On Seeing a Man Die in the Bangkok Airport

Ten years of prison told me that the blond man
with surfer abs and tan arms—
well, I felt little, if anything. I just worried that
the sight of him would damage my five year old son.
“It’s okay,” I whispered.

The man lay on his back with his lips open as if he
had been pinned by an invisible wrestler.

A monk and a Scandinavian girl were kneeling
as if in prayer, counting up and down. They took
turns breathing into his mouth, but stopped when
the medics finally got there. Then they hurried to
catch their flights.

I was surprised to see none of them seemed to
know each other in the end.
The medics pressed on with the defibrillator.
Everyone watched the man not move.

Ten years of prison told me the man had been in
Thailand on vacation
and had drugs he didn’t want to carry through
customs, so he’d taken them all.

And his friends had left him on the floor where
he fell.

I didn’t feel much of anything because I was with
my little boy, and we were fine.
But sometimes I think about this little boy getting
old without me
and then I feel like the earth is a broken bell.

How can I be so unhappy about something that
hasn’t happened?
Sadder than seeing a man cease to exist?

The metaphor of what was happening,
us standing in line,
did not escape me.

On Teaching Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
it seems okay, all that. Nothing much is lost
if I disintegrate like a rain-wet
newspaper on the driveway. Life goes on
in better places than my body, which is
after all a selfish knot of meat. It
has been a long time since I felt lucky
and bright in this ocean of smoke and stars.

This Old Man

My five year old son,
missing one of his front teeth,
made himself a beard of bubbles
in the bathtub. He stood and looked
suddenly like a little old man,
his missing tooth like a keyhole
in a door.
It chilled me, to think I would never see him with
a beard this white.

Chris Huntington lives in Singapore with his wife and son. His non-fiction has appeared in The Millions, The Rumpus, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His prison novel, Mike Tyson Slept Here, both won the Fabri Literary Prize and was described by Corrections Today as “a reality check for the field.” He can be found on the web at chrishuntingtononline.com or on Twitter as @huntingtonch.