BH Two / Poetry / Poets / Travel / Writers / Writing

3 poems by Dawn Schout

Red Eye

Traveling alone, around my age, he reminds me
of me. He leaves the shade
up on the small window.
Doesn’t block out the city lights
and sleep like almost everyone else.
Leans forward and looks
out intently.
I close my eyes,
imagine the city lights the way I saw them
from the 55th floor of a rooftop bar the night before,
think of the strangers I met, left below me now.
Open my eyes and return
to a book.
When he leans back, there’s only blackness.
He switches off
the overhead light after I switch off mine,
the small TV screens in front of us blank.
Just a touch
could bring them back.

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.


He snatches a water bottle
from a tourist, climbs
up a vine. Punctures
plastic with his claw.
Water drips on his family
below, sitting back to back
on a limb. They twitch
their ears, shake heads,
don’t look up.
One eats a banana
from my hand.
Another approaches my feet.
When I pour
water, he reaches
up toward the bottle.
Picks it up
when I set it down.
They know I have more
to give and whatever I offer, they take.
We’re all thirsty here.
We bond over bananas
and water.
When I leave, they watch
until I’m gone.


3 thoughts on “3 poems by Dawn Schout

  1. Dawn Schout’s poetry has appeared in more than 35 publications, including Gloom Cupboard, Main Street Rag, Poetry Quarterly, Red River Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. She is an assistant editor for Fogged Clarity and lives near Lake Michigan. You can read more of her work at

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