Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Far Away Places

  1. #1

    Far Away Places

    The places I love the most, few tourists ever see or even know about.
    These are the far away places, not reached by traveling lonely, forgotten roads,
    but places inhabited by a different sort of life, often fixed in tradition.
    Those who know them will whisper their stories to the outside world,
    but otherwise, they are often overlooked, or few go through the expected trouble to visit.
    Those who do are rewarded. As a rule, if you are a foreigner, they will be kind.
    Make effort to learn a bit of language, and you’ll find such travel not difficult at all.
    For those who make a habit of such journeys,
    I hope we can appreciate the unique beauty that each new destination has to offer,
    because without the joy of discovery,
    or even revisiting with a new perspective,
    what joy can there be at all?

    Some thirty hours by connecting flights from Washington DC,
    Jakarta is a splatter of skyscrapers and malls, slums and festering canals.
    Like the pungent smell of fermented fruit, it requires a particular taste to appreciate.
    There is little you wouldn’t find here in the way of commerce,
    and, for an expatriate,
    the cost of living is startlingly cheap.
    You ignore the mixture of exhaust fumes that coat everything and streets are crowded.
    People from all over the islands come here searching for a richer life.
    For me, the village is where I’d be happiest,
    a small, seaside fishing town, lapped to sleep by the sound of the waves,
    coaxing gently into the early morning waters for trolling.

    There are other places too; Banda Aceh, for example,
    is just another hour north by plane.
    Outsiders are uncommon, excepting a few hard-core divers
    and disaster relief volunteers. A tragic city, Banda Aceh,
    setting on the rugged nose of Sumatra,
    famous for the wave of anguish broadcast around the world.

    It has been years since the city was scoured.
    The shattered homes and hotels, the rusted, overturned cars, and the churned bodies
    have all been swept up and carried off.
    But there are still some signs of its enormity, almost forgotten,
    on the outskirts of the renovated and renewed.
    Past the market stalls with sinewy beef backs hanging in the open air,
    and twenty minutes down a washed out road, is a rusty container ship
    lying across a weedy pitch,
    three miles from the coast. Its long flat bed, faded tower,
    and the empty catacombs of the hull are now a playground for unwatched children
    and adventurous teens. It lies quietly in the ever growing grass
    as if this was always its maker’s true intention.

    It seems unreal to imagine them,
    tens of thousands pulled from the wreckage, half buried in mud,
    their stiff bodies piled high into the backs of trucks, carried off,
    laid into wide pits and buried again.
    The survivors never learn who’s where,
    but just come to the closest of the grassy lee's whenever they feel the tug at their hearts.

    How had it been that day?
    Many must have seen it from a distance, carrying their sacks of nutmeg and rice
    up from the docks,
    and on the horizon it can barely be discerned.
    First it is a gentle hill on a plane. As it rises,
    it sucks at the corners of the sea,
    revealing bare sand inside the seawall,
    Or perhaps
    broken coral, jagged and white. It rises,
    curling its hood over the morning sun.

    It must be terrible, the rushing awareness.
    Some just drop their arms and stare,
    but most run, maybe scrambling to the top of a coastal palm.
    Some seek shelter in nearby buildings, yanking the door closed,
    barring it with their bodies.
    Others just dash off, not knowing where.
    It comes in first with white foam, rolling up the piers,
    thumping ships like thimbles in its caress, and doubling over,
    It stamps the earth. Miles away,
    In their homes, in their cars, they are swept off with never even a gaze.
    Mad, sudden, and uncaring,
    it runs through the streets,
    through the doorways, rushing over the earth,
    returning everything to the primordial.

    It doesn’t take long to explore these sites at leisure before heading on
    to the next destination. There is an off shore island
    known for diving. The seabed’s nearby are rich with underwater canyons,
    A volcano, and a number of wrecks.
    A ferry leaves in late afternoon.

    On the road to the port, on the corner where the tarmac turns onto a causeway
    that leads out to sea,
    is a mosque painted cloudy white, with a chocolate kiss top
    and the up reaching arm of a minaret.
    It is one last reminder. When everything here lay splintered from back to front,
    This mosque alone remained perfectly intact, although stained
    by what the sea passed through it.
    I never did see a photo, but can imagine
    its importance as a symbol. You can
    still see its tower from the causeway’s end
    where one waits to catch the boat.

    Have I been lucky? It’s hard to say,
    only that anything I see or touch
    has an aura of mystery about it
    and that I have somehow been able to pack my bag
    and board whatever means I may to get here,
    and when the call comes, I board again.
    Last edited by lallison; 04-22-2010 at 11:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Something's gotta give PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    8,742
    Blog Entries
    1
    I love the fluidity of this, the feeling that I've taken a seat next to a trustworthy, confiding stranger, but I don't think I got the hang of the sort of place you had in mind:

    Quote Originally Posted by lallison View Post
    The places I love most, few tourists see or even know about.
    They are far away places, not reached by traveling lonely, unpaved roads
    That reference to "lonely, unpaved roads" which do NOT take one there appears to contradict the fact that few tourists visit them, since the alternative to "lonely, unpaved roads" must be well-paved, frequently travelled roads?

  3. #3
    Thanks for the feedback PM. This one is more journal entry than poem. I'm trying to develop the voice of a first person narrator, someone preparing the reader for a bit of an adventure story.

    One of the principal ideas I was hoping to get across was that there are a lot of fascinating, beautiful places in the world that even have, yes, paved streets, but don't have much of a tourist industry because they are, perhaps, too remote to easily be reached or simply don't have the nice hotels and other infrastructure that many of us look for. On the other hand, I spent last week cruising around remote East Java in a 4WD and, it's true, there are a lot of far away places where the roads aren't paved. Some have rivers flowing across them, actually. So I went through and edited, looking for contradictions like the one you pointed out.

    The great weakness in this piece is, as you said, virtually no concrete details. The places I'm trying to talk about can't be pictured at all. Well, maybe a tad at this point. Maybe if i wrote a couple more stanzas that are more descriptive it could be improved.

    Many thanks.

  4. #4
    I added a number of stanzas to this and would appreciate any critical feedback you could give me. I know its a bit long now, but hopefully more enjoyable that way.

  5. #5
    Something's gotta give PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    8,742
    Blog Entries
    1
    Indeed, it is virtually an entirely new poem, with one very teling detail after another. I was especially struck by these lines:

    Quote Originally Posted by lallison View Post
    Because without the joy of discovery, or even revisiting with a new perspective,
    What joy can there be at all?
    and this:

    Banda Aceh, for example, is just an hour by plane.
    Outsiders are uncommon, with the exception of a few hard-core divers
    And disaster relief volunteers. A tragic city, Banda Aceh, setting on the rugged nose of Sumatra
    and this:

    And twenty minutes down a washed out road
    Is a rusty container ship, lying across a weedy pitch,
    Three miles from the coast. Its long flat bed, faded tower,
    And the empty catacombs of the hull are now a playground
    For unwatched children and adventurous teens. It lies quietly
    In the ever growing grass as if this was always its maker’s true intention.
    and:
    The survivors never learn
    Who’s where, but just come to the closest
    Of the grassy lees whenever they feel the tug at their heart.
    and:
    It must be terrible, the rushing awareness.
    Some just drop their arms at their sides and stair,stare
    But most run, maybe scrambling to the top of a coastal palm.
    Foam, rolling up the peers,piers
    Thumping ships like thimbles in its caress,
    And doubling over, it stamps the earth. Miles away,
    In their homes, in their cars, they are swept off with never even a gaze.
    Mad, sudden, and uncaring, it runs through the streets, through the doorways,
    Rushing over the earth, returning everything to the primordial.
    Extraordinary poem, extraordinary acts of focussed observation - and empathy.

  6. #6
    Still, on a chalk plateau Bar22do's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Tongue Imbroglio
    Posts
    2,624
    I needed some time to absorb the density of this poem, overflowing like untamed waters... I like it and "returning all to the primordial" is strong and poignant. Thanks a lot and best rgds - Bar

  7. #7
    Thanks for the great feedback! I just now added that last few stanzas and feel like the thing is finally finished.

  8. #8
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5,404
    Blog Entries
    8
    Hi lallison,

    Well, if you haven't already got one, I'd say that this offering would guarantee you a job with the Loney Planet. It is extrememly well observed, as has been pointed out in previous replies, and it reads very well. you paint a very vivid picture indeed.

    H
    Oh no, not again...

  9. #9
    Thanks Hawk, it does sound a lot like a travel guide book would, doesn't it. Maybe I need to create a place for the narrator to be sitting and telling this to someone, a bit like Conrad worked it in Heart of Darkness.

  10. #10
    Registered User paperleaves's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    In a garage with books and mice.
    Posts
    448
    Blog Entries
    36
    This is beautiful--a miniature travelogue in prose--something rare and exquisite. I'll give feedback later, thanks for sharing


    love
    Kate
    "real
    loneliness
    is not
    necessarily
    limited to
    when
    you are
    alone
    "
    -C. Bukowski

  11. #11
    Thanks, ya'll are the best!

Similar Threads

  1. Etruscan Places
    By LLItaly in forum Lawrence, D.H.
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 10-14-2009, 08:35 PM
  2. Places You’d Most Like to Visit
    By Neely in forum General Chat
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 08-18-2009, 12:44 PM
  3. favorite places to read
    By libernaut in forum General Literature
    Replies: 29
    Last Post: 08-02-2009, 10:01 PM
  4. Places to submit articles
    By Saisha in forum General Literature
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-14-2009, 11:37 PM
  5. Places of Worship
    By Madhuri in forum Religious Texts
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 05-01-2007, 06:28 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •