Phaya Nak Goes to the West

I have known eons among celestials
The way you have known a second.
I have stretched from the rains of Draco
To the banks of the dreaming Mekong.

I was there when a son of the Shakya
Flowered into bright Tathagata,
Breaking the cycles of Samsara.

I watched my wisest daughter journey
To your young lands of grapes and olives.
You took her beautiful head and claimed her “monster,”
Filling your proud bowels with wine and honey.

In the primeval aeries of sacred Himmapan,
Feathered Kinnaly devote their lives to song and dance
Celebrating the beauty of the timeless and the finite,
What might soar, and what might remember.
What might love, and what might wonder.
On your modest sea, you plug your ignorant ears,
Proclaiming them foul screechers reeking of carrion.

Arriving on your shores to address these matters,
You scream in terror, summoning saints and swords,
Dismissing me some rankless worm of fetid breath.

Back home, the King of the Kirin rolls his sagacious eyes
As you dream of your pale virgins and bestial unicorns.

I would teach you of eternity and the laughter of karma,
But you’d likely just mistake it for some horrid inferno.


Bryan Thao Worra

Bryan Thao Worra is an award–winning Lao–American writer. He holds an NEA Fellowship in Literature and is the author of six books with writing appearing in over 100 international publications including Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Singapore, China, Korea, Chile, Pakistan, and across the United States. He is the first Lao–American professional member of the Horror Writer Association and is an officer of the international Science Fiction Poetry Association. He is the Creative Works Editor of the Journal on Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement. His work is on display at the Smithsonian’s national traveling exhibit “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.” His 2013 book Demonstra: A Poetry Collection was selected as Book of the Year by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can visit him online at

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. You can register here.