Unstoppable

If I drop a dollar bill into every homeless hand

My time here would surely soon expire

My budget blown on generosity

For every sidewalk sleeper

Vietnam vet and shopping bag lady

Not forgetting the drunk crazy old folk

And needle scarred losers

Those shopping cart pushers

With their scant crusty possessions

Crashing out in sight of Obama’s windows

Where there’s no Air B&B availability

Or Couchsurfing opportunities

In the corridors of power

In the White House of Wonders

 

This has the feel of a Gil Scott-Heron ramble

A rapping ranting unstoppable revolution

Televised but never quite happening

Viewed through poverty’s dehumanised eyes

On every park bench and busy street corner

It’s tiring for us well-heeled jet-setting tourists

To step around and blindside this flotsam

That gets in our way and prays on our pockets

 

I eat my breakfast in air-cooled self-conscious

And take a stroll down R St NW

Past diplomatic cars and embassy immunity

The gentrified town houses stand in muted affability

No sign of the dearly unwanted here

No rumblings under filthy cardboard mutterings

There’s nothing here for them

 

So I sit by a disused canal in upmarket Georgetown

With flocks of sparrows flying back and forth

And passenger planes from Reagan International

A double decker bus on the bridge incongruous

I could be back home if it wasn’t for this humidity

And the subtle touches that tell me

This is the land of the free

for those of you who can but afford it.

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So here I am

After months of planning I have finally arrived. Washington DC in all its hot and humid secret service cordoned off monumental majesty. The National Mall underscores the belly of America’s capital city like the canyons and vallies of the west, its monuments and memorials laid out on proud display. Tourists struggle along in their over weighted thirsty hordes buying bottles of ice cold water from street vendors who probably fill them from taps.

I said hi to Mr President and found air-conned art in the National Gallery. Glimpses of Capitol Hill on the way. I find myself looking at the people not the paintings in galleries but I’m too shy to ask if I can take a photo of them. Walking up to the Washington Monument I decide to capture some of them as they capture each other and hope to immortalise their moment. Like the little boy holding out his hand as if to carry the weight of the giant needle with a grin. And the girl in the I love DC T-shirt standing in the WW2 memorial fountain.

My couchsurf host Anna has been so helpful and kind helping me get settled on these first days of my trip. Her apartment is small but even on a camping mat on the floor I have had two great nights sleeping. It helps to be thoroughly tired out, which I am. Traveling and cities certainly help in that respect. Tonight we are seeing a film about forest destruction in the Dominican Republic as part of the DC Environmental Film Festival. In the meantime I am off to another art gallery, this time the Hirshhorn which houses more contemporary work. So I best head off, it’s a 50 minute walk in this 90 degree heat. Water packed.

I shall leave Mr President to sort out or make worse the world’s problems. Crisis? What crisis? I’m on vacation!

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Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyerth 1947. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

 

So this is it

So this is it. The great adventure begins. Trundling along in a National Express bus. Dipping in and out of towns and cities. A midnight mystery tour. I look up and see the strangest thing. The cars on the opposite side of the motorway are all heading in the same direction as me. Maybe it’s a distortion of windows and mirrors. My mind playing late night tricks. But there at the head of the queue a blue light flashing. The Pied Piper police removing the traffic from a scene I’d missed.

Cardiff. Newport. Over the bridge. My ancestors tunneled beneath the Severn’s murky tides and brought the railway and globalisation a step closer. Forgotten heroes. Drunks. Fighters. Chancers. They came and went and left their names in local registers. Births. Marriages. Deaths. Smudged illiterate signings. Distant echoes. 

I’m not a good traveller truth be known. I can’t rest my head and close my eyes and fall asleep just anywhere. If it happens I run the risk of waking in a panic. Unfamiliar surroundings. Yin and yang. Feng shui. Bristol looks busy. Seats filling up. I’m learning to embrace humanity again. Understand that we are all the centre of our own universe. That we all matter. That each and every one of us has the same rights. The seat next to me has been taken. 2.20am. Watching the clock.

Learning to be a traveller again. Being a part of the ebb and flow of humanity. Mixing in. Chillin’ out. Translating nerves into excitement. Thoughts into words. You may read some of them later. I like to steal from conversations and mix the real with the imagined. Somewhere in the middle lies my life in all its poetic wanderings. You may just have stumbled in. Sit back and enjoy the journey.

I Could Be Your Guest (if you want)

Do you wanna host me?
Take me into your home and rest me?
I will be your world weary traveller
A dazed ‘n’ dusty highway reveller
My eyes sore from so many sunsets
Words jumbled in tumble weed alphabets
You could feed me your favorite food
Something authentically you to revive my mood
And fill my belly full of love and laughter
As we share a beer and chocolate for afters
The moon and stars can hear our hearts
Our poetry the panoply as the day departs

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(my two month solo road trip around America starts very soon on 25th July. I’d like to meet fellow poets and friendly people, share food and drink, words and stories. Maybe even perform at open mic nights. Do you have any suggestions? Would you like to host me for a night or two? I’m a very well-mannered Englishman and I’ll wash the dishes or chop the veggies and read to you. I have no idea where the road will take me. Send me an invite and I’ll come find you. This photo was taken on a recent holiday to Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. But it could be anywhere. Sunsets are so beautiful – at their very best when shared)

you can find more of my poems by clicking on the next word -> here