From Here to There

"Well, let's try it again," I said, still in my role as Preacher but attempting to shift to the role of Poet. "I've traveled in my time, split an infinitive or two at the best venues and the worst."

"Tell us about it," said the Satirist.

"That could be dangerous," I said.

"Well, be vague about the details," said the Humorist. "I have had to so in San Francisco, where in days gone by you could be shot dead for poking fun at a politician or some other form of fool."

"No problem," I said.

I proceeded to be vague.

Shanghai mumblers mumbling,

poetry without conviction, though a clean record;

but poetry is Hell, you know;

good poetry has criminal intent.

Crafty Barcelona

hot pop tapas, music & madness,

steamy thoughts, sweaty words, lurid minds panting, tongues drooling.

Rapide & cool Cultur Club a Paris,

beautiful Belleville & Le Croix crossing,

targeting midgets mincing marbles.

Horizontal haters & Madame Mao's Dowry,

Vertical lovers & minds unkind,

ideas purchased from books online and Internet crooks,

a Kindle kind of croissant & espresso craft sans art.

Shanghai's old French Concession

no longer conceding to the French, however;

coming & going, going & coming in lalaland,

the bandstand and the monkey choir on fire.

Swansea scene unseen, the Copper on Castle,

straight out of the Bucket List on same, insane!;

seeing the Castle at Carmarthen;

being the Bar of the basement,

Cardigan again & again.

Tell her in the cellar of your love, my boyish bard,

but love above about

on High Street & Quay,

the way and the key to her harbor's pleasure.

It's all you need to know

in The Warren of Carmarthen or the Queen's,

a gin & tonic whisky-worn warren town shire;

warbling tones & guitar strings tuned well enough—"Enough!"—

by mourners mourning the loss of light in Modern Times

by the castle wall & the banks of the Towy,

more or less or still something Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring to come.

"But these are not," said a voice, "the only places

I've heard you read or be red."

It is the voice of Truth, a long-time traveling companion.

True enough. Feeling like an open bottle of midnight blue ink

about to spell or be spilled, I continue in my clumsy way:

Long ago in Herb Caen's The City of Saint Francis on The Bay

it was Roma, it was Greco, it was Sacred Grounds;

it was Trieste, it was The Beat Museum, it was Live Worms ...

where you learned to quit mumbling on Mumbles Road in Swansea Bay

and read like you meant to mean something or die,

pesky fly swatted, dot of little I, i, upon wall;

it was "lovely and watery" in Pacifica Wales on Columbus and Broadway, the "girls" weaving their wares among the tables, gyrating upon the stage about a pole that did not, however, lead up to Heaven.

And then across the Atlantic it was The Quadrant in The Quadrant at Brighton by the sea

where now, yow!, nerves could care less

and even the King's Arms at Oxford

where you read like a brave soldier facing certain death.

And somewhere between all this

au Chat Noir, smile!, Cultur Rapide, take five!,

Shakespeare & Co., where the bard,

beware!, wasn't always there,

and slamming the SLAM, slammed!,

at the The Poetry Society in London,

where poetry is clocked like a metered foot race for fools.

But it was all fun under the sun

and only the moon thought otherwise.

Next the open mic without a mic in Heaven

praising the angels with Sir John Falstaff and sac at your side.

"If I had a thousand sons ..."

Alleluia, Alleluia!

"Bring on the ladies with the convincing thighs!

We want to reinvent language and argue our case before them."

"Better," said the Satirist now satisfied. "Maybe travel is broadening!"

"Amusing," said the Humorist amused.

"Obscure but honest," said the Truth.

"Want some more?" the Preacher now turned Poet asked.

Both Satirist and Humorist nodded that they did and Truth did not object.

The Poet added this:

Traveling Tongue, Twisted, Mine

(Note: For faster reading, the italicized tongue-twiser phrases below may be omitted.)

De Barcelona Sants a Puigcerda,

from Swansea, Wales, to London

Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ...

then onto San Francisco, Shanghai, China,

up the Yangzi River to Nanjing ...

Big black bug bit a big black bear ...

from here to there and inbetween

always beyond beyond,

Can I cook a proper cup of coffee  ...

here to there, there becoming here, to another there, becoming ...

and, oh, all the precious inbetweens.

Don't doubt the doorbell, but differ with the ...

I like the sound, say it again:

De Barcelona Sants a Puigcerda,

Eight gray geese in a green field ...

from Swansea, Wales, to London

then onto San Francisco, Shanghai, China ...

Fine white vinegar with ...

which becomes like flipping pages in a travel guide,

a lot cheaper but not the same.

Grab the groundhog from the glazed ...

In the cafe the rock band plays,

Mozart in the hotel lobby, Vivaldi on the veranda,

How can a clam cram ...

Brahms in the bathroom cheering BMs on,

Chopin in the corridor looking for a metaphor,

Inexplicably mimicking him ...

wondering what it all means, if it means anything at all ...

Jazz in the bar, Simone de Beauvoir under discussion,

I wish to wash my Irish...

the beat upbeat, faster, slower;

then no beat at all,

Jingle jungle jangle ...

the patient on the table, no longer patient, has died

and "life is good" or life is not at all.

Little lucky Luke likes lakes, lucky little luke ...

Somewhere not here but there

a baby cries and a toddler takes its first step,

Monkeys make monopoly ...

toddles, tumbles on the way to there,

no vacation here or there

The Next nest will not necessarily be next to ...

for the youngest of travelers,

life pressing on and on;

Octopi occupy a porcupine's ...

and the taxi arrives at the Jinjiang Hotel

in Shanghai on the Bund

Peter Prangle, the prickly pear picker ....

or Hotel Gambetta in Paris, Cimetiere du Pere Lachasie nearby,

where death is more patient than life;

Queen Catherine wakes the cat, and the cat ...

or Hotel Alba off Rambla in Barcelona

and someone, a real some one, not a virtual virtual no one,

Betty Botter bought some butter but  ...

has arrived at a new there

where here is definitely present;

The thirty-three thieves thought that they  ...

and in the basement bar the discussion is now

about Li Bai or Du Fu or Jean-Paul Satre

Unique New York, Unique ...

or Lili Boulanger or Pierre Boulez

or Kerouac or Hirschman ...

Xylophones exist or so existentialists ...

Sac has cleared the fumes away and life again has become luminous.

"Nice ending," says my traveling companion, Truth. "But what does it all mean?" I was afraid that question would be asked someday. I took a deep breath and said this:

"It means that we are ever on the move, mentally and physically, to learn something new while staying in touch with our deepest feelings and listening for a song; it means ..."

"Okay, okay, you're off the hook," said my traveling companion. "Wanna go down to the cafe and count feedcaps?"

"Sure, if you think we might learn something new ..."

If we shadows ... But all was fun ... have offended ... and only the moon, only the moon ...

By Louis Martin