John Forbes 1969
Europe : a guide for Ken Searles

Greece is like a glittering city
though only in a political speech

but Italians believe in bella figura
& mis-use the beach. In Germany there's

Kraftwerk & acres of expressionist kitsch.
Oil-rich Norwegians don't need to ski

they just like it & Iceland is famous
for its past. Doing their physical jerks,

a quiet pride permeates the Swedes.
Denmark is neither vivid nor abrupt

& Belgians have a ringside seat
to observe the behaviour of the Dutch.

The French invented finesse but it's
their self-regard that intrigues us.

We pity the English, though they get on
our wick, pretending to understand us

& Scotland is old-fashioned like a dowry
but unusual, like nice police. Mention

Ireland & you've already said enough
The Spaniards are not relaxed about sex

& tourists are attracted to this. Some
Portugese exist entirely on a diet of fish

but rich cakes, finance & guest workers
sustain the Swiss. Consult my By Trailbike

& Hot-Air Ballon Through Middle Europe
for details of the Austrians & Czechs

but don't forget Bavaria's Octoberfest
or that Rococo architecture was designed

to be passed out under, pissed, & it's
aesethically edifying to do this.

For the rest; give Russia a miss,
the Poles will appreciate hard currency

but only as a gift & the fleshpots of
Split will leave you a physical wreck.

This guide stops short at the Balkans
as it omits the Finns. I won't apologise

-many quides to Australia include
New Zealand or leave out Tasmania

No doubt some thorough American manual
can give you the lowdown on Europe's margins

but mine, designed for only one traveller,
is better written & much shorter.

Besides, if you remove the art, Europe's
like the US, more or less a dead loss

& while convenient for walking
& picturesque, like the top of a Caran

D'Ache pencil case or a chocolate box
what do you make of a landscape

that reminds you of itself? Is this why
the people are sure they're typical

not standard? I can't advise you on this
but I know how I enjoyed myself; though

knocked out by what convinced me
'Great Art' without inverted commas is

(but not because of this) I hung around
with other Australians & hit the piss.

John Forbes

John Forbes Collected Poems Homage to John Forbes Online Poems
©: adapted by afactor Dated: 16 July 2001 Updated: 23 January 2007