Siem Riep

Lady-Boy at the Siem Reap Bridge

As a gift to himself on his 60th birthday, Brian Brett bought a ticket to Cambodia. Amid bouts of dysentery, and a possible case of gangrene, he managed to visit some over-touristed temples and write a few poems. This was one of them. Lady-Boy is part of Brett’s forthcoming collection of poetry, To Your Scattered Bodies Go. It is also a track on the new album Talking Songs, from his band Scattered Bodies.  To have a listen, click here.



Beauty smiled at me
on the Siem Reap bridge –
guarded by the seven-headed Naga.


All her charms on display;
the platinum-blonde shimmering hair;
her high, full Khmer breasts.
The classic willow-woman waist.


Forty years ago I would have
said yes … yes … yes …
just for the experience
and the joy of discovery.


But I am sadder now
and I could only smile
and pass her some money,
before I walked away from beauty.


Brian Brett is a poet, memoir writer, fictionist, journalist and the former chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada. He is the author of twelve books including Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life (Greystone), which won numerous prizes, including the Writers’ Trust award for non-fiction. His new poems To Your Scattered Bodies Go won the CBC poetry prize in 2011. A collection of poems and prose poems about the endangered Peel Watershed, The Wind River Variations (Oolichan) has just been released. And he is currently completing the third of a trilogy of memoirs. For more about Brett, visit his website.


Brett is joined in Scattered Bodies by singer/composer Susheela Dawne and art-punk producer Andy Meyers. Talking Songs is available from Dream Tower Records.

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