Poems of the Month, December 2014: Merchandise


This is not the Spain I knew
as a wide-open-eyed boy
of fifteen English summers
hitting the Costa Brava
with grandpa and family
in a fifties Citroën.

That was the Spain of Franco
and the Guardia Civil
in their ridiculous hats,
but I was too young to know
who had murdered my uncle
in distant Talavera.

I was too young to know why
Conchita Cañizares
(a name I’ll never forget)
captured my innocent heart
with her red Sevillan dress
and black hair for dreaming of.

I remember dusty streets
through nondescript villages
where tough old men led donkeys
with heavy loads on their backs,
areas where the church was
the most impressive building.

Conchita’s nearly eighty.
Churches are less important.
Commercial developments
scar the modernized landscape
where motor cars hurry from
roundabout to roundabout.

In shopping centres the size
of two Olympic stadiums
we paddle on polished floors
twixt racks that sell everything
ever invented by man
to appeal to woman’s taste.

Every possible gadget,
shiny, plastic, second hand,
goes for a song in Chinese
megamarkets or grim dumps
that skim off the unwanted stuff
of money-minded Snowbirds.

Perhaps we’ll pay a visit
to Miguel Hernandez’ house
and learn about a poet
who undershadowed Lorca
in poems about a land
some say is falling apart.

This little piece of Belgium
overlooking the forest
houses my sister-in-law
for five or six months a year,
guaranteeing temperatures
above the seasonal average.

Here I read about water
in Emoto’s well-known book
praising its true qualities,
bronzed by eternal sunshine
and listening to a fountain
that splashes all day and night.

Namo Amida Butsu
mixed with love and gratitude
gushes from my thirsty lips.
After this warm week in Spain
I long for the local shop
and the comfort of my bed.

Orihuela, November 2014