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Travel poems

Sea Witch

Wild curls drop to his forehead In his lithe muscularith he waits at the Antiguan beachside for the last-chance beginner to crew his Hobie Cat * No fly to his web, I avoid the seaman's unsettling good looks, but. yearning to learn as the sun slips I take his teaching daysail when he asks, “ Wanna pick up a lick of speed wid me, hunnie ? ” Sizing the weight as suitable ballast We sail the Catamaran out from the harbour into the open sea. His toe hold to rope to steer the rudder he uncleat's the sailcloth's sheet. Luffed to billow the Spinnaker sail catches and powers through the headwinds And, cruising now in stable speed he sculpts my slight bulk While talking of Guadeloupe and that hope to find a beautiful chiquita ; Pulling the harness strapping my ballast. hung to the jib and trapeze, like some piece of meat to smoke; Teetering at the ripple of speed the Catamaran rises like his slow smile to this calculated risk as he shouts to me, against the wind, " Lean out at the bow ! " Salt spray to my Medusa hair We rise in the cresting sea The craft expelling its primal scream ; A figurine to Vitruvian wheel - A high queen to the prow - We freewheel a cartwheel into the bay; © Mary T Duggan *Spinnaker - Small bow sail sheet to sail off-wind. *Hobie Cat - Catamaran. * Prow and bow - frontside of a sail craft. © Mary T Duggan

The Burja

Like some undead creature, The Burja wind In it's mythical force And dark anticipation Climbs the Balkan walls ; Hurtles towards the Adriatic, North-East corridor Batters at our old Istrian doors - As we clatter the cobblestones. Take shelter in stone-home house Against the boomerang bellow mutating and translating The Banshee shriek Into the Istrian tongue. The untamed curse of its spindly fingers whiplashing its heathen revenge Scattering the dustbin Shattering the terracotta While we batten the storm doors And it throws hurtful objects down on the unbeliever before the Burja wind In night-grave quiet Procrastinates… Thinks a while, as our eyes dart at the slightest shiver ; The slightest noise - Sense the breeze, jiggling the roofs jagged rock-weights Loosens the pantiles as the savage lungs pick up again © Mary T Duggan

The Tortoise Walk

See the scrubland rise. Become a mountainside. See the sluggish creature haul itself along Under the late slipping sun. The lazy eye, checking all the while, at the dried husk of a belly-slit snake now rendered safe Unlike those vicious spikes of asparagus, while the tortoise lumbers on, past fronds of silent Orchids To cautiously claw through a Milky Way of starbright Oregano, The reptile head, this way and that, under an old fruit-ladder, set against a scrub tree. Placed there, as if for the perfect view few will see - The plunge of crystal water into mirror pools. © Mary T Duggan

Marsden Grotto - Newcastle

We descend within the rickety miners’ lift, Into the dark cavernous architraves Of ceilings, clawed from immemorial stone The edifice, spewed to crumbling overflow - The primordial mouth, A reach of shingled shore, Creating a stark contrast to our southern notions that Newcastle, and the North are just a blot of industry This vast vista surprises An open sea view, Forces our eyes to recognise the scale of its monstrous cliff face Broken only by that break of blue, The spectacle emulates solitude but is all Bedlam here Where the pock-marked piebald gull, gathers noisily - To ski the thermal. To litter the sky - Looks from its gnarled nooks Warning the unsettled visitor, “Storms a’ coming ! ” In mimick of nature’s noisy whetstone below That thrashes in flow ; Carves the isolated thumb from the mainlands’ hand Where the Kittiwake's stand And stake their ancient claim, Like sea, and rock. © Mary T Duggan

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