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portraits of red and grey #1 by James Morehead

July 3, 2011

portraits of red and grey #1

by James Morehead

marshie greets us
a salesman today
carrying brochures of russia
red with cathedrals mosques museum statues
and snow-tipped mountain tops
                                                                                                                  ( marshie - our english teacher
                                                                                                                  cool among the strung out
                                                                                                                  hormone-driven schoolboys
                                                                                                                  seventeen years old
                                                                                                                  and reckless )
he needs fifteen of us
an eighteen day adventure

( excited whispers fly
  disheveled ties and ripped-seam blazers
  our eyes light up
  we ignore mom and dad's expected gasps
  two thousand canadian dollars :
  airfare hotel food expenses
  into communist coffers )

we have to go
young impatient imaginations explode
dreams of faraway places
of sean connery and michael caine
                                                        ( capitalist kings in a lesser land )

in a few days
excited whispers and red brochures
whither

but i hang on
my mind wanders each night
through glossy tourist snapshots
my dreamy russia enchanted
my dreams innocent
ignorant

     -----

i study russia for homework
                                             waiting anxiously for departure
library book history
                               tour book advice
what to wear
                     where to buy
rubles kopeks
                       and rules
don't drink the water
                                 or take pictures of bridges
                                                                           trucks
                                                                                     soldiers
                                                                                                  tanks

i pack my suitcase full
with black market currency
                                           cigarettes
                                           buttons
                                           gum
                                           jeans
                                           running shoes
                                           cassettes

     -----

pearson airport, toronto

fifteen camera-clad schoolboys
oxfords and school blazers replaced by topsiders and gucci sweaters
we are surrounded by parents
excited nervous hugs and kisses
be careful see you
soon

     -----

i can't remember most of their names
or faces

only my roommate phil
                                     passed out in a vodka swirl
and raoul
                eating black-market caviar
                breakfast lunch and midnight snack
and frank
                armed with two-thousand dollar photo gear
                ( he never learned how to focus )
and marshie
                    buying us drinks drinking and ignoring :
                                                                                    the perfect chaperone

Next in portraits of red and grey…

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