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36. Thailand (Chiang Mai)

Our noses wrinkle in disgust at the pong of the returning hill-trekkers, reeking with a week’s unwashed grime.  

Happily, we are entirely oblivious to our own odorous stink a week later at journey’s end.

Until I spy the comically familiar expressions of the next group waiting expectantly for our return.

 

jpm

35. Fiji (Suva Airport)

The ultimate test of self-esteem, surely, is being weighed along with your luggage at the airline check-in for the tiny island hopper.  The dubious eyes of the clerk size you up and tally your aggregate heft, eyebrows raised.

A momentary dread: will it be you or the goat off-loaded today?

 

jpm

34. Austria

34. Austria

Clickety Clack

Orderly Austria flashes past.
Suffocatingly precise.

Oh for some fresh air.

I pry a reluctant window open just a fraction.
In an apparently personal affront to the severe man glaring at me from afar.
Who storms thunderously through the carriage to slam it shut in my face.

Twice.

 

jpm

33. Hungary (Budapest, 1990)

Rubbery, flubbery, lubbery bellies
Peeking through the clouds of steam in immodest abandon.
It’s Women’s Tuesday in the Rudas Baths,
Nestled at the foot of the castle.

And ruddy-faced, barrel-shaped matrons pass gossip and time in the public baths
as they always have.
An hour’s respite from their daily cares.

 

jpm
(posted from Waiheke Island, New Zealand)

Košice Town Square.
Safety pinned and superglued,
the sneering punk sprawls his scrawny self beside me on the bench,
radiating a loose-limbed exuberance
at odds with his steel capped boots.
An outpost of desperate wannabe anarchy
amidst Cold War Communist conformism.
Thirsting for my corrupting tales of the Wicked West.

jpm

31. Spain (Barcelona, 2007)

Today I stop and stare and climb within the fantastical spirals of the Sagrada Familia.
The passion of a crooked man,
building his twisted confections and crippled buttresses,
venerating his God.
Reaching beyond a mortal lifetime,
the loving hands of his disciples raise Gaudi’s utopian vision to grasp Catalan skies.

jpm

30. Cyprus (Ledra Street, Nicosia/Lefkosa, 1996)

One step.  Another.
Crunching hesitantly across the eerie quiet of the No-Man-Zone
that buffers this divided country.
Crossing the Green Line.
The vigilant gaze of peacekeepers tracking my progress.
I mark derelict buildings, pitted with old gun wounds,
and walk a lonely country mile through the heartbreak of a nation.

 

jpm

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