather worship
the World Trade Towers than Angkor Wat,
bow down to twin phallic symbols of technology
and greed rather than pranam to a whole universe
of Goddesses and Gods, animals and flowers,

adventures and stories, giant heads of the Khmer,
small details of the Milk Ocean's Churning?
Would one rather wander Elephanta, Ellora, Ajanta,
or Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chattanooga?
And, typically enough,

even the University of Washington's Microsoft Word,
apparently, has never been asked to spell
Teotihuacan, Chichen-Itza, Machu Pichu,
Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta,
But then again -- credit where credit is due --

it doesn't spell Chattanooga either.
The World Wide Web is smarter

-- like Vikram, a Chandrigarian-American-Hindu --

its education has been accomplished by the world,
India, America and the axial, structural universes between them:
East, West, North, South,
World History has little to do with Western History --
a brief, violent after-shock of some 500 years.



COFFEE

5-17-00

Early in the morning
the coffee machine breathing in
breathing out...

Out of bed again,
the terror mounts...
Another day...
Life growing more and more expensive,
expensive in dollars and cents
and sense and fear
and age and creation...

The U.S.A.
constituted to produce
anxiety...

The declining body aches
ages with besotted memories...
Memory ageing, clouding,
dissolving.

The coffee machine breathes
in and out, in, out, and
urinates its black brew,
to be sucked up to
course along the veins...

Older now, older with the sweetish
smell of age? of old? of the pulp mill?
the coffee? a bad liver?

Breathe for me, O coffee machine,
zap the brain, tickle the mind
turn on Word and Start-up
in the poetic mode,
tease the creative tooth.

Terror, fear, disgust, offense, anger,
vomit -- all the offal sells better:
sell, sell, sell!!!
It's a new regime
skirting the hypocrisies
of the gentler, nobler age
I grew up in.

We're back to Genghis Khan,
forward to Mohamed the Muslim,
world conquerors riding in
on stock options,
beheading the rest,
making life too expensive
to live
for those who only want to
breathe
a little coffee,
a little coke,
the nothingness
of a pleasant day, a mild evening.

"We have known this world before,"
cry a few historians of the race.
World conquest is back in fashion
in disguise.
Four or five masters,
the rest slaves
begging even seed from
corporate oligarchs.

Is it end the of the race?
They never did learn
that the many
can support the few
for only so long;
then the world
crumbles:

Angkor Wat,
Machu Pichu,
civilizations of dust
in the Tarim Basin.

Gone, gone,
all gone.

The coffee has stopped breathing
in the pot.
The caffeine embalms my veins.
for ten minutes more --
then blissful
death.



CHAUTAUQUA

11-9-00

I have simplified my life down to the bone:
One exceedingly tall stemmed vase with yellow flowers,
Chrysanthemums, feathered like the firs,
A few dark clothes,
Nothingness.

The imagined soughing of the pines:
The wind lifts, waves, rides the undulating branches,
Fresh blowing rain, and the lake,
Mossy roofs, dark windows,
Emptiness.

Behind the thick-paned windows in warmth:
Reading about Cambodia, I nurse a heart of despair,
I can eat what I wish, go where I please,
Wear dark clothes, court
Nothingness.

Imagine the monstrosity of the world:
 In silence is the puzzlement, the pain, the unendurable,
The rain, death by starvation,
Decapitation by mines
Emptiness.



THE BEGINNING OF WINTER

11-13-00

The terror grips my soul
As if I were a Cambodian
Running before Polpot
I belong no place
All the places I have been
The lives I have lived
The people I have loved
All have been destroyed
By time and disaffection
The failing of my senses
The loss of my hands' grip
The failure of my ability to love
The need to find comfort
To find peace of mind
To find solitude
To find silence

My soul is dead and I linger on
Why?
So willing to go
God does not choose me.

My flesh calls
My skin itches
No longer smooth
Splotched
Excrescencies
Stings and pains
Tiredness when I fold a sheet
Effort when I climb the stairs

I think it is true
We live for others
And if there are no others
Why live for me?
It'd be so much more
Comfortable
dead.



TWO DAYS

11-19-00

Well, this is the first day that I feel alive enough to write.
I write from Chautauqua, out of the snow,
the winter of my heart, the heart of despair.

I read about Cambodia, I have spent days doing so,
now drifting into weeks. At last,
in The Gates of Ivory, I have found someone,

a novel character, who thinks as I do,
that, somehow, an alteration in our society
was called for, was due, was a good

idea. No matter how grotesquely wrong it's gone, at the heart
was a protest against the horror of the ways things
are, and continue to be. Where not even

one five billionth of the world's population
enjoys the spoils of it all. The rest are slaughtered daily
in spirit, and in body, by greed, by crudity

of aspiration, by hacking away the environment,
by the nothingness to hope, the keeping busy-ness of life
so that one need not live to or think about a second day coming.



PERISTALSIS

02-23-01

Struggling with body and soul,
I want what Vikram says not only
to be beautiful, but true:
ascension at Borobodur,
from stories to solid stone
nothingness -- Angkor's towers
in the sunset, root-grasped, crumbling

monumental, awesome; Ajanta's caves excavated
to house a low humming, meditative nothingness;
activity, bronzed kings, golden gods,
celestial maidens created
to enhance this world-illusion, somethingness.
Breathe, be gone.
Wisdom is emptier than air.

Constructed elaborations fill the time
between being and not being with "...involuntary
muscular movements of hollow organs..."*
propelled onward through
elaborate iconography, intricate codings, Sufic
whirlings, a single
pillar pierces the sky. Ascend.



*Collier's New Century Dictionary, 1933, p. 1285


PYRAMID

02-24-01

Struggling to contain the world,
the whole world... Early on we were
taught about the pyramids, Egypt,
certain things, not
others. The Western World, not
the Hindu, Islamic,
Tibetan, Chinese worlds, not Buddha.

We were taught we Caucasians
were the human world, cultured, civilized, others
were savages, even builders of
colossal American mounds
were savages. We detonated their
worlds to prove
it. Only awesome remains survive:

pyramids of Hindu, Khmer, Aztec,
Inca, Assyrian. India kept no contemporary note
of sword-swinging Alexander's claimed conquest --
a mere gnat
to brush aside, ubiquitously occupied,
as they were,
with their own omniscient destiny.



PI MAI/PHI MAI

5-22-00/11/22/01

This morning's NET says you don't exist.
One of those dreadful Microsoft-only systems
set up solely for e-commerce, it knows nothing
of history, art, literature, nothing of the world,
It denies other languages, Westernizes and Commerce-izes
Everything.

Your Importance, your immortality denied,
nonetheless, for an instant, I see you,
Phimai,
flashing in the background.
It seems you might exist in German.

And I remember.
The stones.
the grass green, straggly,
the jungle cut back
the mile-long corridors of chiseled stone
crossing at right angles,
the silence,
the loneliness,
the wondering
who built this and why?

I had the privilege of you,

Pi Mai
Loburi
Sukhothai
Ayuttaya
Ban Chaing

when I wander through Thailand,
a glimpse of your history
maybe 7,000 years older than mine.

I return to the NET
I find it



"Phimai is home to an ancient Khmer sanctuary. It predates the Angkor ruins of Cambodia
and is believed by some scholars to have been a model for them."

(By October 22, 2001 this reference from BackpackAisa has disappeared from the NET, I'll find another.)



The Net does not fail me.

Phimai Sanctuary by Peter J. Burns
( Chenla is an early Chinese name for Cambodia.)

Though written for the tourist, this tells some of Phimai's history -- toward the bottom.



ZIGGURAT/ZIKKURAT

03-01-01

Monument in the desert, temple, stepped pyramid, public works
project, possibly that from which the Babylonian gardens
hung, possibly tower from which languages divvied into mutual
incomprehensibility. It is difficult for us to conceptualize
ziggurat, stupa, Borobodur, Angkor, Teotihuacan: solid monuments, open steps,
corridors -- a weird way of life, of worship.
Our highest towers in the West are office buildings.
We, pragmatic, use temple-architecture for banks.



CENTURY X

03-04-01
and
10-09-01 commentary*

Today is my Brother's birthday. Art thou thy brother's keeper?
He is 70, a vegetable, a slow, still animated vegetable. He can say "Yes,"
he can say "No." He eats, sleeps, watches television.
He had a stroke when he was younger than I
am now. Happy Birthday,
Brother.

Today, in addition, begins a new Poem Series -- rather, a Dual Poem
Series, maybe more than one Dual
Series.

Today, I start the Z People Biographies.
But they take NET research, which I cannot do at home.
So each Z Person may take several days -- maybe longer.
*(Through a mistake, I never got to the second Z person.
The mistake was so amusing, who needed to go on?)

To preserve my sanity,
I need to write at least
one poem each day.

Simultaneously with the Biographical
Z people sketches,
I'll do the Xs. Do them all.
All, that is, that inhabit my
Century Dictionary. However, it's hard to
tell

how many all is.
*(I never got started)

Skipping X, itself,
and Xantippe,
the other eleven topping the alphabetical X s are derived
from Greek "yellow. " The question is:
Are they the same -- belonging in one poem?
Or are they different? That was the great question
when I was picking foraminifera: Are they the same or different?

Sameness/difference may be the magna/summa
along the obstacle course of the human race.
Yellow is appropriate for my brother.
Of three, I was
the youngest and pink, my sister was middle
and blue,

so there was only yellow left for Con, the eldest. How
they got assigned in reverse chronology I do not know.
*(Pink is the most choosable of all colors.
Blue and yellow are facts of life.)
Con was always a little out of it,
odder than me,

and certainly a whole magnitude different
than my normal sister -- who now
tends him devotedly.
So the stroke may have been a blessing.

He got to stop trying to fit into a world that has no place for him.
Anyway, the Xs:
It's the 24th letter of the English alphabet.
It denotes an unknown quantity, person or thing.
It's an electromagnetic disturbance.

You see people, the Xs, strolling the streets
of Seattle or (by now) any other town or country lane, talking
-- maybe to Kuala Lampur, Paris, Urumqui, Angkor Wat -- surely distributing
atmospheric electricity of some kind

-- a student radiating from UW's Red Square
to a student in Moscow's Red Square beside the Kremlin.

It was always difficult to be present in one's own life.
Now it's possible for "friends" to walk along,
one talking to Peru, the other to Afghanistan.
When they part they say:
"See ya!"

With ears occupied elsewhere, they "See ya."
They do not speak to each other.
One wonders if they wonder where they are.
X
also means ten. But the Romans couldn't do it --
math and higher technology -- with their cumbersome, elegantly
carvable, complex numerals. So, along with a bit of Islam,
the West adopted Arabic numerals.
Look where it's got us!

Also, it tells right there, under X2 , how
Christmas got to be Xmas, and Christian (though I
have never seen this one) got to be Xtian.
Guess!
Via the Greek, of course, from their X which was Chi,
rendered in English as Ch.

So here we begin running with the Chi's
with an introduction longer than any poem will be
-- except maybe X number 2
which will deal with eleven jaundiced Xs
*(it never got written),
including xanthopsia, which means seeing everything tinged
yellow.



ESSAY VIII


06-06-01

A vision last night before sleep:
Leaves and leaves and leaves, leaves curling like shadows,
awareness floating through, dream-like in chiaroscuro, golden-brown, parting darkness;
emerging,

but still into jungle, like roots
over stones/crumbled buildings. Where am I? Angkor? I
see jungle, no buildings. Still moving, I can't get
beyond.

I stand at an edge of
giant formations, twisted, obscured by my vision. Dim light
glows from the horizon. It might even be dawn
but, though faint,

the light's too bright for dawn in the north.
Does tropical dawn come up brilliant? Is it candlelight? A billion flickering
candles rimming earth's edge. I open my eyes again. I am awake,
without

fear. I feel I could have visions often, if
I wanted, if I waited quietly for them. I question its meaning.
Was it a prophecy, a remembrance, another life -- or just the meaningless
beauty of living?



MAYA

8-17/18-01

I gave up on Tao Te Ching --
too much abstract advice for weak/
strong, noble/humble
increase/decrease, action/nonaction. Who could utilize

such advice to choose breakfast, make coffee,
decide which bus, what walk, invent
software, censor the
terror of aloneness in the anxiety-driven human-gathering

we mistake for civilization. Now I study
the Maya. Cerros, Palenque, Tikal, Teotihuacan,
the Aztecs -- civilizations
so exuberant, flamboyant, talented, awesome in architecture,

art, literature, blood, that one would think
our Frankenstein-God would have stopped there.
Enough of creation!
Today Maya-spirit -- creatures of feeling, superlative invention,

despair -- is gone. I cannot sleep. Nor
rid my mind of pierced penises,
snatched hearts, pierced
tongues, human-made mountains, pristine, white, sun-toned, sensuous

fabrics' beauty, terrors of jungle and jaguar,
vibrancy of royal ceramics, art higher
than our Leonardo
or Warhol, their buildings grander, more abstract

than the Tao. Lost in jungleness, was
their stupendous work-ethic, like ours, an escape
from imperious Gods?
Was there no one to help defy

the terrifying shadows. Apparently the people decided
on Kingship, built vast domains, triumphed,
then withdrew support,
trust, returned to the land to farm,

as Polpot obliged the Cambodians to do.
The Maya assuaged their fears by
making human life
more horrifying than anything met in nature.

How can one go on after civilizations
so colossal? Perhaps they thanked Gods
for the mean-little-gold-grabbing
Spanish come to help them die. Perhaps

they had done enough, had done it
all, had begun their retreat before
their civilization, supervised
by the Spanish, aided by Spanish diseases,

dissolved. Remember! Their supreme victor's prize was
often death, the spurting of blood
from the heart
for the delectation of Gods. Even with

our eco-terrorism, bombs, starvation-enslavement of the world's
people, our privatization of food, our
soon-to-begin-manufacture of human
beings, still, we need light-years to match

Maya hubris, Maya grandeur.



CULTIVATE DESIRE

08-25/10-16-01

On earth in the moonlight, what still
fascinates me is Angkor Wat, Nokhor,
Ongcor, and hundreds
of other wats conjured from Cambodia's plain

near Tonli Sap, the largest structures on
our planet save for the gigantic
snake of the
Chinese Wall made into a concatenation across

the mountains and valleys of the landscape
of the Middle Kingdom by Chin
Huang De. But
Buddhist, Hindu, built by Khmer Kings in

renunciation of this paltry world, the might
of Angkor -- even in the Chinese-like
square-meters, bare rock
description by (discoverer for the Western world)

Mouhot -- the power of desire bleeds through.
Buddha found the answer was desirelessness,
then proceeded for
fifty years to preach and teach, travel.

In his name were built a plethora
of the grandest structures on earth,
with brain-washed, unpaid
labor, slave labor. His desires fulfilled, he

died. Along came Capitalism, declaring we'll enslave
you, but we will pay you,
and so built,
this time, not so wide as high,

some of the highest structures the world
could conceive, preaching desire. Cultivate desire.
To be alive,
in the definition of Christian-Capitalism, is to

have desire, gluttony, greed. Like the Buddhu
and the Hindu subsisting on austerities
in the woods,
desirelessness, in the 21st Century world, just

doesn't cut the mustard. Desire is all.
After desire is death. Construct your
own reality, whether
you build Ongcor with stone or imagination

is immaterial. There is nothing more to
life than the living of it.
There is nothing
but what happens at the center of

things. Dance Shiva Dance. The moon went
from half to full, and back
to half again
and down tumbled the World Trade Towers.

Then there was dust, silence, samadhi, consciouslessness.*



*This last line inspired by Bob Fisher.



AUTUMN

11-3/4-01

Reflected sunlight at 9:06 a.m.,
the autumn is not so gloomy,
great thoughts, grand visions
illuminate my mind,
but I tire early
and fritter
away my
days.

I watch the kingdom crumble -- considering
what Angkorians must have felt of old
or the residents of Vijayanagar.
It's hard to connect what I hear
to anything happening
to me. For this
is a peaceful
autumn,
cerise,
gold.

As the coup d'etat goes on, we're
encouraged, daily, to lead our lives:
buy, spend as if nothing at all
were happening,
neither bombs in
Afghanistan,
nor anthrax,
nor threats
to bridges
nor

the loss of 450,000 jobs, nor the enrichment of the rich,
not the firemen fighting the NYPD for the right
to retrieves bodies of their brothers.
400 firemen died along with
the 5,000, were buried
beneath the debris
at ground zero
along with
the silver
and gold
in

storage vaults below the World Trade Towers,
limousines, documents; 70 feet down
the spaces descend obese with billions of
dollars worth of world trade
knowledge and what was
once thought
necessary.

Nothing changes, how do you win a war
that has no enemy -- except ourselves
except ourselves
ourselves
ourselves
selves
selves with appetites, thoughts visions, desires
unhindered by conscience, pity.
I have long thought I would
like be to around for the
demise of the Western
World. Who knew it
would be this
year?

Or that the autumn in cerise and gold
would be so beautiful, full of
birds flying, scarlet leaves
falling, mild weather, wind,
welcome rains, surprises,
and visions,
reflected
light,
sun.







OPTING OUT

08-30-02




I think I am opting out.
The medical profession thinks
I am anxiety ridden and depressed.
My riposte is: You'd have to be crazy
not to be anxious and depressed
in a post 9/11 world run by
a non-elected madman
who thinks he can go
king-making in every other
country if they don't agree with
him, call them The Axis of Evil,
bomb them into oblivion.

The world has not seen
such mindless aggression
against its people since Polpot,
sure-footed on the footpath blazed
by Genghis Khan
and the old testament
heroes who
went into "Enemy" villages and slew
"every man, woman, child and cow."

It was ever thus.
You'd have to be mad
not to be anxious and depressed.
Or
opt out into the illuminated
sunshine world of cottonwood
shadows on the wall.
The bliss of not being here.
When the sun doesn't shine,
I am not here.
The shadows are darker than my heart.
My pain is illuminated by
the blankness of being.



THE NOVEL

11-13/14-02




It would be like inviting other
people to live with me again
-- bring them in at the door
and set them down, comfortably.

Ask them about their health and
their wealth, their stories and their
kin, like the Southern School, Capote,
Faulkner and whoever came in-between.

Even the "bee that stung poor
Chucky" might re-emerge, transmogrify the night,
set with me in the kitchen
by the dim refrigerator light

listening to the cicada's scrape, buzz
and novelize while waiting for misty
dawn to seep through grey moss
clumps. Reading Lescroart almost convinces

me I can write again, order
the world, tease meaning out of
chaos. His characters, so different from
me -- like Martians -- have actions,

have meetings, convictions, errands, live lives
of devastating importance. Crimes to be
solved, loves to be won or
lost. It matters to them

-- so deeply -- if one person murders
another. For me, for years, its
been like: one more or less
person doesn't make much difference.

How can it matter when "my
country 'tis of thee" goes off
bombing millions, yes MILLIONS of other
people -- Vietnam, Cambodia, Columbia, Serbia/Yugoslavia,

Afghanistan -- lets millions die of starvation
with wheat rotting in our lockups.
So who can really care if
one human murders another for

a few thousand, million bucks, anger,
hatred, love. We murder every day.
It's just who does it and
who gets away with it

or who doesn't. O, I suppose
that would make a novel. It
makes hundreds of novels which people
read and disregard. Free speech

means you say what you please,
write what you want and everybody
reads, hears it like poetry -- irrelevant
to life! "Free speech" has

convinced Americans you can shout it
in the streets, write it in
the sky, march one-hundred-thousand strong -- what
you say will be ignored,

forgotten. Writing might have some therapeutic
effect on the writer, but no
effect whatsoever, on any democratic representatives,
the decision-makers who listen

only to God and the corporations.
But that isn't why I don't
write novels anymore. It's been a
lack of joie de vivre,

the lack of a reason for
being, lethargy, fatigue, the lostness of
living, a sense of dying, slowing,
aching, bewilderment at the non-effectiveness

of EVERYTHING. What makes a difference
(doesn't make a difference) today, no
matter what happens, it will be
remade, fancied-up, resold by tomorrow.

The relative madness of everything in
flux, Shiva dancing... But that's not
it either, it's blank mind. I
never did have anything to

say. I've written 3 or 4,000
poems, have said nothing, nothing that
will be heard. The trees stll
lose their leaves, the cat

boxes my hands, the wind blows
heat up the radiator. Some will
be counted and some will not.
It hurts, if one stops

to think, to be among the
un-counted caste, among the outcastes, where
most people dwell like churning fish,
orchids swallowed by the sea.



THANKSGIVING DAY

11-28/12-28-02




Yesterday, because I had time and nothing much else to do,
and perhaps because it was Thanksgiving Eve, I finally
looked at one and a half of John Pilger's Cambodian films.

Today, I am compelled to ask: Why?
must life go on -- Why? given it does and it will
do I feel compelled, being an isolate, mostly unable,

unwilling to engage my fellows -- even for dinner --
why do I need to look at some of the greatest
evil --

I use that word though I don't believe in it, indeed reject it
(because it is a Bushism) -- committed by human against
human, by The United States of America against a little

nation that never threatened or hurt us, nor did we
disliked in anyway. We went, dropped bombs
and helped the evil guys, and kept doing it

and doing it
and doing it
and doing it
and doing it
and doing it
and doing it

'til we were forced to drop "genocide" from our vocabulary,
lest the world, thinking we were the greatest evil on earth,
come after us on the basis of that forbidden truth: Genocide.

So that's what I did on Thanksgiving Eve. This morning
I walk with my sister and, even before that Charles
-- also not going to "family" -- asks Shiva Purna and me

to join him and Bill at 2:00 p.m. This I shall do
still wondering just why we need to go on in the face of
people -- not here, but elsewhere -- who kill their fellows

mercilessly while we, gentle artists, mouth "human rights,"
and inadvertently find our destinies evolving with butchery.



WHAT'S THERE

11-30/12-01/28-02

You begin to notice what's there:
the bare branches, bending, rising, lace
in the fog. The sun high,
an incandescent white cloud, nimbus radiating.
Cool air comes through the window.
Nothing more. Crows cawing, a seagull

wings by. The cat moves, stretches
flat on the sill. Last night
in the high-ceilinged, white shadowed room,
the huge room full of soft,
cemetery light, an illusion of Cambodia...
The cat, barely discernible, sits on

the mirror: black ears and twilit,
black tail, playing with something or
something's reflection in grey-shimmering-gold light. In
the darkness I imagine the long
aisles, towers, faced-stones of Angkor Wat.
Phimai. I was there, not at

Angkor. Reality is real. It substitutes
itself for read-about things. I try
again to imagine myself Cambodian -- in
jungle darkness, in the oil-lamp luxury,
fine delicacy of Suryavarman's exuberant dynasty.
A young girl, lying in twilight,

watches the Siamese cat -- reflected -- paw
moving at the shallow moat's edge.
I try to imagine myself Cambodian
with Nixon bombs dropping, "carpet-bombing" -- one
bomb for the rug's every stitch.
A million and more die by

bombs, land-mines, starvation, the American-encouraged, genocidal
Polpot. Bombs arrow down, tracing
designs in the sky. Great clouds
puff, fog-like, embroidered with the branches
of fragmented trees. Skulls lie everywhere.
piles of skulls, pits of bones.

I lie in my high-ceilinged white
room on soft sheets, in warmth
and comfort, watching the Siamese cat,
playing in the mirror. I have
nothing to do, nowhere to go,
in the night or by day,

except into my imagination seeking to
envision the Cambodian Holocaust -- ignored by
the world then, ignored now, horror
so beyond imagining, that even choosing
to think about it, cannot be
imagined. Yet, for them, for Cambodians,

the bombs, dying, deaths, skulls, hunger,
the torture, the disembowelments, the shrieks
as real for them as fog
in the branches of my winter
trees, vast and lacy in brightening
light. How odd that any part

of the human race has stomach
to go on, after what we
have done to each other, still
do, daily. So I live in
silence and alone, trying to shade
my eyes into seeing what is

there. Is a single human life
worth anything at all? Or is
it, like the cockroaches, the billion,
billion oleander blossoms? Who'd miss one
or one hundred? The mass will
go on reproducing, reproducing, reproducing, reproducing

even unto guaranteed destruction. No one
counts the branches of the trees
in the fog or in sunshine.
Or, if they could, which count?
Today's? Yesterday's? Tomorrow's? No imagination can
equal the dropping of even one

bomb. No imagination can resurrected even
one moment of life in Angkor,
Phimai, Ayutthaya. No one, not even
I, can imagine my life, alone
in the night, in the fog-dimmed
light, watching the cat play with

its reflection -- like the dark-earred cats
of Angkor Thom must have played,
dipping their paws into their own
reflections in the great, artificial lakes
beneath the explosion-headed, smoked-shrouded palms.



DUBASH

"...man of two languages... a cicerone " OED, p. 698

12-20-02

Yesterday, late afternoon, I saw the film about Kissinger,
the genocidal maniac, the urbane, smooth, smiling
killer of millions which ends with the last puzzle
piece dropping into place: on the morning of September
11, 2001 the newspapers were about to headline his being indicted
as a war criminal 'til, at 8:45, the planes began to hit the
Twin Towers, the Pentagon, etc., and the Pres. fled
round the country from airport to airport, for the rest
of the day.

There was never any doubt in my mind that this "terrorism"
was orchestrated by Bush, to divert attention, to protect the oil,
but who was the dubash? the agent, the go-between?
Kissinger. Then to cap the brazen brouhaha of it all, a year
later, he's to head the investigation committee into the Twin
Tower Terrorism. But a few people have memories, such a hue
and a cry that he must resign, and the other fellow,
Mitchell, too.

But have you looked around lately to see how many
Republican Party criminals our unelected Bush has pulled
from the mothballs and re-employed to help shape up America
and the world.
Looks like he is bucking to be in the line of descent:
Hitler
Kissinger
Nixon
Pinochet
Polpot
Soros
Bush & Bush
and their
gang of four

to say nothing of Genghis Khan
the Christian Patriarchs
the Islamic Fundamentalists
Muslim and Hindu fanatics set at each others' throats by the British
the extermination of the early Americans by the "Americans"
the savagery of Europeans
the hordes, the hordes, the hordes.
Do you think this doesn't haunt the 21st Century mind
of the most powerful people ever to inhabit the earth --
able at will to dominate or declare a moratorium.

It was ever such, since the beginning of the world:
the mad, the greedy and the power hungry.
What are the lives of a few million people
compared to one's thumb on the button?



MATAMATA

"A fresh-water turtle..." Century Dictionary, p. 1027

02-09-03

Time to drop another poem into the bin of time:
strolling in the cool air this morning, I was accounting for
all those things I have not done -- which I thought
I wanted passionately enough to do.

I never spoke to the Dalai Lama -- too shy.
I never found a man I could love and live with
and who could live with and love me.
I never got to Lhasa, Angkor Wat or Borobudur.

"...having a brown carapace covered with pyramidal eminences." CD, p. 1027

I never lived long enough in New Mexico.
I never got the great novel written. I have
never found peace or comfort in any spiritual belief
for long. On the other hand, I have lived long enough

to realize the humorous futility in wanting anything at all,
to recognize the futile humor in desiring huge, American
houses for everyone. Laboratory rats go crazy when given too
much space. Crazed Americans are probably beyond recovery.

The kitten, Shiva-purna, is who he is who he is
who he is. He is not different. He does
what he does what he does. He does not
write poetry to drop into the bin of time.



MOSLINGS

"...vulgar form of Morsel, v. " OED, p. 683

02-22-03

Being distracted this morning, the dictionary I grab
is the OED, and there is "moslings" --
kind of an adorable word (like a kitten).
In the 1875 quote "...used in wiping off metals while

grinding and polishing." But it's not in the Century.
Too old? Not even an "archaic." But Morsel v!
We have to look into that. Oh, my God,
there's not even a "morsel v."


MORSEL

"To divide into 'morsels' or small pieces." OED, p.672

in the Century, only an "n." -- and in The American Heritage,
the Random House, no v. : "to morsel."
Even as late as 1861, we have from Lytton and Fane:
"The split and morselled

crags." O look how it started out! 1598 Florio, "to morsell,
to bite." And 1621 Molle, "Chopping into pieces, morselling
and deuouring their prisoners." Well, now, we don't
do that today, do we?

Just nice clean carpets of bombs macerating the millions,
Vietnam, Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq -- it's not only okay,
it's good for them, and they should appreciate it as
much more sanitary than "moselling."



THE RICH

03-30-03

The rich have to have some means of entertainment
in this world, so they fight wars, have parties.
But they are always afraid that the poor are having
more fun, working, achingly serious.
In today's world, the rich, out of envy, snap up
the interesting jobs as well. They become
actors, anchor-men, journalists, lawyers,
all professions that, when "rich" was invented, were
scorned as beneath the notice
of the great Khans, the Emperors of China,
the Maharajas of India,
Suryavarman II
whose entertainment was building
Angkor Wat.

Building -- now there's a noble trade,
but hard to learn, so the rich, the kings
and emperors had the talented poor
design and build their buildings,
then stuck their royal names upon them.
Would you rather have your name on
a building? or have the capacity to spend
a thousand hours
carving the Churning of the Milk Ocean?
detailed, intricate, sensuous with curves
and the beauties of form.

But stock-broking, the trades, the "business"
of government? -- too far from parties, entertainment
the glories of remaining in HQ,
way behind the lines, behind the smart bombs,
the guided missiles, on the telephones,
the wireless, e-mail, fax,
holding press conferences,
weekends at Camp David,
Summit Meetings in the Azores,
or flying around all over the country
fearful of pursuit
on 9/11.

The rich have to work up the pleasure of sweating
in games, tennis, polo, hard-ball.
They never get the chance at the "good sweat"
of chopping a log-pile to see them
through a long cold winter.



ANGKOR WAT II

#77
04-16-03

No matter how you succeed
in pushing back time and oblivion

No matter what new knowledge
you may find circulating about the universe

No matter what exquisite perfections
the architecture of your civilizations may obtain

The jungle lush and green stealing carbon
pumping oxygen comes back for Angkor Wat's splendor

Until the sun in her omnivorous beneficence and warmth,
in her perpetual greed for growth, for incineration swallows up the earth.



Inspired by Vikram Prakash's 4-15-03 Angkor Wat lecture




KAMPUCHEAN LOTUS

#92
06-06-03

In the gardens of Kampuchea the lotus sprout from skulls.
The secret of life is to attain belief that nothing
will be there when I return.
Extract expectation from the squishy gray matter,
plant it beside the lotus, through the eye socket, the nose
hole, behind the grimacing teeth. Plant deep.
The lotus grows from
slime, from the blood, explodes like uranium
enriched earth, spattering brains, bits of bone across fields,
leaves a meteor's crater in my breast, deep, torn.
But no matter, life is
like that, full of pain, agony, torment and yet
pure, unblemished lotus sprout from skulls.



EXPECTATION

#93
06-06-03

Do not expect tomorrow to be there when you arrive,
nor the palm, the mango, nor the silk-cotton tree.
Expect nothing, fill it with sunshine or clouds.
Don't expect even the weather. Let it be.
Lie at peace in the void of pain, let
the silence fill up your world
with flat heat, wild wind.
The Buddha was here
and Shiva. Now
is gone.
Do not expect tomorrow to be there when you arrive.



RECAPITULATIONS

#94
06-06-03

Don't expect humans to change. Will a fish?
Will a tree?
We've been the same since we can trace our ancestry.
Capable of killing
one another, we think that human consciousness allows us
to be

different, that eventually we'll train nature's law to conform to
our morality.
After a certain amount of history and despair, I no longer expect
humans to change,
nor a fish. Evolution might give us gills. Or has she taken them

away? But consciousness,
very far down the scale of ontogeny, will never recapitulate
phylogeny. Pol Pot will return
before we can subdue our urge to murder one another.

None-the-less, phylacteries:
Why should I not, for my God's sake, appear
a fool? Don't expect humans to change.



BRONZE AND STONE

#95
06-06-03




Censers and apsaras,
like cyclamen throwing back their wings,
the hot air thick with incense,
the ragged palms,
too
tall
to
take
part
in
real
life,
offer coconuts,
milk,
sweetness,
the brown
hairiness of entanglement.
Pile the stones on one another.
Chop the roots. They are not mortar.
In use for
1103 years by men in orange,
maybe longer.
Censers and apsaras, Buddhas, Vishnu, and Shiva linga,
sacred symbols of humanity, overgrown by roots
and rampant leaves, greener than algae or slime, too green.
Bronze and stone. Censers and apsaras.



MASQUERADE

#105
06-15-03

I am an archaeologist anthropologist paleontologist
seeking not for the artifacts the ancestors or the bones of animal.
I seek bedrock
beneath
the square-faced Khmer.
It is not far to dig under
monumental passage or
across ramp along aisle
relief-carved Gods pale
root-prisoned sculpture
or estuary marsh flood-
plain
underpinning the stupendous achievement of Cambodian
temples built embraced
by jungle revealed again where there was nothing there
was something replaced
by nothing again then something preserved
like bitter melon a dried
mango elegant to the taste and wounded -- beckoning genocide
explosive pain guarded
grandeur of vision resulting in mined and skulled fields.
Now that I have rinsed the sorrow from my system and the people
from my life I can walk into Tonle Sap wetting my ankles without compassion.
When the masquerade has ended there is the green earth and the emptiness of being
water less than forever.




Copyright © 2003 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@janhaag.com or jhaag@u.washington.edu


INDEX OF THE ANGKOR WAT POEMS


Angkor Wat I, 1996

Angkor Wat II, 04-16-03

Autumn, 11-03/04-01

The Beginning Of Winter, 11-13-00

Bronze and Stone, 06-06-03

Century X, o3-04-01

Chautauqua, 11-09-00

Coffee, 05-17-00

Cultivate Desire, 08-25/10-16-01

Cywydd Deuair Hirion, 05-22-98

Dubash, 12-20-02

Essay VIII, 06-06-01

Expectation, 06-06-03

In A Judeo-Christian-Islamic World, 05-04-00

Kampuchean Lotus, 06-06-03

Level, 09-12-99

Masquerade, 06-15-02

Matamata, 02-09-03

Maya, 08-17/18-01

Moslings + Morsel, 02-22-03

The Novel, 11-13/14-02

Opting Out, 08-30-02

Peristalsis, 02-23-01

Pi Mai/Phimai, 05-22-00/11-22-01

Pyramid, 02-24-01

Recapitulations, 06-06-03

The Rich, 03-30-03

Thanksgiving Day, 11-28/12-28-02

Two Days, 11-19-00

What's There, 11-30/12-01/28-02

Ziggurat/Zikkurat, 03-01-01





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BY JAN HAAG


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21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context