Travel & Transitioning
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, Quatrain 8
“You can take a photo if you like”,
whispers Ali parting the nicotine
curtain of his teeth during a pause
in the Koranic verses, pin-balling
off the walls of Vely’s 5x5m tomb.
But Baldwin can’t as he delights
in the only moment of his life
when the heaviness of spirit
leaves him: a Sufism liposuction.
“No, its alright Ali, I don’t
need to take a photo, I’ve seen enough”,
intones our hero
as he eases his great bulk
through the tomb’s narrow
aperture; Baldwin, re-birthed
by Haçi Bektas Vely.
“Oh my god Baldwin! Can you believe
this fucking monstrosity?” spurts Roxanne
as they enter the dark age of Knossos,
pushing past the tacky souvenir shops
to the Palace of King Minos, jailor
of the mythic long-horned bastard
child, killed by Theseus.
“Yeah, Arthur Evans didn’t
scrimp on the concrete did he Rox?”
suggests Baldwin surveying
reupholstered red/black columns.
“I can’t believe this place. Do these
fucking idiots think this is authentic?”
retorts Roxanne mock-punching
a copy of a blue porpoise frieze.
“I dunno Rox. But there sure are
a lot tour groups here. C’mon, girl
let’s beat em’ to the throne room!”
Seizing her by the wrist, Baldwin
scoots through columns of clammy
tourists, oblivious to the death-stares
served up by elderly Americans intent
on yet another Kodak conquest.
“Hey, whaddya think ya doing son, barging
in like that? This is my place in the line!”
“The Minoans were here long before you
Americans mate, & we Aussies helped defend
Crete back in WW2, so as the Fonz used to say –
SIT ON IT! EHHHHHH!”
“Don’t you speak to me like that you little smartass!
I got the Silver Star & the Purple Heart at Normandy
don’t you lecture me on saving Europe. I paid my dues
for freedom, I paid for this tour & I’m the first in line!
Got it, boy? BESIDES YOU & THE MINOANS
NEVER HAD THE A BOMB DID YA?”
“No offence Superman, but you can stick your medals & your
NUCLEAR WEAPONS up your snooty yank arsehole!”
“Baldwin! Stop behaving like a child & stop fighting
with a war veteran. NOW! I MEAN IT!” fires
Rox, her face sparkling Minoan ruby.
“Is there a problem here?” asks a plainclothes
security guard; mirrored Raybans reflect
Baldwin’s indefensible beachhead.
“This lard ass tried to push in front of me!” spouts
our veteran, wiping his USS MISSOURI baseball
cap across a cherry glazed & bald-eagled head.
“Is that so sir, then you will have to come back tomorrow
please. Thank you leave at once. GO SIR.NOW!”
Baldwin, mouth ajar, stalks past rows
of bemused Yankee tour groups who
add their ALLIED send offs. Such as;
WAY TO GO JOHN GOODMAN, OR
NN NN NN NN FATMAN, FATMAN,
FATMAN & HEY! THERE GOES THE
Baldwin, trembles with rage
walks out into a labyrinth
of Cretan sunshine – Roxanne
strung out along behind him.
As one, they bull-leap
into the nearest ouzo bar.
Train Song 4
(Indira Ghandi, railway sign, Shimla)