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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Poësie | Poetry > English > Published poets

24 notes

Anton Krueger - 2010-10-19


nine notes on lisbon1

1. folks

folks from the smaller countries
– lithuania, portugal, mayotte –
have this slightly deferential
slowness so attractive:
they know they’re no
world power ...


2. love letters

fernando pessoa courted her with ten years of words,
but finally, indignant, she tells him he’s a personne ...

(in portuguese pessoa is a person,
but in french it’s nobody ...)

he was in love with words and not the flesh,
his love extinguished him –


3. juggler

a juggler with his two dogs walks across the plaza
in front of the national theatre shouting: love, love, love ...

in my hotel room i’m watching pornography as
louise runs a bath ...

the tramline runs past a poster saying,
do something positive – sleep.


4. sleepy lisbon

stately buildings
slowly sinking in
to an emptying centre.


5. only once

the monastery, the church,
the palace, the crypt have
ceased to fulfil their functions, 
only then can they open their
doors and represent what
they no longer are.


6. walking tour

our guide has told the stories so often before,
he tells them now w/out any passion:

– a cardinal’s affairs with a whole convent of nuns
– the noble families butchered by the marquis de pombal
– bishops thrown from their parapets, their bodies dragged
around masonic streets by madmen for a week …

tales explained & clarified to the point of seeming
ordinary, as a logical progression of consequences ...


7. on the subway

two suits in recognition gravitate
towards each other’s orbit in the
mottled population of the carriage ...


8. at lisbon aeropuerto

i keep thinking i’ll see someone i recognise;
but of course i don’t – i only see everybody
i recognise as those others also operating
within the realm of the gods, moving smoothly
through the clean world, boarding planes,
coasting on the shifting light, afloat in dineros ...


9. these days

these are the last days of the traveller,
fifty years ago air riding was exotic
& difficult & expensive & in fifty years
the resources will be done ...

they’ll be marvelling at how easy it was
for us to skip around here ... by then they’ll
be escaping the noxious fumes, cloistering
terrified in their shacks ...

the future will be in awe at our sipping espressos,
waiting for a delayed flight to barcelona
on a sunday night, the last able
to traverse the earth 
with such impeccable glibness ...


six notes on barcelona

1. park guëll

we angle towards the birdsong,
but everywhere’s in earshot of the
electronically enhanced guitarists
competing for our attention, and the
ever present pneumatic drilling of
the barcelona soundscape ...


2. sound

barcelona is like being
at the dentist for days,
it’s a good thing that
the visuals make up for
the audio ...


3. tourists

here tourists are showing other tourists around –
the tourist sub-culture having long since shaken off
its frangible ties to authenticity:
a south african shows us around the gothic city,
and a camp black englishman guides us to the flamenco.
i ask him what it meant, all that stamping –
what were they singing? he laughs:
you’re asking me? hands flapping
in exaggerations of disbelief ...


4. two legs bad

in the queue for another gaudi ...
the world  has got so full we
consumers are struggling to
stand on our hind paws in the sun,
backs creaking, unused, still,
to our bipedalism ...

did antonio g imagine his spongy constructions
were going to create this endless stream, that he’d
have us walking through his rooms the city full?
did he know he’d be hurting my back like this?


5. break it

gaudi’s soft ceramics
broken to fold –
cracked and broken again, to
bend the stone and plaster,
much like helen martins ...

6. tradition

why has nobody continued gaudi’s lineage?
why has nobody taken the tradition further?
instead everybody wants to break free today,
cursed by illusions of individuality ...

six notes on madrid2

1. war stories

whatever europe has inflicted
on the world it’s done 
to itself times ten ...
russia / spain / portugal /
poland / czech / germany
where ever has such
suffering been seen?


2. blood wedding in madrid

lorca’s play contains the two great themes
– love & death / marriage & murder –
all that passionate hand-clapping, those
wrenching flamencos, all that slapping,
every second intense; must be all the
garlic and onions does it to the blood …


3. early morning madrid

-> there seems to be one channel devoted entirely to selling
a vibra-thing helps you streamline your thighs & breasts.
-> other channels offer toenail buffers, hair extensions,
-> and then there’s one committed entirely to synchronised swimming ...


4. in the gallery


francesco de goya’s
la mujer restido
is sexier than his
la mujer desnudo.


before it can appreciate an image,
the crowd glances instinctively down
for the sign(ature) signalling whether
they should be impressed or not.


on images of martyrs:

people wonder where violence in the movies comes from –
look to the galleries, look to the churches, not only
the tortured christ on the cross, but also martyrdom
as glory; how dying painfully for belief has been
venerated – all the terrible cruelties inflicted in the
name of dignity, valour, honour, all that bullshit ...


museo de sofia reine:

guillermo perez villalta –
beautiful art about artistry;
i want to be part of that world ...
in the schizo 70’s, chema cobo
advocates "art instead of revolution"
they "ignored the dictatorship and
to them it was as if it never existed."


connecting with dusty old friends:

schwitters, picabia, tanguy, arp, ernst, miro
the gang’s all here ...

for much of the time, i reckon
dali and picasso were (only) joking,
& much of it is (just) silly’s
the reason i like it ...


good thing i left my camera in the locker,
i’d have been trying to capture everything
instead of looking at anything ...

long day on the floor means
too much surrealism
can harm one’s soles.


5. further reflections on madrid tv

in spain one finds people with
strange spidery tattoos covering
the whole of their heads being
taken seriously on television
talking about finances and that ...


6. snapshot at the airport

an old guy w/ ragged white hair under
a dirty yellow baseball cap, wearing
an old t-shirt under an ill-fitting suit,
is protective of his small, stained "birke cruises"
kitbag. his pants ride up his shins as he
sits there, reading ...

when we arrived he was surrounded by
chairs from a previously boisterous table,
but one by one people have been asking him
if they can take a chair ... so slowly they’ve been
disappearing, and eventually the waitress clears the deck
entirely and now there he sits w/ his magazine
at an empty table, all the chairs having left,
nobody to trouble him now ...

behind him a woman walks
passed in a bright spring dress
thirty years too young for her.


1 “nine notes on lisbon” was previously published in New Coin, 45(2), 2009 and was the runner-up for the Dalro Poetry Prize, 2009.

2 “six notes on madrid” was first published in Incwadi, Spring 2009:  http://incwadi.wordpress.com/spring-2009.