backpacking

Two More Euro Poems

chinio-abel

Many thanks to Bindweed, an online literary journal, for publishing the follow two poems — two more from my series about my travels through Europe in 1980.  That’s me in the middle, between Chino and Abel, with the eponymous Volkswagen van behind us.

Volkswagen Van

                                               “We never see him.”   —Louis XIV

Grand chateau, once royal court of France

  now packed with peasants on bus tours from Paris

    —and me curled up in a Volkswagen van

.

Where once purple kings and sycophants pranced

  dancing with stars on a moonlit terrace

    this grand chateau, this royal crown of France

.

Now hosts a daily deluge—trash cans

  full of coffee cups, littered souvenirs

    and me curled up in a Volkswagen van

.

When one past prince fell ill at romance

  too ashamed to be seen, too embarrassed

    he shunned the chateau, a sin across France

.

Like him, I’m alone, a grin with no glance

  never to know a stroll with an heiress

    only the hold of a Volkswagen van

.

.

Railway Deli

                       —Train to Venice, 1980

Parents packed with diaper bags; infants, kids

    stuffed like peppers in a carriage corridor

.

Uniformed soldiers smoking San Miguels

    strung-up salamis, olives in a jar

.

I close my itchy eyes, dream of first-class seats

    roomy leather arms, air-con breeze

.

I pop a Coca-Cola, pour bubbles over ice

    prop my tired feet, sip the countryside

.

But eyes blink open, burning from the stench

    thin tin can, narrow wooden bench

.

Crimes Along the Côte d’Azur

IMG_1998

Many thanks to Route 7 Review for publishing the following poem in their May 2016 issue.

Crimes Along the Côte d’Azur

                                                                                —Spring 1980

My trespass takes me to the harbor

 big-rock jetty, cool-blue bay

  Monaco behind me, shiny gold

   casino coin glittering in sunlight

.

Yachts roll in, wealthy drunks aboard

 chopped duck liver, sparkling wine and cheese

  I’m chewing cheese myself—Smiling Cow

   stolen from a store this afternoon

.

Same as stolen glances, half-nude tourists

 olive-oiled breasts topless in the sun

  me a thief like those Arabs yesterday

   snapping secret photos in Antibes

.

The train to Nice, a woman sleeps

 we alone in our cramped compartment

  bar of English chocolate in her bag

   gone before she bats an eye:  Merci

.

I slip away from the hillside hostel

 sleepy village porches early dawn

  on one, a basket—cold milk, fresh baguette

   I snatch it like a furtive photograph

.

Down by the one-clock railway stop

 I peel the paper lid, lift the chilly top

  five dumb pigeons watch me break my bread

    they peck at one another over thread