Poems of the Month, February 2017: from ‘Pays Basque’

Pays Basque, a collection of works, will be published later this year. It centres on Marcus’ Christmas holiday in South West France and will be the 7th in a series of Shin Buddhist A4 booklets published by The Paper Tiger: price €10 + postage. Please email Marcus to buy a copy, using the contact link in the menu above.

Here are three sample texts:


SAINT JEAN DE LUZ
where Aunt Diana married Jorge in 1937
after escaping from the Spanish Civil War

Motorway to Spain.
Pyrenees in the background.
Neither sun nor rain.

San Juan de Luz.
The light is grey.
So are the pigeons.

Half a baguette –
one starving pigeon
pecks at the crust.

Drastically cut back,
branches with tightly clenched fists
menace the rooftops.

Big Basque Buildings
on the road to the beach –
a sheltered crescent of sand.

A small square, buried
in straw. A donkey and lambs
stare at the children.

The Basques didn’t learn
to dance in this dismal church.
Candle-lit virgins.

Picturesque houses!
Touristically we wander
through traffic-free streets.

Painted balconies
and shutters, on quaint structures
left behind by time.

The chocolate tea-room
with local delicacies
appealed to us all.

Filled with pastries
and liquid nourishment
we made our way to the cars.

These twelve photographs
are proof of our visit
to Saint Jean de Luz.


BAYONNE & BIARRITZ

With her cathedral and her bridges,
where Grandpa kept his boat.

A tempting tea-room.
Scores of appetizing tarts
for everyone’s taste.

A maze of narrow streets –
ancient buildings above,
smart boutiques below.

The sound of the sea
in our ears. A strange city
with Venus watching.

Biarritz. The church front
constantly changing colours.
Children on the ground.

Unreal city!
Magical decorations!
Fun for everyone!

Bright lights everywhere.
Lanterns hanging from the trees.
A photograph, please!


VISIT TO MENDIONDE
to meet Jo, Emmanuelle, Sylvain, Jules, Colombe and 94 year-old Loulou.

Pleasant rolling fields,
winter trees caught in sunlight.
Basque country ahead.

Family and friends.
A table in the sunshine.
Bald bearded waiter.

Gently rounded hills,
green breasts of Mother Nature.
Emmanuelle’s car.

My sacrèd Buddhist mantra
softly whispered
to the distant mountains.

Enjoying the sun –
cattle in the rich meadows,
obedient sheep.

Kicking crisp dead leaves
we plough through an afternoon
of wooded valleys.

Sunlight in our eyes –
we peer at the muddy path
in front of our feet.

We heard the river –
it sounded like an avalanche
of autumn leaves.

The brown of her eyes,
when she spoke to me, shone like
October chestnuts.

Village at sunset –
a dense cloud of orange smoke
envelops the roofs.

Steep winding hilly lanes
in and out of sunshine –
loudly bleating sheep.

In the old farmhouse
a lady of ninety-four
makes tea for us all.