Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Poem

Printing a short poem or message honoring the King on his birthday, December 5th, is fairly routine and traditional for newspapers in Thailand.  However, this year there was some controversy concerning a poem printed by one very respected newspaper, Matichon.
It was a short four-line poem printed without attribution but all hell broke loose in online social networks, with angry royalist nutjobs posting comments bashing or condemning the newspaper.  Most of those who were critical of the poem felt the content was ambiguous and none of it could be seen as praising or honoring the King.
One of the critics who railed against the poem and the newspaper in particular included Suravich Virawan, executive editor of the ASTV cable channel and someone with absolutely no clue on the values of poetry.  He questioned why the poem was written in an ambiguous fashion which could be interpreted in different and negative ways.
He also noted that similar poems which were printed by the newspaper in the past for the occasion were quite straightforward, meaningful and easy to understand.
Reinforcing December 7th as a day of infamy, Sondhi Limthongkul appeared on ASTV grumbling about the poem.  The Manager Group proprietor and year-round fruitcake said the poem in question looked all right if the reader simply glanced through it.
But, he said, if one carefully read through it to find out the true meaning of the poem, the ambiguous nature of the writing could be misinterpreted, or might suggest the unnamed writer might have wanted to criticize the King.
The former leader of the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy and current poster boy for abortion, then suggested the newspaper might have already been bought by the "Man in Dubai".
Also, issuing critical points of view were some of the other dregs of Thai society; pop singers. They published their responses to the poem in the most respected and intellectually accepted media in Thailand;  Facebook.
Pop singer Billy Ogan posted his own poem condemning both the poem and Matichon, likening them to a dog.
Not to be outdone in idiocy, pop singer Kalyakorn Naksompop wrote on her Facebook page that there was no need to write in a cryptic or ambiguous fashion if the intention was to praise someone or wish him well. She added the newspaper would have been better off not writing anything at all if it did not want to honor the King.
The criticisms prompted the Matichon editorial department to issue a statement through its website in defense of the controversial poem. It said there was no ulterior motive on the part of the newspaper or the writer of the poem to offend the King.
Now I don’t want to get too involved in this poetry controversy. It is, after all, their king and their poetry.
Besides, I’m too involved nowadays with the holiday season here. Ironically, it is also the celebration of the birthday of a king – the King of kings to be exact.  That’s why we have Santa Claus, decorated trees, singing, etc…
Like during the King of Thailand’s birthday, we also have poetry for Christmas and nothing brings out the spirit of the holidays when the family all gathers around and I read a Christmas poem to them.
So, in honor of the festive holiday season, I’d like to share a traditional Christmas poem which brings cheer to my family and I hope it brings cheer to you as well.  It’s not cryptic or ambiguous but I’m fairly certain that Sondhi is not going to like it. But who cares?  He knows as much about poetry as he does about democracy. 

Twas a Sondhi Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
Nothing was stirring, not even the third hand.
The generals were sleeping, retired ones too.
Those arrogant bastards were dreaming of coup.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Christmas danced in their heads.
But I waited until I heard nary a peep,
Then I settled in bed for a much deserved sleep.

When out in the street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The lights on the street with their bright yellow glow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
“I just don’t believe it,” I said to myself,
“There’s some kind of deranged, goofy looking elf. “

Weaving between cars and against traffic flow,
In a crude little wagon pulled by four buffalo.
More yellow than lemons and more stupid they claim,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Phipbob! Now Chamlong! Now  Boonlert and Tul!
It’s all for the King. Try much harder and pull!
To the front of the porch! To the front of the wall!
Now plod away! Plod away! Plod away all!"

And then after a short and relative calm,
The front door exploded from a ping pong ball bomb.
You wouldn’t have guessed who next entered the room,
Sondhi the Terrorist of Suvarnabhumi.

From his head to his feet, he was dressed in all yellow.
He looked very scary, a despicable fellow.
Afraid for my children and even my spouse,
I yelled “this is my home, not the Government House!”

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Wrecking our home, that fat facist jerk.
He smashed into our tree and the ornaments broke,
Is this what he learned from the Santi Asoke?

His eyes were glazed over! His breath smelled of booze!
He acted quite crazy, like his mind blew a fuse!
He called me a name and stuck out his tongue,
He was a very rude man, that fat piece of dung.

He started to chuckle as he broke wind with glee,
Taking all the presents  and even the tree.
Quickly making an exit where once was our door,
He was fully loaded and he could carry no more!

He sprang to his wagon, to his team gave a hoot,
And away they all went pulling that fascist galoot.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"I love the King so this makes it all right!"

The children were shaking and filled with great fright.
They had just witnessed a horrible sight.
Their presents were gone. They didn’t know why.
They thought they’d miss Christmas and started to cry.

But the crying all ceased when reassured by their mother,
“He didn’t take everything, we still have each other.”
It was then and there when we discovered the reason
and the meaning of Christmas and the holiday season.

Christmas is more than a tree or a toy.
It’s about love, happiness, giving and joy.
These are all things Sondhi can’t carry away.
Keep them close to your heart and you’ll have Christmas Day.

It’s peace on Earth, good will towards men.
Practice this and you’ll always win,
The wrong will fail, there’s no need to dread.
Santa doesn’t wear yellow, Santa wears red.

And Santa Says to Free Somyot!
Merry Christmas!

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