Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Trip to Four or Five Countries

by Geordie de Boer

I found a pad in Paddington
down the block from the stuffed bear’s den
and a short walk to the station,
dined on canned pork and beans for breakfast,
bangers and mash with a pint of bitters
for lunch, burned to paint like Turner,
took cold water showers, shook
in the daily fog, grew frail in the damp,
spit in the Thames, left London for good.

I’ve never been to Spain, but I love
flamenco music, the tall, athletic dancers.
Someone told me (later) that I
might have learned the answers to love there
by studying Picasso‘s life. Didn’t he
live and paint in France?

I took a chance and went to Paris
(France, that is) almost passing as a Canadian
(hand me the brie, eh?). My clothes
gave me away for what I am. I followed the footsteps
of Manet, ate pate de foie gras, smeared
Dijon mustard on my croque-monsieur,
hailed waiters as garcon (they snubbed me)
all to no avail. I left the Country
of Human Rights with my tights in a wad
and my tail between my legs.

I settled into Salzburg, ate pastries
at the konditorei where Mozart
broke bread, finished his unfinished
commission for the Requiem Mass
in D minor (I wrote it in C),
committed my own sins of omissions,
slept in his unmade bed (Requiem aeternam
dona mihi, Domine), took an Austrian
wife, tried to lead a pristine life.

I took my wife to Rome to roam
its Seven Hills, killed a bottle of Frascati,
made love in the Sistine Chapel
(with an American tourist), secured a divorce
from the Pope, of course,
wondered how I’d cope with single life again,
spun a cocoon in a pine tree, began
my metamorphosis to Respighi’s Pini di Roma.

I left Europe, flew back home
to New York City on my beautiful yellow
and black wings, found the city mellow,
pitched a tent in Central Park
before renting a penthouse apartment,
locked my wings away in a compartment
at Grand Central Station, pondered
how people could live in a foreign nation
that sort of life being so,
I don’t know, bland…
and foreign.

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