Two Dead Poets

Two Dead Poets

I enjoyed the WFNB readings last night. Thank you, Ronda, for organizing them, and thank you Susan, for hosting them. It was nice to see so many young friends gathered together on my zoom screen. I would have said ‘old friends’, but we don’t want to be reminded that yes, we are all getting older. Best wishes and many thanks to all who attended and congratulations to all the award winners.

Anyone interested in reading the rest of my memoir can read it by clicking on the link below. I will post a live reading of it on this blog later today.

MO – modus operandi –

  1. Click on the first link. The text of the story will appear on a different screen.
  2. Click on the live reading. The podcast – audio will appear on another screen.
  3. Turn on your volume.
  4. Turn on the podcast.
  5. Return to text screen (1. above).
  6. Read text while listening to the voice.

This will give you a unique audio-visual experience.

Two Dead Poets

I just completed the live reading. A Tour de Force. My longest single reading ever – over 12 minutes. My voice faltered a couple of times towards the end. My apologies for that.

Two Dead Poets
Live Reading

Rainstorm in Granada

Not the Alhambra, but a blood red sky!


 Black umbrellas burgeon beneath sudden rain.
Waterproof cloth opens to provide protection.
Churches fill with defenseless passersby.

The cigarettes they smoke flare shooting
stars through finger bars of flesh and bone.
After the rain, gypsy women flower in the street.

Carnations carve wounds in their sleek, oiled hair.
They offer good luck charms and fortune telling.

“Federico! Federico,” the gypsies cry out,
“tomorrow, the guards will take you from your cell.
They will drive you to the hills and shoot you dead.”

“Tonight,” Federico replies, “I’ll paint the city red.
And tomorrow… ” “Tomorrow,” the gypsies sigh,
“the Alhambra’s walls will run red with your blood.”

Comment: I have made some minor changes to the sonnet that was published in Iberian Interludes (available online at this link) The sonnet is a Golden Oldie, going back to our visit to Granada in 1986. I asked my pre-teenage daughter if she would like to go to a country where there was no snow in winter. She laughed at me. “Don’t be so silly, dad, there’s no such thing as a winter without snow.” We got to Madrid on January 5 and awoke to 3 inches of snow on January 6. “There, dad,” she said. “Told you so.” We took the train down to Granada and that year they had six inches of snow in the city center, for the first time in forty years! It also rained, and this is a poem about the Granada rain.

Iberian Interludes




Solidarity screamed out from posters and stamps
that carried snapshots of the dead poet’s face.

We still haven’t found his body.
He said we never would.

They tortured him first, taunted him for being homosexual;
trussed him up; laid him face down; then shot him,
for a joke, in the offending area.

He took a long time to die. When he did,
they dumped his body in some hillside ossuary
above his home town. But first they carved
the bullets out of his corpse,
three from the anal tract,
keeping them as souvenirs.

Next day his followers were put to death.
Waverers were soon convinced by bullets
lodged at the base of another’s skull.

Later that week, Fascists, drunk, laughed
uproarious in their favorite bars.
They dropped the bullets into white wine,
watching the blood trail as it drifted down,
then drank to the re-establishment
of what they now called law and order.


Another Golden Oldie, also from Broken Ghosts (Goose Lane, 1986).  The Spanish poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca (poetic Generation of 1927), predicted the mystery surrounding his own death and the unknown location of his body in a poem from his surrealist collection, Poet in New York. The recent decisions in Spain to open Civil War graves and seek the identity of victims via DNA testing and other more modern means has also led to the controversial reopening of many of the wounds of a Civil War that never really healed in many parts of the country. The Basque problems and the recent troubles in Catalonia bear witness to the continued memories of Civil War and post-Civil War repression.

Christopher Columbus

IMG_0141 2.jpg

Christopher Columbus

leaves foot prints,
wake to his imagined ships,
dark, in the snow,
the unusual snow,
the snow they haven’t seen
in Granada city centre
for forty years.

It settles on roofs,
forms dark ridges
where the sun catches it
and turns it into
wet, dripping snow.

The Alhambra:
a wonderland of stiff,
white starched buildings,
stands out against
the mountain’s mass.

We click our cameras
and say “Just like home!”

We don’t realize
we’re repeating history
for it snowed then,
as it snows now
and Columbus
walked these streets
like any Canadian tourist,

short of breath,
short of cash,
the seams of his boots
letting in the cold,
wet snow,
you know how it is
on Yonge Street,
Main Street,
any street,
any town
in Canada.

And then the miracle:
he’s walking away,
leaving it all behind,
when the messenger
catches up to him and says:

“The war’s over:
there’s money now.
She says ‘Go for it!’
The ships you want,
the dream, the world,
they’re all yours now.”

Christopher Columbus
fell on his back,
flapped his arms,
and created winged shapes:

white-sailed ships
sailing in the snow.