Archive for June, 2011

Bouncing maniacally down the middle of the road.
No man’s land either side.
Can’t step left
Can’t step right
Mines everywhere except the cleared road.

Busting.  Holding on.
No good.
Have to pee.
Nothing for it.

Driver stops. Out I tumble.
Middle of road.
Modesty less worthy than survival.



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8. Canada (Algonquin Lakes)

Erupting from a cloud of
We paddle our tinny canoe
around the next bend,
Glen swearing all the way
his skin exploding in itchy welts.

Too late!

We’re eyeball to kneecap with
A skyrise
of unmoving mooseflesh,
Chawing away disdainfully
on his midstream morning tea
of waterlily.


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7. Jordan

It is the silence of the night desert that remains with you.
Deep in Wadi Rum,

The stars swallowing the sands.

Until the surreal moment,
When a company of Jordanian foot soldiers
Materialises from the north,
Clanking along in the night cool.

Assalamu Alaikum!

Then fading.

Into the startled moonlight.


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6. Malawi (2004)

The red dust rose around the plain wooden box
as the coffin-maker finished his work
at the side of the road into Blantyre.

Competition for scarce wood was fierce
in Malawi’s only growth industry,
ruling out the fancy decorations of old.
Perfunctory maybe,
but Michael’s carpentry held spirits in thrall.


Coffin Maker outside his workshop, Malawi (image by Rob Noble, courtesy of international HIV/AIDS charity, AVERT: www.avert.org)

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5. Turkey (far north-east, 1990)

The dolma was stuffed.
Heaving with humanity and its trappings.
Wheezing over the mountain pass.

Another woman and her produce by the side of the road.
No way!

Muttering in the back, general shuffling.
Still no way.
Claire squeezes onto my lap.  General approval all round.

Room for another.


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