52 Poems for 2013, 28/52: Catalonian Catalogue

Douglas Thompson writes,

Here is the 28th poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:

CATALONIAN CATALOGUE

Dali and Gala
entirely lunatic deities
revered as dead royalty
of this mad nation
you fabulous bejewelled birds
in my mind’s eye, crazed by heat
your ghosts bestride the moonscape
volcanic serpentine coast
at Cadaqués and Port Lligat
like elephants on mile-high legs
sporting leopard skins and parasols.

Gaudi, living as a penniless tramp
In the crypt of your own masterpiece
not so much unfinished as unstarted
your work and name adored by all
while your face remained obscured
forbidden to be photographed in vanity
you dedicated yourself to God.
In history now you stumble forever
under a passing tram, weak with hunger
and abstinence, deafened by the singing of angels
which none could hear. Unrecognised, you bow
receiving your exquisite death.

In Figueres surrealism meets us
everywhere, flocks of birds go berserk
as dense as sudden rain
in all the village squares
while dogs howl inexplicably
as if alerted by some inaudible music
as if Gala put something in the water
the octogenarian landlady has a display
of lillies growing out of taxidermied loaves
in a neon fishtank.

In Cadaqués our drinks
are served from the hollowed-out chest cavity
of a papier-mâché tailor’s dummy.
After dark every twisting cobbled alleyway
bristles with slinking cats
under smoky haloes of lamplight
you crouch in terror
at the sudden sight
of an enormous outline
at the head of a shadowy staircase
like some nocturnal tiger
which is just a rock of course
phantoms abound, everything is masquerade.

In Girona
I am awakened by haunting voices
young and threatening from the street outside
as if floating across history
from the Civil War
Ca-ta-loon-ya, Ca-ta-loon-ya
on this National Day
in the year of Scotland’s first parliament

I reflect upon the virtue
of venerating your own lunatics
and tolerating nobody else’s.

~

I wrote this one in Catalonia in the summer of 1999, and I guess it’s fairly self-explanatory. (Read more)

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Filed in News, Stories on July 7, 2013