Before you set out for Ithaka
pray for a long itinerary
full of protracted stopovers.
Customs officials, Interpol,
the zombie Police Chief – not a problem:
as long as you keep your shit together,
staple a smile to your fat face,
they won’t be able to finger you.
Customs officials, Interpol,
the paparazzi, will look right through you
unless you invite them up for a drink,
unless they’re already inside your head.
Pray for a long itinerary:
landing for the umpteenth time
on the tarmac of a third-world airport
at fiery psychedelic dawn;
haggling in the duty-frees
for coral necklaces and pearls,
designer scents & silks & shades,
as many marques as you can handle;
visiting every provincial town,
sampling every drug & kick …
Never forget about Ithaka:
getting there is your destiny;
no need to rush– it’ll still be waiting
no matter how many years you take.
By the time you touch down you’ll be stuffed,
happy with what you snapped in transit,
just a few daytrips left to do.
Ithaka shouted you the trip,
you’d never have travelled without her.
She’s got fuck-all to give you now.
Dirt-poor, dingy … she’s up front.[*]
It’s over now; you’ve seen so much
there’s no need to tell you what Ithaka means.

[L. West / S. Kalleides, In Transit: Poems & Translations, p. 18]

“Ithaka” was written in 1911
by the Alexandrian poet C. P. Cavafy

In W. H. Auden’s 1941 adaptation,
“Ithaka” has become “Atlantis”

[*] See >Xanthippe.

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