City Dweller

I am bad at being on holiday

Perhaps it’s the lack of purpose

At home, at work, I have routine

Things to achieve, means of measuring

The worth of my own time and how

I have chosen to spend it.  Here?

Not so much.  I measure the days

In bug bites, crumbs, accumulating

From unhealthy breakfasts in odd corners.

By gas miles trying to locate a bin

That takes mixed recycling.

I am stumped by the lack of a

Sewing needle to mend favourite

Shirts and skirts torn by errant handles

On rented bathroom doors

Skilled fingers itch in their impotence

Requiring a shopping trip – my own

Personal hell – to a mall where

Every single security gate is triggered

By my keys, the zipper on my purse,

Or some such similar nonsense.

I am forced to empty my pockets

Try to explain in broken sentences

Of a language I do not pretend to speak

While you accompany our child

Whose toilet training seems to err

In the climate, to a gendered bathroom

With me staring down a twenty-something

Minimum wager with an axe to grind

On a Thursday afternoon.

Nothing to find – too bad!

Better luck catching the

Next middle-aged mom

Who may feel some sort of

Vicarious thrill swiping fifty cent

Plastic merchandise – none of which

Can easily be concealed

In a purse or a pocket.

I hate holidays.  This kind of crap

Doesn’t find me at home.

In an environment that I can

Kid myself remains

Within my control.

I sweat, try not to scratch

At my bites, my sunburn,

Recall I had to borrow

Your deodorant

As mine had failed

To cope with the local temperatures.

We keep being promised rain.

But such a luxury

Fails to materialise.

Night after sleepless night

Trying to ignore the free concert

The rooster and pack of dogs that feel

Some need to duet at the crack of dawn.

My eye twitching at the

Unwelcome whine of a mosquito

Hovering in the tepid darkness

Waiting to feed on this

Overheated foreign delicacy

Reaching for pharmaceutical reassurance

That the never-ending irritation

Will have an expiry date.

The Anti-Social Conscience

Fear of flying
In the Erica Jong sense
Is not wrong – even for hardcore feminists
We are all intimidated sometimes
When faced with the prospect
Of successful seduction
In an post-AIDS era.

Fear of flying
Bugs with the power to infect
The next generation with long-term consequences
Is a logical response to a natural phenomenon
So we avoid the tropics, where possible
And wear trousers, long-sleeves
And poisoned perfume.

Fear of flying
To exotic climes
With local customs
Hostile to strangers
Would appear an acceptable
Response to the xenophobic
Fury of others – so unlike our own.

Fear of flying
Seems perfectly reasonable –
A socially acceptable phobia for a reduced carbon footprint
Unless, of course the sufferer happens to be
The passenger in the next seat (adjacent to me)
Quaking in their Birkenstocks,
Passing gas, and sweating cobs.