tangentially topical

The new General Data Protection Regulation came into force in the EU yesterday and the topic of security – albeit cyber security – has been in most people’s minds, which makes the photo at least slightly apposite.

The poem – written in Spain seven or eight years ago – is a repost, but it’s the best fit for the photograph – taken recently in England:


In the greystone shadow
of the old jail, three men share
smokes and anecdotes. Two
wear drab and polished black,
the third raises his cigarette
between cupped hands.
Metal glints at his wrists.

smoke gets in your eyes

Yesterday, when I commented that at this time of year the air is full of a mixture of mist, cloud and bonfire smoke, I forgot two other factors that fog the village skies.

First of all, many of the older houses in the area rely on log fires for heating and their chimneys are belching smoke before the sun is up.

Then there’s the smoke from cigarettes and cigars. When I moved to Spain, the smell of cigarette smoke shocked me; I’ve just found this in an article I wrote about Madrid nearly ten years ago:

[cigarette smoke] drapes itself around you like an over-friendly drunk in bars; it shares your table uninvited in restaurants

Continue reading “smoke gets in your eyes”

half found

pale lilac coming into flower

First of all a picture of a spray of lilac. Because it’s April and it’s about time there were lilacs.

And now some talk of poetry. Because it’s April and even if I’m not managing a poem a day, I am trying to focus a bit more than I sometimes do.

I posted a ‘found poem’ in Spanish a few days ago (yesterday’s poem) along with an unsatisfactory translation into English. In fact the bus station notice about ‘security recommendations’ that the text was taken from used to be much longer and much more detailed. It had caught my attention in the past and I found an old copy of the complete version in my notebook.

This time I have taken more liberties with the ‘translation’, although none of the ideas in the poem are entirely mine: they all come from the Spanish original.
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eternal questions

I have been struggling with line breaks in my poetry for years. Even so, I am a bit taken aback by a friend’s email promising me a copy of a text “which should definitively answer the question of ‘Why did you put the […] line break there!?'”

In my last post (on the present poetic) and in follow up comments, I have been pondering some of the reasons behind choosing to write in the present tense (a subject I intend to revisit soon).

In other posts about first-person narrators I have considered the question of the writer/narrator dichotomy and why I so often write in the first person if I am not writing about myself.
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good hunting

Up on top of Puerto del Pico, the pass that crosses the Gredo mountains on the road leading north from us to Ávila, there’s a sign:

Signpost: coto de cabra montés: prohibido espantar a los animales. Ley de Caza Art. 33, Apd. 17

It says that there are mountain goats in the area and that it’s prohibido espantar a los animalesDo not frighten the animals – which, at first sight, seems reasonable enough.
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In a story on 20 Minutos, the on-line version of one of Spain’s free newspapers, The Secretary of the Real Academia Española, Darío Villanueva is quoted as having said:

“El Diccionario no puede ser políticamente correcto porque la lengua sirve para amar, pero también para insultar. No podemos suprimir las palabras que usamos cuando nos enfadamos o cuando somos injustos, arbitrarios o canallas.” *

I find this odd, as I thought the whole point of the RAE was prescription not description.
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day of reflection

Today is a day of reflection prior to the Spanish elections tomorrow, and the Junta Electoral has reminded us that on such days la ley prohibe todo acto de propaganda – the law bans the staging of any act of propaganda or electoral campaigning.

That has been ruled to include the recent protest gatherings – las manifestaciones y concentraciones – across the country, so I suppose I must keep quiet and reflect. (But without concentrating.)

blank mirror with books
"I stare at the ceiling/ I look very wise"
Continue reading “day of reflection”