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.
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.
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!
This one was inspired by the constant battery of perfume advertisements that seems to accompany the winter holiday season. The images of women who look like they have been lobotomized or seriously drugged as they float through wispy clouds and satin drapery. Ooo, la la.
Living with hunger
She’s learned to live with hunger
and shoes that cause her pain.
“She’s every man’s desire.”
Oh, not that crap again!
You can see her on the TV
and in posters on the street,
but she doesn’t look like
any living woman you might meet.
Now she whispers to the camera.
She’s only wearing gauze.
Your eyes are glazing over, darling.
Here’s a cloth to wipe your jaw.
It’s just an advertisement.
She’s a phantom, my dear man!
Come serve the goddess in your household.
That is… if you still can.
It’s the fishnet stockings. I always try to figure out if there’s some message that they’re intended to convey. This morning, it was someone waiting for the bus. Black fishnets, not particularly sexy old black shoes. A non-descript dark knee length skirt. Holding a Louis Vuitton logo tote bag. And then she turned around. A unhappy wrinkled face, a cheap cotton foulard, and OMG, faint pink streaks in her partially fading blonde over grey dye job. This was in a higher income neighborhood, she was obviously not a homeless person. Just someone who seemed to have given up. And the first line came to me:
The remains of a well-kept wife
walked by me yesterday.
Her dye job has been slipping,
since her husband ran away.
Her bag is still designer brand.
Authentic (I can tell).
Too bad the plastic surgery
Did not hold up as well.
I wonder what the result would be if every pedestrian on the sidewalk wore a sign saying “this is not a bike lane.”
Caminante, no hay camino
The cyclist rings to warn me
that he's riding in my space.
If he expects I'll step aside,
he's about to see my face.
I'll tell him loud and clearly
that wheels go in the street,
that sidewalks are for walkers.
And I swear by my own feet,
I've right-of-way, and he does not,
although it makes him mad.
He’s swiftly passed, three red lights run,
and surprise! There is a crash.
The cyclist races off unscathed.
The old lady that he bashed
will take a while to walk again,
but it won’t make the news.
City hall thinks that bikes are cool.
Pedestrians, you lose!