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Sample Poems by Dawn Schout


Dawn's Pizza and Bait Shop

Drive for miles,
legs confined. Ache
to stand, to breath balmy air.

Stop at my shop. Come inside. Take
your taste buds on a trip.
Have fresh pizza, so delicious
you close your eyes, sigh.

Forget about that long stretch
of road, miles of scenery,
animals hidden in woods, waiting
to cross the road in front of you.

I have what you need, the shelves full.
Don't need to drive all night, bored, tired,
stiff. Unreel here. Leave your fishing pole. Forget
about that fishless lake.

Smile at me behind the counter. Wander
through rows. Look around. Stay
a while. You'll find
what you want.

The road will always be there,
waiting for you.
As will I.


50J

We try to plug headphones
into the seat back in front of us.
When it doesn't work
for her either, I laugh.

She spills rice on herself.
I drop my knife
on the floor.
Wine is included
with our meals, so we get refills.

She's on her way to Bangkok,
me to Phnom Penh.
I don't know her last name,
but she tells me I could stay with her
if I ever visit Austin, Texas.

Our parents are worried
about us traveling
alone. If she'd stayed home,
her dad would've bought her a new car.
I'm unemployed, but my parents
didn't bribe me.

She writes down my name.
During our 13-hour flight,
I become best friends
with someone I'll never see again.

American Guest in Cambodia

Cool, white tile floor, bare
walls, clear plastic bags
of clothes in a corner,
folded cot.
Attached bathroom with blue
flowered flip-flops on a woven
rug by the door,
pink flip-flops inside.
No mirror. No separation
between shower and toilet.
No hot water.
I use a remote for the air
conditioner, adjust the direction
so air flows down
against my bare arms.
Crawl onto a pink Angry
Birds comforter. Pull a body
pillow close. Wonder
who gave up
this room for me.

Phnom Penh

At dusk, when the city
has cooled to 78 degrees,
I get in the bed
of a truck without knowing where
I'm going with people I just met.
Monks, cloaked in orange,
ride on the back of motorcycles.
I'm told to hold
onto my camera and purse
so no one on a motorcycle will snatch
them. In Khmer, locals say
they think I'm French.
They think I'm beautiful.
I think they're reckless.
They drive without helmets, weave
in and out of lanes, dart around
cars, go through red
lights seconds before
they change to green,
four or five people crammed on a motorcycle.
Some ride sidesaddle, don't hold
on to anyone. Sandals
fall off feet onto the road.
No one turns back.
Cars make U-turns into oncoming traffic.
At the Royal Palace, we walk across
a four-lane street,
expect everyone to yield.