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Bangkok Beggars

 A poem by Chase Ambler


Photo Credit: Dennis Thern

~ Reflection ~

It’s amazing to me how this poem started with one phrase and quickly blossomed into my favorite work. I wanted to do something that included “locked stomachs” from the beginning. That idea that you’d be so hungry, yet know at the very core of your being that you would have no food to eat was such a tragically interesting one to me. I imagined closing your stomach off like a safe and trying not to look at it sitting there in the corner, beckoning you to hunger.

I drew my inspiration from my high-school years living in Bangkok, Thailand. Anyone who’s been to Bangkok knows of the extremes that are living on top of each other. As a business hub of Southeast Asia, the city knows great riches, but on the flip side it is home to so much abject poverty. The two collide at the bases of these enormous buildings and malls. The street is the venue. The sidewalks downtown are lined with beggars in every direction.

One other thing you’ll notice in downtown Bangkok is the abundance of food. Street restaurants and food vendors line the roads and alleyways. The smells are all around you. Enticing you towards every food cart and luring you into every doorway.

The idea that so many beggars are starving yet surrounded on all sides by people selling food, really got me started on this poem. I wanted to show how delicious this Southeast Asian fruit is, and how painfully close it is to all the people that need it. They literally share the same sidewalk.

I really tried to get a lot of Thailand in one short poem. The huge divide between the classes, the tropical food, the sweltering heat, and the sounds of street performers playing the Saw U; the “Thai Violin” as well.

This poem always sticks with me as a reminder that, each and every day, we must realize our privileges and do anything we can to help those less fortunate than us. But “less fortunate” doesn’t even come close to describing it. Horrifically under-advantaged. People living without food, without shelter, and without hope all over the planet, are in desperate need.


Chase Ambelr - Headshot

Chase Ambler is an American writer who spent his childhood in South and Southeast Asia. His life has been shaped by strange obsessions: heavy metal music, mountains, travel, and soccer. These subjects have all molded his poetry and prose in some way, but the birth of his daughter may have the greatest impact yet. He lives with his wife, baby daughter, and dog in Colorado. If one went looking for Chase, they could find him anywhere from changing diapers to summiting 14,000 foot mountains, but odds are he’s in front of the computer working on his next novel.

Visit the FB page for his Novel: Snowsong

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