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Patrick Pfister


Trapped mile high in October snow
a motorcycle Michigan-bound.
Dew crystals glint on brake cables
while blizzards swirl heaven.

A magnet, the glacial earth
pulls ice needles from sagging eaves;
trees rise upright, proud
yet branches droop.

A dream run out of gas --
no money, scant hope
nowhere to roll
except down.

Frostbite fingers clamp the throttle
and rear wheel fishtails slush;
eyes squeeze
ice-pellet tears

down off the Rockies into Kansas
long flat straight rolling
all the way back
to autumn.

Thai Roadhouse

Drop of holy water on a tile floor
still amid the piercing quiet,
incense roadhouse in monsoon valley
runs a river toward a deeper sea:

a pearl, a dewdrop, a trembling --
plumed waves flood the tide

Tramp the path of pilgrim feet
by the alley of shattered molds,
dharma-chanting monks
raise alms bowls void of gold:

candled, flowered, quiescent --
flames blossom in petaled prayer

Riau Archipelago

Boondock eyes bigger than bulb roots
gaze down jungle jetty
past caged orangutan and jailed peacock
at longboat ferry Batam-bound.

Chocolate children squeeze melted dreams
as passengers embark.
Callused fingers grasp gunwales
and longboat chugs into rainforest maze

where angel egrets glide
through mangrove swamps
past raja palaces and sultan pavilions --
bouncing logs bump our bow.

Vines, fungus, coconut decay --
on the quay Kubu nomads
chew sticky rice and
Islamic veils screen secret smiles.

First mate scans the emerald flux:
sampans to starboard, pirogues to port.
Malaria pirates prowl the shoals but
our propeller churns a lovely wake.

In Batam we board the Hydrafoil:
air-con lounge and ice-cream machine.
Across the Straits of Melaka --
one hour more to Singapore.

©2007 by Patrick Pfister

Patrick Pfister is the author of two books: Pilgrimage: Tales from the Open Road, and Over Sand & Sea. His stories have been selected for many “Travelers’ Tales” anthologies, including Best Travel Writing 2007. His poetry appears in The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Slow Trains, and Jerseyworks. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.

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