One thing the residents of Barcelona will tell you is that the city is constantly “en obras.” Which means that wherever you are, turn a corner and there will be some kind of construction work going on. Things age, materials decay, and sometimes, property simply changes hands and new owners have a different idea.
They're tearing down the castle
that stood across the street.
Each morning when I leave the house,
such rubble at my feet!
A gargoyle's head, a family crest,...
the rotten stone must fall.
It seems that what we really need
is another shopping mall.
Someone sold the title
and a heritage was lost.
The change will bring a profit,
but it can't outweigh the cost.
Barcelona has an active and abundant bird population. Birds are important in an urban environment. They add to the soundtrack of the city. And as often happens, a moment on my walk to work brought me to a standstill. Magpies are so loud!
The birds dispute their breakfast
in the bare December trees.
One worm between the two of them,
and both of them are thieves.
The magpie is a foulmouthed sort,
be glad you don’t speak Bird!
For I hesitate to translate
the things I overheard.
Poor Mr. Worm, in politics,
leans neither left nor right.
Unfortunately, the magpies do.
It was a gruesome sight.
Another morning. I’m on the bus, and through the window I see a couple gesticulating on the sidewalk. His back is turned to me and I can’t see his face, but she is beautiful and exotic, a long mane of wavy black hair. And although I can’t hear her, I can see the anger and pain in her words.
Same old story
Her hair is wild, her brow is furled,
she wields her words like knives.
He stands immobile and remote,
the strategy of guys
who could care less.
She’s just another bitch, he thinks,
I was only having fun.
And I will win this argument
because I’ve got the gun.
The PSL has been silent for quite a while. Circumstances regarding the day job eliminated the necessary contact with the sidewalk. If I wanted to walk, my choices were to make circles around a parking lot, or pace back and forth along a stretch of industrial park road which dead ends in a vacant lot scattered with construction debris. Then one day, as the end of my sojourn there was drawing to a close, a line came to me in the middle of my pacing: What if i kept on walking? The thing about a void is that it eventually sucks you in.
What if I kept on walking?
What if I kept on walking,
and never turned around?
What if I kept on walking,
and I was never found?
"What if I kept on walking?"
I kind of like the sound.
No need for an objective,
no dream, no special cause.
My journey simple evidence
of one of Nature's laws:
an object once in motion;
no obstacle, no pause.
This post draws from two inspirations: one, the Poolside Laureate is between jobs and looking for work; and two, the Barcelona street sweepers are a peculiar feature of our cityscape. They always seem to work in pairs (in case one of them is attacked?), and they use charming brooms that could be farm implements straight out of the middle ages. Ah! there is a third inspiration… public sector jobs here require level of language proficiency in Catalan.
O, Sister! Can you spare a broom?
O, Sister! Can you spare a broom?
I'll help you sweep the street.
I just need a little money
so the kids and I can eat.
Every job I ask for,
they say I’m overqualified!
I sure don’t understand it.
I’m frankly mystified.
I’m not too good to push a broom;
I’d like to work outdoors.
There's no shame in honest work,
and all of us do chores.
Slim chance they’ll hire me I guess,
I can't conjugate the verbs
required on the language test
that lets you sweep the curbs.
A moment of joy captured through a bus window.
To the boys!
Tie me to your torso
and take me for a dance!
I just want to feel your body,
I’m not looking for romance.
Let the sun sculpt every muscle,
let the shadow draw the line.
We won’t cross it, we’ll just think it.
I know you can’t be mine.
But life is meant for living.
In this moment, let me dream
that years do not divide us
and I am still sixteen!
Another poem that started with the glimpse of a leg of a person standing next to me at a stop light. Nothing special, just a tattoo. And that made me think, how sad! Why isn’t a tattoo special? It’s because of the overkill!
If you walk around Barcelona, you will see lots of people with tattoos. Young/ old/ fat/ thin/ male/ female. At the beaches on the Costa Brava, you can probably see more ink on skin than bathing suits! A trip to the Balearic islands isn’t complete unless you come back with a tattoo! For me, the atavistic charm of bodyart disappeared when it became just another form of merchandise, part of the decor of summer beer commercials on TV.
The dragon wraps around her leg like Druid art of old. A decision on an island made when she was young and bold.
“Let’s be different!” they all said; so each one did the same. Now time has turned youth’s outré badge to a sagging faded stain.
This poem, like others, was inspired by Barcelona’s lovely vegetation. I was walking home from work at about 8 p.m. and found myself enveloped in a heady fragrance that reminded me of my grandmother.
I walk through curtains of jasmine.
It smells like movie stars...
the ones who wore those négligées,
and winked at men in bars.
A fragrance out of fashion,
in close quarters, it's too sweet.
But in a city on an evening
in the summer, it's a treat.
First post in Catalan! This one goes out to those who too often remain nameless. Any native Catalan speaker is more than welcome to correct errors!
Compartint la vella manta
Compartint la vella manta és amor, al meu parer. Encara que siguin pobres i visquin al carrer.
La mare els coneixia, “Són bona gent amb mala sort.” Sovint és el que passa amb la gent que ve de l’hort.
La ciutat els menja l’esperit i els calés. No em preguntis pels cognoms. Són en Joan i na Roser.
In Barcelona, at any moment, in any neighborhood, you can be surprised by a gem of modernist architecture. The Casa Muleyafid, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1914, is one I pass every morning. The Consulate of Mexico is currently the lucky tenant of this whimsical structure. Not only do they have a great building, they have somebody who likes flowers. I know, because you can see a pot of tall, gracious orchids through one of windows.
Orchids in the Consulate
The orchids in the Consulate have grown on foreign soil. Carefree, you’ll never see them spin, and neither do they toil.
I wonder if a diplomat from some greener distant place was homesick when she planted them? Or perhaps it was a case of protocol, as flowers are known to make amends in conflicts small and great.
Flowers would be my policy if I were head of state.