Category Archives: Travel

Umbrage in Umbria

Umbrage

 

Umbrage in Umbria

In which Diane Keaton
plays an American woman
recovering from the pain
of a recent divorce.
Sandra Oh will feature
as her quirky sidekick,
and smoldering local love interest
will be provided by
Xavier Bardem or Antonio Banderas –
they’re not Italian
but if you want “smoldering”
you’ve got to call in the Spanish.
We’ll need a Brit,
Maggie Smith, perhaps,
as a sage but ageing dowager
and the local priest must be wry and twinkling,
Morgan Freeman, I’m thinking,
an explanation will be needed
as to how he got there.
Richard Gere will appear
near the end,
as the ex-husband
rich and massively contrite
now that the younger woman has left him,
the philandering bastard.
And as for the umbrage
taken by whom
because of what
you’ll just have to wait for the movie.

 

The challenge from Lilian over at dverse is to write a poem about a place you have travelled to, well I’ve been to Umbria and this poem kind of plays around with that!

Machu Picchu (poem)

 

Machu Picchu

I

Backpacks
bucket lists
smart phones
selfie sticks
altitude pills
attitude pills,
sun hats
sun block
Lonely Planet Guidebook,
don’t drink the water
don’t eat the salad
no ice please
this is our tribe
this is our tribe.

II

The Incas long ago
left for the valley
to grow their quinoa,
wheat and corn
but we keep coming
to look for something
that may have been left behind;
we are a benign invader
a tad earnest maybe
mild-mannered to a fault
but hand us a weak wifi signal
and we go ape-shit.
There are those among us
who have already abandoned
the physical world –
I see them
sitting in restaurants
heads bowed and thumbs
working beneath the table
connecting by radio waves
to a digital stream
of consciousness and banality.
I am he as you are he
and we are a river of electrons.

 

Photos by Marie Feeney

This poem was originally published in The Galway Review.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse

The Food on Air Canada Rouge (redux)

IMG_0521 (4)

 

The Food on Air Canada Rouge

What’s worse than a summer deluge?
What’s worse than Christmas with Ebeneezer Scrooge?
What’s worse than a ride on a runaway luge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

What’s worse than a sequel to “In Bruges”?
What’s worse than a night in a crowded refuge?
(the air, loud with snores, the air a flatulent brew)
What’s worse than another night in the same refuge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

Air Canada Rouge is a no frills version of a no frills airline. Last year, I travelled with them from Barcelona to Toronto and it was a long nine hours – the on board entertainment system (download an app, sign on to on board Wi-Fi) didn’t work, legroom was minimal, service was begrudging, and as for the food, see above.

The prompt from Lisa over at dVerse is to write a poem on the subject of food, so I thought I would give this post another outing!

The Water Taxi Arrives (Caye Caulker Chronicles Take 2)

caye-caulker-2

The Water Taxi Arrives (Caye Caulker Chronicles Take 2)

like Sherpas in search of an expedition
the backpackers tumble onto the dock
clutching Lonely Planet guidebooks
it’s nowhere near as lonely here
as their guidebooks promise
but it is part of the planet
they got that right
it is part of the planet.

(in the café below
Bob Marley is still jammin’
the locals talk of paradise lost
of Eve and apples bitten.)

This is a rewrite of a previous post.

Free Associating in New Orleans (Redux)

Free assoc 1.JPG

Free Associating in New Orleans

The waitress in the restaurant on Frenchmen Street
tells us that the rack of lamb changed her life;
that the flank steak with an ocean sauce of baby shrimps and clams
is to die for.

Surf and turf; America continues its love affair with protein.

The first cab driver is from Saudi
his mother is from Pakistan
he tells us that Pakistan
is a better place to party.
No surprises there.

The second cab driver is Egyptian.
We talk a little about Trump’s America
but mostly we talk about Mohammed Salah,
the Egyptian Messi
Egypt’s pride and joy,
who apparently is also a good person
gives back to his community
has sponsored seven weddings
in the village he comes from.
Now all of Egypt supports
Liverpool Football Club.

The third cab driver is Jordanian
The fourth cab driver is Algerian,
we commiserate, our national teams
did not qualify for the World Cup;
we talk about lack of money
pampered players, poor coaching.

Immigrants in cars talking soccer
We couldn’t be happier.

Later, in the early hours
waiting for my hangover
to make its way across town
to my hotel room
with its suitcase of regrets
I wonder what my taxi driver friends
think of it all…..
Mardi Gras
Fat Tuesday
Show me your tits
Christian rituals.

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a poem about Mardi Gras,  or similar festivities and to perhaps use juxtaposition to present a contrasting view point or mood.

This is a poem from last year, which I re-worked after thinking about the challenge.

 

Caye Caulker Chronicles (poem)

caye-caulker-2

 

Caye Caulker Chronicles

1

skinny backpackers
tumble off the water taxi
clutching Lonely Planet guidebooks,
in the café below
Bob Marley’s still jammin’
the locals talk of Paradise spoilt
of Eve, Adam and apples bitten.

2

Out on the coral reef
tiny organisms
fret about climate change
and carbonic acid
(I fink the pH is dropping, I really do);
while over in San Pedro
on the Redneck Riviera
soccer moms mingle
with sun-damaged matrons
dedicated to the preservation
of floral print muumuus.

 

…participating in open link night over at dVerse (thanks Mish), check them out.

The Food on Air Canada Rouge

The Food on Air Canada Rouge

What’s worse than a summer deluge?
What’s worse than Christmas with Ebeneezer Scrooge?
What’s worse than a ride on a runaway luge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

What’s worse than a sequel to “In Bruges”?
What’s worse than a night in a crowded refuge?
(the air, loud with snores, toxic with flatulence)
What’s worse than another night in the same refuge?
the food on Air Canada Rouge.

Air Canada Rouge is a no frills version of a no frills airline. I just travelled with them from Barcelona to Toronto and it was a long nine hours – the on board entertainment system (download an app, sign on to on board Wi-Fi) didn’t work, legroom was minimal, service was begrudging, and as for the food, see above.

Two Poems (Machu Picchu, The Sun God) up at The Galway Review

The nice people at The Galway Review have published two poems of mine (Machu Picchu, The Sun God) . You can check them out here 

(I’m not sure about the photo, one of my daughters tells me that I’m out of focus like “that guy in ‘Deconstructing Harry'” and I should get rid of that “serious poet face”).

 

Of Statues and Limitations

IMG_0521 (3)

Of Statues and Limitations

As we round Lee’s Circle in New Orleans
talk turns to statues
and the topless monument;
the shuttle bus driver tells us
that Robert E. Lee’s statue was removed
under the cover of darkness
by a crew dressed like ninjas,
to avoid recognition.
People woke up the next day
to find the statue had disappeared.
A photograph on Wikipedia
shows the statue being removed
in broad daylight by a crane;
reality is nearly always more prosaic.
She also tells us that she grew up in the neighbourhood;
as kids, they just called the monument,
“The Statue”, they did not know or care
who Robert E. Lee was.

In 1966, the IRA blew the statue of Horatio Nelson
off its pedestal on top of Nelson’s Pillar
in the middle of O’Connell Street, Dublin.
To my parents’ generation
Nelson’s Pillar was known simply as “The Pillar”.
(Dubliners are very fond of the definite article:
“How’s the head?”
“Are you still playing the soccer?”)
To them, The Pillar was a landmark
a place to meet your date
en route to one of the cinemas
on O’Connell Street to catch a film (2 syllables)
and perhaps a humid snog
in the back seat when the lights went out.
To the IRA it was a symbol of British Imperialism
of British oppression,
an insult to our patriot dead;
blah, blah, blah, boom!
The IRA was a particularly unsubtle organization.

Is all this just facile juxtaposition,
chopped up prose
masquerading as a poem,
or is there a point?
Yes, yes and yes:
see what I think is
there are people who look up at statues
there are people who believe
statues are looking down on them
and there are people
who look straight ahead
and keep moving forward
into the future,
leaving the past
to its state of disrepair.

 

IMG_1184

 

Top photo taken at the Takashi Murakami exhibition (The octopus eats its own leg) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Bottom Photo taken in Medellin, Colombia, statues by Fernando Botero.

Free Associating in New Orleans

Free assoc 1.JPG

Free Associating in New Orleans

The waitress in the restaurant on Frenchmen Street
tells us that the rack of lamb changed her life;
that the flank steak with an ocean sauce of baby shrimps and clams
is to die for.

Surf and turf.

America continues its love affair with protein.

General Bonespur pulls out of the Iran deal.

The first cab driver is from Saudi
his mother is from Pakistan
he tells us that Pakistan
is a better place to party.
No surprises there.

The second cab driver is Egyptian.
We talk a little about Trump’s America
but mostly we talk about Mohammed Salah,
the Egyptian Messi
Egypt’s pride and joy
who is also a good person
gives back to his community
has sponsored seven weddings
in the village he comes from.
Now all of Egypt supports
Liverpool Football Club.

The third cab driver is Jordanian
The fourth cab driver is Algerian
we commiserate, our national teams
did not qualify for the World Cup;
we talk about lack of money
pampered players, poor coaching.
We couldn’t be happier.

Immigrants in cars talking soccer.

 

Mother’s Day in Ollantaytambo/ Station Road (2 haiku’s)

We got off the train from Machu Picchu at the Ollantaytambo station, walked up the station road to the town square and came upon this: Mother’s Day in Ollantaytambo. It went on all day – entertainment, raffles, prizes, politician’s speeches. The ladies seemed to enjoy themselves, although they never clapped once.

IMG_0548

Later that evening, we had dinner in the restaurant down at the station and walking home we witnessed this haiku-worthy scene.

Station Road

                I

Two black dogs humping

a puzzled white terrier

on the station road.

              II

Puzzled about what?

about the expectations

of the dog in front.

 

photo by Marie Feeney

 

 

Of Fish and War (Re-Mix)

 

Nha Trang

At the National Oceanographic Institute,

among tanks cramped

with circling neurotic fish

(Hit the glass. Stop. Turn around)

there is a multi-coloured specimen

whose toxin,

the sign says,

renders its victims

“unconspicuous or even dead”.

Further north

in the Hanoi War museum

conspicuous beneath glass

lie the dog tags

of dead American soldiers –

to a man

young, buzzcut and hopeful.

 

IMGP0855

 

Photo  taken outside The Hanoi War Museum

 

Las Vegas

This appeared some time ago, thought I’d give it an outing.

 Las Vegas

tattooed junkie

frantic call box

all that glitters

raddled toupee

prime rib buffet

entertainers

not so prime

cadillac

fossil fool

hot spot

for the uncool

synthetic jewel

neutral desert

Colombian Palette / Hacienda Merida Re-Mix

 

Photos taken in Medellin, Cartagena, Guatape – Colombia.

Hacienda Merida

The rooster crows

before the break of dawn –

damn, preemptive cock.

He is joined

by the  gecko

behind the bed,

the village dogs,

birds,birds and more birds

and finally

Fiona the donkey

whose indignant heehaw announces

she is not ready for another day

tethered to a pole

in feckless shade.