In Our Hands – Poem by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul of Thailand

In Our Hands – Poem by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul of Thailand

They say …

That each is born owing to their past karma,

Distinguishing a dignitary from a lowly farmer…

That in our past lives we must have been sinners,

So in this one we can never be winners…

That society works like a hand with unequal fingers,

While we are an excess digit that lingers.


But we won’t be fooled that this impeaching

Discrimination is the wise Buddha’s teaching.

Society is made by the hands of many,

To which we contribute no less than any.

The hands of a kathoey* are no cruder

Nor less human than those of the Buddha.


There’s no distinction that can separate us,

Whether tribe, rank, age, gender or any status.

All primordial hands were imprinted equal

In the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia,

Before Hammurabi inscribed his stele legal

And sovereignty was invented in Westphalia.


Our hands that have wiped oceans of tears

And trembled in handcuffs under mountains of fears

Like those fighting to be heard of Hande*

Are the same as the salt-making hands of Gandhi.

The chain-breaking hands of Mandela,

And the visionary hands of Helen Keller.


The angry hands that threw bottles outside Stonewall

Are as mighty as those in the National Mall,

For they dared to hold another hand for love

From the depth of the hearts, not imposed from above,

And to celebrate the full gamut of genders

With splendid joys and joyful splendors.


These hands are manifested divine reflection

In flesh and blood, towards self-perfection,

To uphold the values which once set to dispersal

Can’t be unthought because they’re universal.

Our upraised hands won’t go down without a fight

Because in these empty hands lie our human rights.


*A term denoting transgender persons in the Thai language

*Hande Kader, the Turkish transgender activist who was brutally raped and murdered on August 12, 2016.