A shadow, first this week, slips on the stones
and falls in place. The plaza comes to life.
A sparrow watches cats cart off the bones
of cutlets from the tasca. Sparrow’s wife
welcomes back the sun with song and cluck
and curtsies to the cats as they pad by,
pause to stretch, and wonder if their luck
extends to lunch on sparrow. Worth a try?
A lizard who’s anticipating flies
tries his tongue out, flicking at the light
reflecting from the broken glass that lies
where the waiter let it fall last night.
I let the hot cortado chase my yawn
and thanks my stars for sun. Altea dawn.
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.
In Cadaqués in June the night air shimmers.
The heat from fish-grills punctuates the street.
And strangers try, not hampered much by language,
to fall in love with everyone they meet.
The coastal rocks that days host naked swimmers
are dangerous at night until the moon
illuminates the places you can cling to.
Soft laughter lets me know my world’s in tune.
The laughter’s hers and mine, until we still it.
Much later, we’re aware it’s getting cold,
but, high on stars, and salt, and us, we tarry
to watch the sun wake from the sea, take hold.
I like to live in comfort and feel foreign
so I’m most at home when I sojourn in Spain
as a tourist with few language skills to lean on.
A man with a plastic bag clasped in his hand
picks up the dog-doo that his pet puts down.
He puffs his cheeks, the man does, then he gazes
at La Monde in the Spanish edition till his wife comes out
of the Boutique de la Prensa and it’s time
to look for lunch and maybe wash his hands.
musing on a park bench in Valencia’s Placa Dels Pinazo
Oh the edge of death not sure which side is safer
I partake of wine and juju, chew a wafer.
The titles of a million books to read,
the half not written yet, pass in review.
The half of those, their authors being dead,
won’t ever be. I try to buy a few.
The cold that passes understanding calls.
I hope my bold not answering to it stalls
the inexorableness of history so far.
I am wishing on a nonexistent star.
In pointy shoes, the smiling dancing mother
and her husband and her mother praise her baby.
They are happy as they should be. Life is blooming.
The baby’s laughter lights the universe.
Where are we? I don’t know. I have no map.
I buy a map. I learn that I am lost.
An urgent call to action makes me nap.
I dream about the chances I have tossed
aside so often they have scars embossed
on every surface. Centuries elapse.
I warn heroic actors, ‘Mind the gaps’
but no one listens. All of them ignore
advice from ancients letting loose their clasp
on everything. The way I did. Before.
than he needs be,
eyes me with
the front porch
of clear shallow
we share –
me to watch,
him to fish.
If he is not
like I am,
some of the gulls
One gull, confused
(as I am
by the accents
picks up a rock
on a mussel.
The rock does
than real surf,
along the edges
then you must
than I do,
then the fat
in that dusty car do,
in that nearby steep
I am gulled.
of whom the tall
and the short
on the dole
in tax exile,
is a very old fort
that I take
in one minute,
It is cold
for this month’s norms.
Norwegians take a dip.
The notary who plays
on the beach
with his children
his coat on.