Drinking Coca Cola on a Rock beyond The Cross

After the rain had washed the last tourist’s feet
and the people who lived here
were living their lunch times inside,
I climbed the hill again, this time above
the fourteenth station that lays Christ in his tomb,
and higher — past the cemetery, to the rocks.

I am sitting on this rock, a rock among many,
drinking Coca Cola from a crimson tin
and not minding the pine tree that blocks
my view of the sea — where memory has the sea —
in this world of rock, cloud, mist and me.

I watch Altea’s blue-domed church ignoring me.

Dogs bark hoarsely, hidden in the valley.
Daredevils ride cola-black mopeds
down slick mud hills that hours ago were dust.
I empty out clichés and am astounded
at the space my life enjoys. Nothing’s free.

I would join the moped riders. They’re too far.

I read The Outcast, bringing Cowper with me
to sip the cola, look down toward Altea.
He takes me with him in his ancient language
and we drown together — apart insanities.

Eyestrain, homeless sans computer screens,
deserts me; I see all I’m meant to see:
the blocking pine tree dripping spring-bloomed cones,
the clouds that coalesce from air and sea.

The yellow flowers’ petals count themselves
and yell their totals to me as I note
how masons set the top stones in their wall
with points straight up, a sharp and visual moat
to stop me stepping up where I might fall.

My cloud moves off and sails above Callosa,
across medlar nets and rows of almonds.

A sun bolt sizzles clouds and lights the dome
of the blue church in Altea. Here stays grey.

How did this root get here, get torn and burnt?
It lies with silver foil two feet away,
on a jumbled jubilation throne of stones
that could be those a church is built upon,
or those Iranian judges order thrown
at bound offenders staked waist deep in dirt
and stoned until the blood comes through the bags
in which their heads are covered, praise their lord.

I let a found cracked gutter tile
serve the rocks, and root, and wrinkled foil as a tray.

Is Robin Cooke, Tehran’s guest, treated well?
Are popes religious? Will they speak of oil?

A gargoyle’s life is pleasant for its view.
I sit on stones that I, gargoyle-smiled, distress;
all of us move so little while we look.
We stir nor sky nor wind: we fear to mess
around with aether signals bringing news.

I wonder whether the gargoyle Giles still hangs
head down, tongue out, tail up upon the door
where I first met him, living in Callosa.
I can see Callosa’s hills from here, but not its streets.

A helicopter vision is a bore
when Lucinda’s on the beach
and you want more.

Sniff the flower while you may, and learn
its Latin name.
When April comes we’ll march away
and spread its budding fame
across the press, the Internet
and into deepest space.
We’ll only show its name alas
and not its pretty face.

Altea’s outline dissipates. The sea
appears behind the city. Rain clouds move
from downtown up the valley towards me.
I pack Cowper up, I bin my cola tin,
I leave root and foil and stones for what they are.
The rain comes down refreshingly and cold,
and cheers me, from my aeons as a fish
before my recent evolution into wish.
I steal a moped, slalom down the hill.
The parts the pointy rocks don’t find, the devil surely will.

Chilling in the Polder

Here it’s five degrees. It’s twenty in Valencia
so, QED, there it’s four times warmer.
Pure math provides my faultless referencia
and Mother Nature’s never let my logic harm her
though she does insist we split the diferencia
to leave me five and give twenty to the charmer
who put new math in my-cold fingered reach
in my igloo while he trots off to the beach.

Winter Report from Costa Blanca

The weather up north’s German (as they say, ‘wetter’).
Dutch polders that aren’t frozen float in rain.
Down here in Spain it’s drier. Warmer. Better.
Though Oslo slows from powdered snow, the pain
of seeing that on TV does not fetter
my feckless glee. Orange blossoms help me gain
perspectives that permit me to endure
my winter where the sea today’s azure.

published in THE ARMCHAIR AESTHETE and in THE OLDING MAN

Flat Report — L’Alfàs del Pi

A cormorant is fishing my front porch,
a shelf of small stones sloping under sea
so clear I see the trace at thirty yards
each time he dives. The surf sounds subtle here.

A gathering of gulls lights on my left
enhancing the blessed solitude I feel.
No human in my line of sight that way:
just tiny surf, and dozing gulls, and hills.

Sharp hills, that turn to mountains as they climb.
White gulls fly over, checking what I write.
The rest remain at rest; we share some sun,
and comment, in our ways, on how the wind
is lighter, and how ozone smells so clean.

More rocks revolve with every single wave
than men have years of history on this earth,
and each rock tells a story seagulls hear.

I hear the stories too, and, like the gulls,
take comfort I don’t understand the words.

Costa Blanca

The sky has disappeared
or is it me
who ceases when there’s
only sea
and grey horizon
lightens into white
identical to sky?

When every sight:
the mountains, buildings,
and the trees;
the plastic medlar covers,
the hives of bees;
hill-climbing coughing trucks
filled with wet goats;
through-wetted web nets
and the wakes of boats —
go missing, mingling,
mixing in the haze.

Are they what’s gone
or am I in a daze
to think discernment
matters in the theme?

Today all Costa Blanca
is one dream.