in the cab to basle airport

they blasted tanks
with desert sand, he says–
in Lybia, two hours
from the sea & he saw
Gaddafi in a big parade
back then,

being a young man,
out of work for quite a bit,
it sounded like an opportunity

and so he went,
but nothing ever organized,
he shakes his head,

material and tools were missing,
& i nod, then double-check
my tickets, passport,
“beaten land, but

this is where the first flight took me”
he explains,
“was beneficial in a way, broadened
the horizon that gets small at times
if you’re just staying where you are”

the taxi meter drums its beat
into the silence, we both hang
on our own thoughts

and we’re almost there
“too many lost their lives”, his eyes
get dark
as he unloads my suitcase,
“terrible regime, they brought
the country down”

and it was water tanks they built,
he says &
that this may sound crazy but
he never made it
to the sea
in all these months


from 3pm EST on, you can find me behind the OpenLinkNight bar at dVerse, serving drinks, washing glasses and handing you the mic to spit poetry across the place… gonna join us..?


76 responses to “in the cab to basle airport

  1. was beneficial in a way, broadened
    the horizon that gets small at times
    if you’re just staying where you are”

    Very poignant!

    Claudia, I love how you receive people…take them in and invite us to join the conversation!

  2. Too many lose their lives in too many different places. Yes, moving here and there going to other places is the only way to open up our world to new adventure. We do meet some very interesting, intriguing people and, hear some sad, sad stories.
    Very vividly told Claudia.

  3. what an intriguing interaction with him…this is one of my fav things to do…hear other peoples stories…and how they find themselves there…his feelings at the end are palpable…i also find it sad he never made it to the sea…cool piece claudia…

  4. Stirring piece. lots to conjure those times when you read something and have no other choice but to pause in comatose style, just pondering them over. The quote in the middle in particular hit me, “was beneficial in a way, broadened
    the horizon that gets small at times
    if you’re just staying where you are”

    lots of truth and meaning right there. Great write Claudia, thanks

  5. Yep learned from going to NY that one must move here and there to see the world a bit, as adventures do arise. Never know who we could run into.

  6. Such a simple thing to do- talk to a man, listen to his story, see a part of the world through his eyes. But how you weave this into a poem for us- not simple but beautiful. Thanks.

  7. The tank image turnaround is very strong, Claudia, and the whole poem is full of regret and sadness, and that strange sense of suspension we get from the true stories of strangers–like reading a living book and being a bit scared that it isn’t fiction. Thanks for the trip.

  8. The lines about moving to a different place, that broadening of horizons.. that’s just true and brilliant I feel. I think Joy is right, it was just like was reading out of a book but quite realistic!

  9. sad, poignant, and beautiful, and i get that, the never making it to the sea. a lovely slice of life scene, filled with connection, the stuff that matters most.

  10. Brilliant story. People are great inspirations, and you used that to write a wonderful poem. Thanks.

  11. “Was beneficial in a way, broadened / the horizon that gets small at times /
    if you’re just staying where you are” … this one got me thinking. Thank you for letting us in on your conversations, Claudia. I always do enjoy them.

  12. I love your writing style. I’m like a fly on the wall, going wherever you go, interacting with the people in your writing. Seeing the entire scene play out before me 😀

  13. An intriguing biography here, using such unusual points of reference. You also transform the epic story into such striking and interesting details. I enjoyed this!

  14. So much story in this, told by a true poet…you capture all the emotions of hope, regret & anguish of this man, who never made it to the sea….so good.

  15. Thanks for sharing your poetic stories of the people you meet on your travels. You pack so much into a vignette of a brief time.
    With the words “basel airport”, you also brought back a few fond memories…*smiles*

  16. The kind of conversation that we all have from time to time with people we don’t know and never see again. It is splendid how you have written it as a poem, a poem of our time.

  17. “the taxi meter drums its beat
    into the silence, we both hang
    on our own thoughts” the placement of this gives space to the conversation…that breath too many forget to take, the pause to let things soak in and thing before speaking….beautiful, tragic poem Claudia.

  18. you know- I’ve met some amazing characters in taxis…and this sounds like on of the times…just kind of brings home what crazy lives some people can live, can escape from, can overcome…this had a real nice natural flow to it…almost conversational…very well observed

  19. hey claudia

    the tone of this piece is superb – your pitch always feels spot on!
    its so easy to suspend myself and allow your words to create a
    movie to enjoy and savour… you have a natural style and the ease
    which always shows thru and makes every read a pleasure 😀

  20. Good to be back and able to read your words again Claudia. This is, as always, outstanding.

  21. Claudia, I have seen so much of the world now because of your words, and I love that, but the way you are able to relate a story, a character, while maintaining your unique voice, blows me away every time…

  22. Dear Claudia – I am not a world traveler, but I get such a travelogue reading you. I love that you bring the reader into your thoughts as well as your milieu. Excellent!

  23. the empathy in this poem was touching, that I, began to feel it with in myself .My mind traveled through memory of the MC.

  24. this is a wonderful slice of real life. big moments are few… explosions, extensive trips, etc. you’ve woven two lives together here, if only for a moment, reminding us of the intricacies of human connection. very nice writing.~jane

  25. What a joy for you, to use your gifts of conversation, to fearlessly approach Peeps, and listen to them. (Peeps love that–grin!)

    And what a JOY it is for US to benefit from your willingness to share your experiences in poem after wonderful poem!

    Never yet made it to the sea. Some city Peeps never make it out of their tiny neighborhood. God gave us ALL the whole world to rediscover and enjoy!

    LOVE and PEACE, Claudia!!!

  26. Ironic ending there. Great story-telling. I like the feeling of the narrator being sort of distracted but still receiving the story here.

  27. The taxi driver must definitely cry when he sees what is happening in Libya right now. Yup, terrible regime indeed. I am sure that, though he must mourn his country of origin, he is thankful to be living in Basle.

  28. I love the stories people tell, they can all be so different yet very connected.
    Love this as I do all your writing.

  29. Claudia… This was very lovely to read. Very awesome. Was I wrong in feeling the lingering darkness of a passing war?

  30. The reader is right there with you, in the moment…making this conversation a touch of genius poetics…Thought provoking, great write.!

  31. Amazing encounter, Claudia! One rarely told but comes as and when. He was a young man and he saw what he could do to better things. And you witnessed part of that history. Great write!


  32. This reminded me of a taxi ride in Freetown, Sierra Leone back in the 1980’s, The driver was an older man who was deeply distressed about the way things were going in his country. He was right to be as Civil War broke out in 1991 and lasted 11 years, enveloped the country, and left over 50,000 dead.
    I haven’t been back but remember the people being gentle and friendly.
    Nice write Claudia.

  33. Very poignant piece of work! The conversation added such a layer of obtainable depth that the reality of it can not be denied.

  34. This is such a sad reality and still so real in places with dictatorship (I’m thinking Syria, right now.) Beautifully written and a good example of how you write life.

  35. oh claudia, this is brilliant… perhaps one of your best. this man, this conversation, is so vivid and real. great poetry here, im really moved. always a pleasure to read your work, but this one was especially good.

  36. …ein Moment im Flughafen Basel…
    …ein Moment im Leben eines Mannes….
    …ein wunderschönes Gedicht …
    …Worte, die lebendig werden….
    …danke Claudia!

  37. something about cab rides…

    made me think of things we’re so close to, and never do; of people we’re nearly next to, and never see –

    nice piece claudia, thank you 😉

  38. The pause in this “the taxi meter drums its beat, into the silence, we both hang
    on our own thoughts” made me catch my breath and pause myself to stop and think…

  39. “was beneficial in a way, broadened
    the horizon that gets small at times
    if you’re just staying where you are”

    I always wonder how small the horizon I see is becoming. I love the way you captured this moment. Nicely done. 🙂

  40. This poem has given me a much better insight into the action on the ground in Libya and the reality of living and working there as a citizen than all the news-journalist’s commentaries put together. You are outstanding at giving the multiple layers of “local color” in far flung lands, Claudia.

  41. I was right there in the cab with you. Amazing how, when you open yourself up for conversation with anyone, you get the most amazing stories. Even if this one is an imagined conversation, it’s so real, so right, especially in the brief silences. Reminds me of Manhattan: I lived there eight years and never did see the Statue of Liberty, except from far off… Amy