Posted by: John Looker | 8 February, 2014

A Little Museum of Great Journeys


A Little Museum Of Great Journeys 

Fruitful trip, despite the rush as usual.
Short nights of course. Meetings and meals, and multiple
calls from the office. But with time to spare before check-in,
now at last she can change these shoes, go sight-seeing,
find that local museum of the trade in spices:
nutmeg and cloves, and lands undreamt of, with displays
on medieval merchants with weather-worn features
riding the steppes or sailing through tropical waters.
Quickly she redirects her driver, and presently
‘market trends’ and ‘heads of agreement’,
‘quality paradigms’ and ‘poles of investment’,
are pleasingly
fading as her mind unwinds …
… among caskets and pouches, parchments, … and daydreams too of maharajas on elephants
and sultans in their perfumed tents …
© John Stevens 2014

This almost concludes my series of poems under the collective title “The Silk Road” which began with Frequent Flyers – see the post at:

I shall post the final poem  – “Homeward Bound” – in a couple of weeks.


  1. Reiteration of threads as they begin to come together here….the exigencies of modern corporate work weaving in and out with a hunger for something more sensuous, more beautiful…..the romantic weaving in and out with the savage and dangerous…the human individual in and out with the societal, the conventional…the present time weaving in and out with the past, and maybe some foreboding for the future…inside and outside…so many colors and textures to delight, in this tapestry you are weaving….


  2. That’s a considerable relief to me, Cynthia, because I’ve been aiming towards these interwoven themes but can never tell if I’m getting there. If the series seems to be moving in the right direction to you then I’m more than happy because I respect your judgement.
    (By the way, I’m still brooding on how to improve something in an earlier poem on which you made some pertinent remarks. I’ll get there.)


  3. What do I make of this piece of the weave, John? I wonder. We first have a sense of danger, anticipation that all may not go well. Then we have the initial dinner meeting where everything is going to plan, but maybe not so much danger. Now we have a lady escaping business and going to the wildness of the bazaar where sultans in perfumed hats and elephants are mixed with caskets and the symbolism they bring. In the midst of the sensuousness there is only the slightest hint of something untoward in the midst of silk and the strangeness that is the road. We shall see where we are going, John. We will.


    • I’m grateful to you for your continued reading Thomas. You’re very encouraging.


  4. John, you might consider using this title as a title for the whole series. Populating the corporate world with ghost like characters—their existence filled with mystery—that seems as good a definition of ‘ghost’ as one needs— lost in their own opulence (if I am correct in this assessment of the poem’s portrayal) is an excellent one. The edge of fear as they sail around the world is well designed. What is it Auden called it, the age of anxiety? The ‘orientalism’ (and I definitely am referencing Edward Said’s book) paired up with the exotic life style of the rich (but not so famous, just your everyday bloke wandering around the globe.) Home coming is coming up? Careful now. I will cite two titles from Thomas Wolfe. “Look Homeward Angel” and “You Can’t go Home Again.” Oh the title is “Homeward Bound”.
    And daydreams…too.
    Yes, John, very nice.


    • Thanks Jim. I like your observation about the title if the poem being suitable for the series. It would be. And ‘ghosts’, opulence etc etc – yes. J


  5. wonderful! love the sense of losing oneself gradually 🙂


  6. Hi John, I like this one the best of the series I think, the buisiness woman who lets go of her business thoughts and dreams a bit of of maharajas on elephants and sultans in their perfumed tents … I’ve only been in one such a place (Marrakesh in 1979) and I remember how it felt like going back into the Middle ages. Love the series! 🙂


  7. Thanks Ina, it’s nice to hear that.


  8. What a succulent, sumptuous end! John, what kind of research did you do for this series (if you don’t mind…)?


    • Well, over forty years at work basically Anna. I shall post the finale to the Silk Road in about a week’s time. Thank you for your kind words today.


  9. that was a nice read John Stevens …


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