Phone Notes from Spain

Madrid

Strange thing about Madrid, even though I have only been here a short time it feels like a long time. It feels like I have been here my whole life or like I had come back at last to some other incarnation that has recognized its own shadow on the street.

The Desperate Bookshop

Was under repair. An American from Seattle who now lives in Paris was building new shelves for the bookshop in Madrid. He allowed me to browse the few desperate shelves that were still standing. One shelf was poetry. I read through a few collections, which seemed to me like the most desperate thing to do.

El Rey

Seems surreal to be sitting outside a Madrid theater at five am, seeing the garish, glowing advertisement for the Disney musical “El Rey Leon.” A homeless man approaches me with open hand. I reach in my pocket. The sun hasn’t come up but there is an orange light from the theatre marquee shining on us both. He smiles like the King of Night.

The Bolano Cafe

I saw a guy in a Madrid coffee shop who looked exactly like Roberto Bolano. Bolano lived in Spain. I spoke to the body double and told him he looked like the great Chilean writer and he said: “who?” From then on I referred to the coffee shop as The Bolano Cafe. Who knows what is possible in the metaphysical realm of fiction?

Gran Villa

Everyone on Gran Villa seemed to be tumbling down the street like acrobats from another dimension. In the evening light between blue and rose, I thought of Picasso’s “Family of Saltimbanques.” I joined the circus of the human family.

Salome

Her name was Salome. Salome. Our eyes met and for several seconds her Flamenco was suspended in that wild gaze when guitar strings come undone and even old men lose their heads.

 

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