Poems of a Temporary Traveler
From January 17 until August 5 of 2018, I traveled through 21 countries and found a home in Graz, Austria, unquestionably changing my life. From a small town in Indiana, I had only dreamt of traveling this far outside of my Midwestern bubble. However, in the summer of 2016, I was given the chance to spend ten days in Uganda and study in Germany. These two experiences gave me a thirst to see and experience what the world has to offer. Often, travel is described as somewhat of a romantic, eye-opening process that is what everyone should aspire to do eventually; when, in fact, it is something entirely different. Travel is more than romanticism and tourism, and all of these other -isms. When done right, travel is concretely a chance to interact with people who have fundamentally different perspectives than you and take advantage of opportunities that you would never have considered otherwise. Less concretely, travel is a chance to find out the latent inner workings of who you are as a person by suddenly and precisely severing the link between your environmental safety net and yourself. By doing this, people can discover raw emotions, passions, beliefs, and skills. Nevertheless, these few chances to step outside of what was comfortable to me challenged me incessantly, and throughout the past year, I have even grown to enjoy them. Life is about overcoming obstacles, and if you don’t have any, you aren’t doing enough.
During my time in Graz I wrote, and wrote, and then wrote some more. I filled around 300 pages of notebook paper with my experiences; from the diverse and bustling streets of New York to England, Scotland, and Ireland, where both the people and buildings seem to be filled with stories. From Ireland to Munich, and from Munich to the Black Forest, speaking as a foreigner in another’s native tongue. Onto Austria, where I fell in love, and discovered a new home surrounded by Baroque architecture, curious students, and mountain views. To the stories I can tell of my journeys through the Balkans and Eastern Europe that tested me sometimes more than I had ever been tested before. To backpacking through Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, learning to embrace solitude, push through physical discomfort, and how to draw energy from beauty in one’s surroundings. These are the experiences that shape my story.
Poetry is often a powerful voice of the inner workings of my mind. But for me, it can also sometimes just be a more beautiful way to describe what I see or feel. No matter the route it takes, poetry paints a magnificent picture of someone’s perspective. I hope mine can reveal something.
He slipped out of his backdoor
Avoiding the others residing there.
As he watched the sky pour
His mind drifted forth.
From one thought to the next
His heartbeat quickened.
He must respond to the written text,
but smoke‘s drifting ‘cross the back deck.
Soft, quiet roar. Colors changing, the anti-chameleon.
Changing moods to perplex his feelings.
Addiction is Cool
Never say it but I think it
Why do I do it, there’s a few different reasons
Never spoken but subconsciously thought
The independence of the feeling that comes
The however miniscule, hiding, self-hatred
The attention of others when you indulge
The need for something other than my thoughts
It goes for everything that is a distraction
Put it down and you know that it’s made a difference
There’s a spot in your consciousness, there, residing
Nagging at the tail end of the underbelly of every motive
a reminder of that thing that makes you feel right
God damn it
Everyone and their
trying to win
want to convince ya
took some time
to write my thoughts,
in the form of abstract expressionism
out my mind and into the plot.
Read the story at your own cost.
“smile more, pay attention”
“your head is in the clouds, pay attention”
“tell me what you feel, give me attention”
I don’t have an answer for you,
where is my attention?
Feed it; explore it, in every way
Don’t let the fear of failure delay
The distractions, the resistance, made in your mind
Only set you back further, back in decline
The opposite of curious is content and sublime
Don’t let the negatives fail you this time.
ich würde sagen, nirgends freut mich
aber was stimmt, ist dass ich weiß nicht,
was genau macht mich froh
und das ist problematisch
weil wenn ich alle neu probieren
manche geht schlimm
manche geht fließend
manche freut mich
manche freut sich
und das geht schon, das passiert
ich soll zufrieden sein
ich bin glücklich
Under the London Bridge
at the same time over.
I took a pause, a little break
now I’m rollin thru the mountains
to the lake
now I’m driftin’ thru the clouds
in my head, I’m complex
on the outside maybe not?
what’s the deal?
that’s all I got.
so we’re the same
can’t you see? we’re polyglots
we have different ways
to speak to these voices
in our head
she was sitting there, smirking
I was sitting there, working
on what I’d say next.
she was laying there, describing
the clouds in the sky
as I laid there, wondering
how we’d gotten so high
as she finished her description
of the man in the clouds
the face above me showed appeared
a jubilant, bellowing clown
my face glowed at her discovery
as the clouds above me
when you find a moon
to brighten the clouds in your mind
take out a long rope and throw it into the sky.
Is everything connected?
Who are we to tell?
Exactly the ones who should be asking,
Afraid of that place, hell.
Not a damn thing gonna come from wondering,
Quiet your mind down. But if there’s a question,
there’s an answer,
metamorphosis of knowledge
from a frown.
I hear what you’re saying
but do I believe?
oh how I wish I could see on her sleeve.
I smell your perfume and I see your dark locks
but sometimes I feel I’ve been put in a box.
I ask myself questions but what can I say?
the answer will still be the same today.
I’m hungry for something
keep searching up and down
throw the mind around it
lost to be found
envelope the masses
pick yourself out
show them your love
conquer the doubt
you captured me, stunned.
what say the cattle who gave their hide
to be sunned?
the leather on this book is as brown as that mud
and the skin of the man who interrupted cow’s cud.
word on the street is the cows are crossing.
the kids toss the ball back and forth, mocking.
the one turns the pages and looks straight ahead.
a car runs the intersection without lights, cow dead.
awkward times these are in my head
fighting with thoughts best left unsaid
clawing at doubt, relentlessy
tearing at strenghts, religiously
too many things going on right now
too many musts without any hows
but how can I change this anomaly?
how can I trust myself responsibly?
Her Majesty, Lady Bug
cigarettes under the tree
in a hidden nook
the ladybug on my hand
beginning her book
she reads a few lines,
pausing for suspense
drowning me in our complex,
questions for the map
looking at that map on the wall
a visual representation set in the hall
syllables taking part in the sentences of life
separated in this case by fading black lines
nations and states in a fury drawn down
with citizens in each, living life now
looking quizically at that map on the wall
wondering if there’s room as I stan@d in the hall
with a stranger
I met on the street.
leading off with
a question for
the man with smelly
feet. asked him why
he’d rather die
than speak with me right
there. leaving now with
a frown left by
his amused stare.
Chess Me, Europe
Chess pieces out of reach
Austrian Volksmusik on repeat
The setting is now complete.
Everyone, it’s time to eat.
We’re having Spaetzle
In the kitchen of conversation
Sitting in my proverbial melting pot
in this kitchen of collecting thought.
Feet on the table, we’re all in our head.
Tomorrow if we’re not here,
then we may all be dead.
Look for a way to stand out, but looking at that attempt with a second glance
gives me a chance to see further than my past;
I re-examine the remnants of my actions once made to draw a vastly
different conclusion than I had previously self-portrayed.
The thing about memories is the repetitive mistake
of looking over the aspects that made yourself great.
The road blocks and caution signs that got in your way.
The things that shaped you, then & today.
Doing it to get the mind flowing
As he’s sitting by the river.
Inhaling fully, with a grunt and a shiver.
Combing over the past half year
with a needle and a spoon.
looking out over the water
its presence lit up by the moon.
Song of Hesitation
My words come out happenstance
Without an assessment,
a second glance,
and I, fail to see
the flaws in me
because then I won’t turn out what I want to be.
Cobblestone in Graz
come into the street
sit down on the ground
Look ahead into the lights
the glowing lights form a frown.
You return it with a smile
but all you get is a nod.
Receiving the empty favor,
greetings’ means are broad.
grappling ghosts, in and out
glaring, ghastly, never foreseen
gagging in the garage and guzzling gas
gasping at the gap in the glittering gate
now, we’re being played;
now, his girl’s eyes are crazed;
at the grave that she made with her
games, face gaunt and afraid.
Worried about all of it
taking up my time
Sweatin’ the small stuff
all spread out along the line.
Not givin’ a damn what
you all think
I’ve got a brain, it’s mine
Only one who can control
this here fuckin’ mind.
Well if we’re walkin’
and we’re talkin;
I can probably tell you why
your view just doesn’t hold
the same weight as mine
when it comes to the guy in the sky.
He’s a fast talkin’, low blow duckin’
omniscient son of a gun.
He’s got the right
to keep me up at night
if he truly loves his son
I said, this is personal;
it’s between me and him.
We got a few things to go over,
subtle hacks and mind tricks.
You ain’t got nothin’
to say to me
that matters right now, presently
so why the hell you actin’
like the theological mad hatter
when all I want is mental autonomy?
Quick & Distracted & Then Not
Getting quick & distracted too
is when I realize what I have to do
Write things down and go for a walk,
sit on the grass and get lost in a talk.
We got high so we wouldn’t feel low
Dealing discontentment a temporary blow
Looking at the sun with our own two feet,
free will letting us bask in our defeat.
Oh, why do you feel uneasy?
Oh my, why don’t you let yourself breathe?
You’re giving your mind a reason
to give up and retreat.
Working at the table, and looking through the crowd
of overstated labels, so unexplainably proud
Pouring it all out for the humans
taking the words right out my mouth.
What I Do and Don’t Want To
List of things you need to complete,
the same damn playlist
shuffling on repeat.
Mounds of books laying on the table.
Try to climb in bed but I’m stopped
although I‘m able.
Tripping over all the clutter around me,
trying to look outside and see
what clarity looks like to those who are free.
I’m Out, Talk to Me
Running into the future
one last final human shout
letting go of the things
that gave me what life is about
dropping out on the homestretch
the same old comfort is hell
what do you know about politics?
Let’s talk about religion, bitch
I’m working on a question now,
to ask it is my final wish.
Poem for my Austria
Ich habe meine Schuhe
auf dem Teppich gelegt
bist du das Beste für mich?
Ich bin immer echt müde
das sag ich ehrlich
und manchmal ist es schwer
du redest mit mir ständig
ich sehe dich schön wenn die Sonne scheint,
aber wenn die Sonne versteckt,
ist es immer nicht leicht
ich weiß noch nicht
wo ich geh von hier hin
es gibt ein stressiges Weg
und es macht kein Sinn
für mich zu verlieren
was wichtig ist
meine Liebe Frau
und meinen Geist
für etwas dunkles
My Distant Assessment of America’s Racial History
White Swan not for sale
Black Swan came, got left behind
Big Swan did nothing.
Budapest: 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Aroma fills me up sweet,
juicy baby, play those cards
take me out to eat.