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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Poems from Europe

I never bothered to type out my poems from my travel journal last year. It was opportune that I recently received a call for poetry and I was forced to finally encode them.

That trip changed my life. I think I can survive anywhere now. I walked in wonder along the streets of Paris with my sister. I visited my two maternal aunts in Nice, one in the quaint countryside of Valbonne and one in the chic district of Cote d'Azur. I marvelled at the magic of misty Venice with my sister. And finally, I was in sepia Florence and grand Rome all by myself in the heart of winter, listening to my voice, my accents, longing for home and yet at the same time enjoying the old occidental world immensely.

I think I wrote around a dozen poems there. Here are some of the more memorable ones.

At the Rue de la Bucherie

The man I asked for directions did not know how
to explain it to me
but he smiled, took my hand
and showed me the way.
Voila! He said, when we got there.
I saw an unexpected view of the Notre Dame.
Entering the bookstore I was looking for,
a moment of bewilderment.
But only for a moment.
The books did not weigh me down or
give me flight.
A few titles illuminated.
Only one or two.
And I knew my journey was complete.
If you know what you are looking for,
the alleys, shelves and strangers
will take your hand and
lead the way.
Everything affirms,
you only need to
decide.

Champs Elysee, November 18, 2003

Picking up a white feather at Valbonne

I've sloughed off parts of myself on
this trip:
two shirts in Saint Paul du Roule
a pair of boots in Nice
and maybe a raincoat or a
sweater in Florence?
My aunt asks if I see Europe
as one big les poubelles.
No, its only peeling
myself to an
indestructible core,
that part that can live
anywhere
and be satisfied,
that part that no
sun or wind
can defeat,
that part that knows
always
what to take
and what
to leave behind.

Valbonne, Nov. 26, 2003

A Shout from the Heart of the Square

The Lion of St. Mark's
soars above the piazza
canopied by a blue winter sky.
And I,
down here among the din
of shopkeepers and tourists
and snooty café waiters,
am roaring with my youth
and my solitude
and the pure joy
of anonymity
and fiery
freedom.

St. Mark's Square, Venice, Nov. 29, 2003

I Have Met Rome

I have met Rome both as beggar
on the street
and king on the throne,
as old man fumbling with words
and young, fearless man
with golden hair and
jubilant voice.

I have met myself in Rome
as woman without
a language,
at a loss for words when,
gripped with emotion
and tears going down
my face at the
site of the Pope,
I realized that no one
translated his words
in any Asian language
despite a hoard
of Japanese pilgrims.

I have met myself as Rome,
victor and defeated,
slave and conqueror.

December 3, 2003

2 comments:

ViVAgLAm! said...

I see you wrote "I have met Rome" on my birthday.
Do you know that at some point, I told myself that I'll have to learn Italian before I'm 30? 4 years after writing that poem, maybe someone could finally help you out with the translation.


(...or maybe not. I think I junked the whole idea of learning Italian the other night while driving home.)

Maan said...

hey justin! i just rememeberd you promised to show me your european trip photos- that was years ago :)

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