Archives for posts with tag: Spain

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Back from the Front
by Anita Haas

“They kept coming. Delivery
vans, mail trucks even.”

Every 8 p.m. we emerged, blinking,
from our cozy, book-lined
bunker, to applaud you
from our rooftop.

“It was a trade center turned field hospital.”

And every night we stared
at the coiffed, heeled announcer, pointing
at rising columns on charts
labeled “Infections” and “Deaths.”

“And they lay them on the sidewalks, some
already dead. The families forbidden to say goodbye.”

But the media already told us;
No masks for you, garbage bag
capes. Shortage of
beds, ambulances, ventilators;
patient-lined corridors, ice rink morgue.

“The nearest sink was 800 metres
away. We couldn’t wash them. The smell …”

But TV sucks reality out of things. Tricks
you into believing it’s all just a movie.

“Many colleagues with families didn’t go home
at night, afraid of infecting them.”

But you were real. Telling me,
blinking down at your coffee, voice
wavering. After it was all over.
For now, at least.

“But I did. After my shift, I’d collapse
on the couch, hug my dog, and sob.”

PHOTO: Healthcare workers in Spain dealing with the coronavirus crisis applaud in return as they are cheered outside their hospital on March 26, 2020. Photo by Iago Lopez, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lockdown here in Spain was especially severe during the months of March, April, and May. We were restricted to our homes and only permitted to leave, unaccompanied, for work, food, or medicine, and within a one kilometer radius. At 8 p.m. the streets rang out with applause from balconies. Since we don’t have a balcony, we rediscovered our building’s rooftop, where we could stretch our legs, applaud the healthcare workers, and get some vitamin D.  When we could finally leave and see people, I met up with a nurse friend of mine. Her story inspired this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, award-winning Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has been featured in Quantum Leap, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Vox Poetica, Verse Virtual, Wink, Songs of Eretz, Parody Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Founder’s Favourites. She spends her free time watching films and enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats.

PHOTO: The author on her rooftop during lockdown.

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The Curved Window
by Lynn White

Our Spanish room was simple,
a bit dusty, with two narrow beds,
a wash basin, a small table
and a shared toilet in the passage.
Normality in Spain back then.
But it was our first Spanish room
and we were happy!
The owner was nice,
“doux, comme le sucre”
as my friend told him.
But he spoke no French.

We shopped in the corner shop with
the curved window
which became our landmark
to find our way back home
through the labyrinth of small streets.
At night we explored them
enjoying the clubs and cafes and bars
and the company of lively people.
Then we found our window
and made our way home.

Home to a locked door that
no amount of banging or shouting
would cause to open.
A passerby showed us the system.
He clapped his hands loudly
and a man appeared with a big bunch of keys,
enough to fit the locks of several streets.
Normality when Franco reigned.
He let us in with a smile.
He was “doux, comme le sucre”
my friend told him,
but he didn’t understand.

Forty years later we found the street.
Our landmark, the curved shop window
showed us the way.
It was all still there, though only in facade,
waiting for reconstruction or demolition.
The facade of a memory that
is still there and remains
“doux, comme le sucre”
and we understand.

It’s all gone now.

PHOTO: Alleyway in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Anemone123, used by permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:
Barcelona is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighboring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the fifth most populous urban area in the European Union. Barcelona is a major international tourist destination, with numerous recreational areas, one of the best beaches in the world, mild and warm climate, and historical monuments, including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

PHOTO: Barcelona, Spain, by Ken Cheung on Unsplash.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by my first visit to Spain in 1965. I went there recently to discover that the street no longer exists. However its absence revealed that the end buildings in some of the surviving streets also had a curved window…Our landmark for deeper explorations of the city was a huge sculptural “Phillips sign” which we could see from everywhere. In the late 60s someone pointed out that there were several of those as well…No wonder we got lost!!

PHOTO: The author in search of her past, looking for her curved window in Barcelona, Spain (2011).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications, including Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal, and So It Goes. Find Lynn at lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and on Facebook.

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The Viaduct of Madrid
by Anita Haas

The first time I saw you, illuminated
in your evening glory, I had lost my way. Running
up Toledo Street, hurrying
to meet a friend in Plaza Mayor, I rounded
the wrong corner and you commanded, “Stop!
Forget your silly worries! Look at me!”

Noble eagle, servile slave, you stretch your spine, crook
your elbows, bow your head. Your shoulders carry
a load of heedless traffic, pressing on you from one
set of fingers buried in the Moorish quarter
to the other, in opulent parks and palaces,
your wingspan – your yoke – bridging two worlds, and
– your back to the city – you look down
            on crumbling walls that once protected the town,
            on a park dedicated to its founder, an emir of Muslim Córdoba,
            on travelers passing through you like a gate,
            on the Segovia road, once a creek, the banks of which
housed the earliest settlers.

You shelter the homeless, watch helplessly
as the desperate leap from your shoulders, their ghosts
staring stunned at the spots where their bodies hit road.

Like a medieval fortress, stone steps race up
and down your slopes like beetles, resting on tree-shrouded
landings, where lovers tryst, and photographers snipe
at infinite angles, each frame bathed
in unique light, and cradled by arms
dressed in foliage.

War once crippled your mighty columns
Yet still you arch and gleam majestic
like a dancer, frozen in an ecstatic olé.

PHOTO: Segovia Viaduct, Madrid, Spain, by Miguel Braulio.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Segovia Viaduct is a concrete bridge in Madrid, Spain. The location was previously the site of an iron bridge built in 1874. Sixty years later, in 1934, a concrete bridge, similar to the one that stands today, replaced it — and, during the 1970s, the site was refurbished and expanded, but the basic design remained the same.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, award-winning Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has appeared in Quantum Leap, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Vox Poetica, Verse Virtual, Wink, Songs of Eretz, Parody Magazine, and Founder’s Favourites. She spends her free time watching films, and enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats.

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Gravity Grateful
by Mark Blickley

Looking down from high places doesn’t bother me at all but when I have to look up at things, like buildings, it makes me nervous cause it feels like some kind of force like a magnet or something is going to pull me up and lift me off the ground which is a lot worse than falling ’cause if you’re falling down you know you’re falling and that’s that but if you get pulled off the ground and lifted into the air you’re not falling, but you could fall at any moment, and there’s no end because if you fall you have to land, but if you’re lifted up it could go on forever and I hate that.

Photo of Dalí Theatre-Museum (Figueres, Catalonia, Spain) by the author (January 2020).

Museum of Salvador Dali

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This past January I visited Barcelona, Spain, with my daughter Deirdre. We rented a car and decided to take a side trip to the Salvador Dalí museum at Figueres, Spain. After viewing the inside of this exquisite museum, I focused on its exterior structure. The photo that appears with my poem is my looking up at a detail of this magnificent building. When we returned to Barcelona, I obsessed over this photo, which resulted in my writing a surreal-tinged prose poem, “Gravity Grateful.”

PHOTO: Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres, Spain by Taras Verkhovynets, used by permission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His most recent book is his text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams.

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A B-Movie Birthday
by Anita Haas

I listen at my front door — dare not open it nowadays. Once-friendly neighbors watch for infractions. Leave only for food or medicine. Always alone. Masks, gloves, shopping trolley, distance. Cross over the road. Look away.

Stories of chivatos (tattlers) and “balcony police” abound online.

Has he been caught? Fined? Would they say his errand wasn’t “essential”? Several thousand euros would be a lot to pay for a birthday cake.

Stories of power-hungry cops and soldiers abound online.

At last I hear footsteps on the stairs — elevator buttons not safe. I open the door a crack and super-hubby slips in, panting. “We are living a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!” I giggle “Yes, The Curse of Covid-19!” “Felicidades, cariño! Your cake!” He presents it to me proudly. “Gracias! My hero! Quick! Mask off! Wash your hands!” I spray alcohol over the parcels, relieved.

Stories of infection and death abound online.

Eyes lined, lashes lengthened, hair curled, careful not to show the roots. Chic top and earrings, track pants and slippers. Our backs shun the front door, the same one we opened wide to welcome last year’s guests. We grin into the phone, me holding the cake and he the selfie-stick. We bet on the number of likes we’ll get. Confined but connected!

Happy birthday stories abound online.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When this whole craziness began, I knew, as a writer, that I wanted to capture the fear, the uncertainty, and the hilarity that we were all experiencing. Madrid, at this point is still one of the hardest hit places, with most residents strictly confined to small apartments. My little birthday celebration and the front door theme helped tie it all together.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Publications where her work has appeared  include Falling Star Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Tulane Magazine, Literary Brushstrokes, and Adelaide Magazine. She spends her free time enjoying tapas, flamenco, and B-movies with her husband and two cats.

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LAST NIGHT AS I WAS SLEEPING (Excerpt)
by Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Antonio Machado (1875-1939) was a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of the literary movement known as the Generation of ’98. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

Illustration: Bee honeycomb rubber stamp by BlossomStamps available at etsy.com.

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I found the above card (“Have a sweet dream,” Halong Bay Vietnam)  a while back in a book purchased at a used book store.  I have a small collection of things I’ve found in used books — but this one is my favorite. This lovely message brought to mind a favorite bittersweet poem….

LAST NIGHT AS I WAS SLEEPING (Excerpt)
by Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

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A dog jumps into Lake Banyoles in northern Spain.

National Geographic photograph by Tino Soriano

This and other blue images appear in LIFE IN COLOR, a 504-page book of 245 photographs divided into color chapters. The book is available at Amazon.com. To view a range of blue images, visit the National Geographic Blue Gallery.

A person can learn a lot from a dog…Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things — a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” JOHN GROGAN, author of Marley and Me

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El Gran Gatsby (Opening lines in Spanish)

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

En mi más temprana edad, alguna vez mi padre me dio un consejo que desde entonces hago dar vueltas en mi mente.

–Cuando sientas deseos de criticar a alguien — me dijo — recuerda tan sólo que no todos en el mundo tu vieron las ventajas que has tenido tú.

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En Inglés: 
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” 

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El Gran Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available in many editions at Amazon’s Spanish site — with brisk sales for most versions (paperback, Kindle, and audiobook).

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“Jumping Dog”

Photograph by Tino Soriano

A dog jumps into Lake Banyoles in northern Spain. The lake is the country’s second largest.

This and other blue images appear in LIFE IN COLOR, a 504-page book of 245 photographs divided into color chapters. The book is available at Amazon.com. To view a range of blue images, visit the National Geographic Blue Gallery.

A person can learn a lot from a dog…Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things — a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” JOHN GROGAN, author of Marley and Me