Poetry | Travels


© 2010, 2016 by Vernon Miles Kerr


When a provincial is called upon to travel

His luggage includes the place from whence he came.

He drags it along and holds it up as a ruler

Against every novel thing he sees.

But that’s not bad.

It serves to avoid confusion

It makes him understand the uniqueness

Of places he visits.


For the Californian,

San Francisco comes to mind .

But not so hilly,


But bricks, bricks, red bricks.


We’d have ‘em too except for ours

Being shattered and culled in epic quakes.


And so many Irish Pubs

And other old stuff.

“Benjamin Franklin was born on this spot.”

“Benjamin Franklin was baptized in this church.”

“Paul Revere rode through here.”

“Here, Alexander Graham Bell called for Mr. Watson.”

Those far-away mythical places in the Weekly Reader

Are real, afterall.


And there are the Red Sox.

You don’t have to see them to sense their presence:

They are on everyone’s lips:

The Red Sox doing battle against the Green Monster…

And against the Yankees, them damn’d Yankees.


St. Louis


What on Earth can compare to the Arch?

No superlative is adequate.

Nothing prepares you for that first glimpse,

No travelogue, no picture in the Nat. Geo.

Soaring above the downtown skyscrapers,

Its satin-silver face reflects

The sky and clouds,

And the river,

That Old Man River.

Your first thoughts are

Who conceived this;

Who planned this;

Who approved it?

How many minds had to meld

For a city to accomplish this?

Millenia later archaeologists will theorize,

“Something significant happened here.”

Yes, but not so much “Westward Expansion,”

But more:  human cooperation.


I stop at a signal light

And wait while a tidalwave of red-shirted fans

Crosses and flows toward Busch.

“Gotta support those Cards.”

One senses in St. Louis

A spirit of community, of egalitarian concern

For everyone’s pleasure, everyone’s edification:

The famed Zoo has no admission fee

Neither does the Art Musum

Nor the Science Museum

There are even free seats at

Forrest Park’s Summertime Opera.


When the project ends, I head West on 70.

An elastic memory stretches out behind;

It won’t break.

Someday it will yank me back to St. Louis.



Quirky, busy little Boulder

With its sprawling, yellow brick university

And Nineteenth Centry business district,

Spread out at the foot of the Flatirons.

Those jutting stone slabs  seem to grow out of Boulder

Not visa-versa.

They  thrust upward beckoning the hikers,

Promising untold vistas higher up in the Rockies,

That backbone of North America.


The buskers and hippies along Pearl Street’s Walkway

Chat and snigger at the weird plain  people

From places like Des Moines or Bakersfield.

The visitors gasp at the neon sign advertising

A basement weed dispensary.

They playfully push each other toward the steps.

Most resist, but some descend

With a feigned resignation

And a hidden smile.



japan2013_day5_11She is more than huge, she is blatantly contradictory.

She’s American-ish, but Japanesey;

Familiar but exotic;

Traditional but wildly avant garde.;

Savoring but guzzling;

Giddily young but staidly elderly.

Near Shinjuku station it’s girls in blue jeans

And tiny kimono-clad matrons popping into Starbucks.

This immigrant from Seattle sits amid metallic, glitzy structures

And Times Square shaming electric signage.


There is no downtown but a dozen downtowns

Strung like beads around the  circling Yamanote Line.

japan2013_day5_06We jump on and off like locals, sampling each one.

Ikebukuro, Ueno,  Okachimachi, Akihabara .


Later the bullet train pulls into Shin-Yokohama,

bullettrain_kyotoscenes_2013_022-1Long, low and unapologetically futuristic.

It’s the 6:00 o’clock bound for Kyoto.

We grab a Mc Donalds before boarding.


A few blocks away, in a tranquil  garden

A herron dips its beak

And sends the moon gyrating .