150. What This Town (Lawrence) Needs Is More Monks


Not trying to be all uppity about it

Just a notion and wonder if

You could ever get used to living

Across the street from a wat


Just the least bit of something

Passing by in a line

Them again this time with bowls

Looking for rice from the women

On the block

Nice touch to dawn


One thing for sure

There are more gongs than guns

In Laos and even though

The USA tried mighty hard to introduce

Military hardware into the culture

They failed and it is obvious why

Gongs are followed by prayers


We met a woman

As we walked in a lane

We asked her what she had been

Doing at the temple?

“Putting up lights!” was her answer

And there was no reason at all to ask

Any more



The sudden realization that

the ones in white

Are nuns…

Not exactly enlightnenment

Almost but not quite the same

(continued, stanza break)


They appear quite suddenly

Standing next to and a step

Above you

Asking in English

Where you come from

As if you were more

Interesting and important

Than the statue of Bhudda

We are all leaning on.


The woman was

walking her cow through

the wat…..

they both appeared to

be engaged with the monks

without getting all


about it


the teenage monk

invited us to prayers

come when the gong gongs

sit in the back

don’t say anything

we don’t mind

— Jim McCrary

(a wat is a temple in Cambodia, Thailand, or Laos)

Jim McCrary was born in Illinois in 1941. He spent the last half of the ’60s in Lawrence, the ’70s in New York City and San Francisco, the ’80s in Sonoma County, and the ’90s and oughts back in Lawrence. He won the Pheonix Award from the city of Lawrence for contributions to the literary culture, which was due most to a very successful poetry slam he co-curated at The Flamingo club in North Lawrence. His published books include West of Mass from Tansy Press; All That from Many Penny Press and DIY from his own Really Old Gringo Press: Mental Text (2010), My Book (2009), Maya Land (2006), Holbox (2006), Oh Miss Mary (2001) and Dive She Said (2000). His recent work has appeared in the journals Otoliths (Australia), House Organ (NY) and Galatea Review (Ca). His most recent chapbook Po Doom was published in 2011 by Hanks Orginal Loose Gravel Press.


One thought on “150. What This Town (Lawrence) Needs Is More Monks

  1. Through words, a pleasant excursion into the midst of another culture, and one that prefers gongs over guns at that. As John Lennon famously sang, “Give peace a chance.”

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