Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry Friday (the return)

I'm back and back in the groove--mostly. So here is the first Poetry Friday of 2012. It's by an Australian poet and it's about travel (or not). This piece is from Aitken's latest book Eighth Habitation published by Giramondo.

The Anti-travel Travel Poem
by Adam Aitken
The anti-travel travel poem suggests the road
romance & regrets
the endless paperwork we left behind
I dreamed of walking boots that wouldn’t lace
anti-travellers can never get lost
in a swamp of Choice we must take
the American grid pattern endless
military runways, the borders
of Empire, take-off zone & rabbit fence
keeping peace at the ruined city gate
where crows consider life in a decommissioned bomber
the line I have lain too long on the beach
staring at the awesome winter surf

is prelude to destruction & creation
the anti-travel travel poem does not
ask for directions on a road no one’s taken
it is time arrested at six-ways crossroad
where cremation crews put shoulder to the Prince’s corpse
malicious hangers-on decide its time to quit
and humans go on burning quietly
find shelf space in a Singapore of metaphysics
in food halls where no one’s lost,
no one’s found, no one needs directions
each well meant instruction (go straight
through the cemetery, turn left – or was it right)
leads to the wilderness of whole new forests
wholly dedicated to paper (Show us your ID, Mr Death!).
Sure not everyone’s perfectly matched.
Even the President preferred golf,
the curve & arrow of ball and club, the flagged
plantation we thought abolished
inter-island piracy forever, & snakes
that hide in elephant grass all know
how dangerous the sedentary life
being cute & poisonous at the same time
exiles mistaken for natives
non-travellers who decide to stay
feral & primitive, go loose, develop the local accent
camp on the edge of what they know best:
abandoned village with Pepsi sign
a dog dozing in a broken down truck
in the mountain’s two thousand metre air
the sign on a frog statue:
hasn’t changed since Eisenhower,
a red stop sign marks disused
industrial estate no one but a film crew stops at
checkpoints for the apprentice guide
and even the ICBM stalls
on a one way track to Krakatoa
with human maps it cannot read.
Rivers stop, flow back, released
from the burden of their own
meanderings, the drunk boatmen, Ophelias overgrown
bloated with silt, good for growing moss
from that moment a bird dropped seed
of grass & trees on no-where-in-particular’s
shady undergrowth & the poem’s farms & gardens
revert to shaggy Edens where no-one is a stranger
in a Kingdom of minute-by-minute ritual
where we know belonging, we know how.

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