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.

-KR


Poetry

The Anti-Chameleon

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


Damn Agendas

God damn it

Everyone and their

agenda

trying to win

want to convince ya


Ugly Mind

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.


Attention

“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?


Curiosity

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.


Schönheit

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


London Bridge

Under the London Bridge

at the same time over.

I took a pause, a little break

now I’m rollin thru the mountains

went down

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?

nothing really

that’s all I got.

you’re different

so we’re the same

can’t you see? we’re polyglots

we have different ways

to speak to these voices

in our head

our thoughts.


my moon

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.


Latest Existentialism

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.


conclusion

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.


missing space

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


India

India, India

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.


Self-Trust

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,

mortal synthesis


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


small talk

conversation

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.


Evolving Retribution

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.


Reminiscing

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.


galliteration

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;

glazed, glancing,

at the grave that she made with her

games, face gaunt and afraid.


Religious Dialect

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

aber trotzdem,

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


Haikus

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.