Peter Murphy

Travel & Transitioning

Two Poems


It’s the largest city square in Europe,
the guide book says.

We sit down.

Lurid posters
(mostly flame and shadow)
advertise a feature on
the Bali bombing.

You take the thermos out and,
as we choose pastries,
a beggar


he keeps on

He won’t
go away.

Our only
to the ground.

Tourist and Beggars

Just inside a church in Würzburg
is a plate of coins and, further in,
an angry face
confronts potential
donors and thieves.

We’re aware of him as we walk around
and of a possible encounter
on leaving – which, luckily,
doesn’t happen.

Some beggars watch you right
from the start,
judging who might respond
and when to speak.

One I remember
wipes his eyes
as if it’s all too much.

Another squats
with his eyes closed,
the state of his mind
and body in doubt.

Those who don’t look
stay in the mind most,
particular one who lies
by his hat

As a tourist who doesn’t give,
I notice elderly locals who do
and wonder about myself.

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