Thinking of Arjen, Vagabonding

Very happy to be off social media; but also very appreciative of the efforts going on there and everywhere to recognize, celebrate, and find Arjen. It’s been really nice to be with good people at Hack42, the fabulous hackerspace where he helped me get an artist residency in 2015, and think of him.

It’s the least of anyone’s worries, but I have felt like I should wait for him to finish my second poetry book, Vagabonding. Some of the poems are his, and part of the dedication. So he has an ownership stake in my work, although he’s not the owning type and would deny it gracefully…

But I also thought he would stumble out of the woods any day going: “Dudes! I was camping. What is wrong with you? Chill out.” And if that were going to happen, it probably would have happened. So maybe I should just finish the book.

Meanwhile, here are some more poems from adventures with my love R. Thinking of my favorite vagabonds.

***

“The Embassy”

Podgorica

Walking downtown for food at night,
we stumble across its ugly light.
Guards with semis and machine guns pace
outside the fencing around its face.

Projected up against a wall,
red, white, and blue enthrall
with missing stars and wrong-numbered stripes.
At least you cannot see the pipes.

But the half-empty bookshelves are plain to see
through open curtains. It occurs to me
this, too, is a display of power.
Some would hide their ignorance.

Never a country known to cower,
the bloated Merkan embassy
displays its dumb indifference.

***

“Irony”

Macedonia

The long arc of history bends black.
Austrian police are here where country ends
to help keep brown people back.

***

“Blood, wine, ticking time”

Hurghada

The Red Sea is not red.
The hope here is not dead.
It probably used to be,
from coral and algae,
dead kings and dead books.

But the reefs are dying everywhere
along with tourism here and there
where terror scares people away.
We saw it last summer in France,
the lavender fields swaying a yellow-brown dance
from too much rain,
and what if a truck should come again?

The wine-dark Mediterranean, too,
is no longer wine-dark,
though we couldn’t see through.
It was more like thyme honey
in how it looked darker, far away.

The world has no less blood in it now than then,
no less life. There are no fewer stories to write.
But we see differently as the waters change.
As we change them, and are changed.
Time now means disruption.

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