With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Come take a walk with me down this street:
(In England it would be called The High Street,
In this town it is named Franklin)
The sun is a hole in the sky.
Afternoon light pours out
R. Stiltzkin’s (formerly Danziger’s)
Where you can buy the cutest little red and white mushrooms
Carved in Bavaria from wood
Imported from the merlinesque jungles of Malaya.
Pause, and listen to the sound of camel bells,
The jangle of earrings hanging from the Afro-covered
Head of the beauty walking a bit ahead.
At the Varsity
The Israeli version, a musical, of
With Bob Dylan playing Humphrey Bogart,
Sitting and strumming on the bench
Next to the alley
Where the flower ladies have their stalls.
Turn and walk down the alley
To the square where you can rent a bicycle
And then left, down the first dusty alley
To the Mustang Hash Shop
Managed by the local government
Because in Kathmandu
It’s not illegal yet.
The US Commissary, however, sells
Scotch to diplomats and journalists
And now the ante-diluvian king
Has been hooked on
White Horse and White Label
And the CIA has outlawed the hookah.
(The tapes are running out
And the oil-sheiks are buying Minnesota Mining)
And all the king’s men
Cannot bring back the unicorn again.
In this town the unicorn
Is the scapegoat.
The Sign of the Unicorn, however,
Is the best pub in the village.
There you can still get Bavarian beer
Steeped in Siberia,
Just like you used to get at the
Coffee Shop, where travellers
Young and old
Tell tales of the Orient
And the music of the hour
Outside, bathed in the warm afternoon sun rays
The donkeys quietly munch their oats
Leaning up against the red brick wall,
Selling copies of the daily paper.
The best corner (if you’re selling papers)
Is the one near the ice-cream shop
Because all the people come out of there smiling
Licking away at raspberry-crunch
Savouring the woodsy flavour of the cone
Made of re-cycled rice-paper vellum.
Step carefully here, watch for puddles
Of melted ice cream
And piles of camel dung, because
There’s a new caravan in town.
The bazaar is choked with traffic
As peoples of all colours, speaking many tongues
(Indeed some have come from such a distance
They require interpreters, you can pick up
A little extra money that way)
They have come from miles around
To bargain and buy rare porcelains and carpets
Woven by hand
Each thread a parameter in the warp of time.
And they come down from the hills
With their mules heavily laden
To buy transistor radios
On which they hear strange music
Made by a people who live in a world
The hill people only recognize by the helicopter
And the guns and dollars which
Buy their crop.
On the radio you can hear music
Advertising and announcements
Classifieds (horse lost in research triangle)
And intimations of
War to come.
Which means that at the following tone
(the ting of the margin bell on this machine)
It is six o’clock, and time for dinner.
I cook my own food in this town
Because I’m a stranger in this community.
Here the air is full of
Shadows and images
Some of them yours
Some of them mine.
Let us share food and drink
Each as explorers in a strange town
Where our caravan has paused for refreshment.
As I pass time, waiting for the kettle to boil,
(poor Uncle Albert, did he ever get the message?)
Let us play a game of
The first Question:
where am i?