Author: Paul House

Poetry: A Garbled Message

Fending off scrubland and bare, blue mountain

The town huddles in a heap and appears to slide

Almost lazily away from the slow moving river.

Originality created and arranged easily

By the gloom trapped inside each filthy passage.

Garbage piles against dirty, brown walls,

Crammed together and splintering in the sun.

And now and again a scrap of paper

Will fill huge as a sail and deny these still

October nights with a careless movement,

Vulgar, obtrusive and far too sudden,

Like the iron bridge which astonishes the dark

With such bright lights and emptiness, asking

For the beige mac, the turned-up collar and trilby,

The mysterious meeting, the garbled message,

When there is only me and the stone Roman bridge,

Illuminated and from another time.

The road from Santiago and the sandalled

Pilgrim loaded down with belief is no more than

A thing remembered or to wish for. But still,

High above the town, the twin Baroque towers

Of the cathedral resist change, insist on

More than a casual glance as I stand here now,

Balconied above the square, safe with French songs,

Edith Piaf and my cultivated tongue

Which nobody understands, and their so strange

Words which I try to learn, and don’t.

Then suddenly to see you simply among

These narrow streets and crowds of people,

Long boots and beautiful, is more than enough

To recall something bright in life after all. 

Sample Chapters

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Poem for Anna •  Mandelstam and Mayakovsky •  The Lighted Window  •  Alone with the Years •  The Poet Tires •  Something there is •  La Madrugada •  Postcard of a Golden Retriever •  Shellfish •  Miguel Hernandez •  At the Edge of the Ebro •  Gone •  Playing Cards •  That's Where I Belong •  An Abstract Perfection •  Pearls in a Glass •  Poem for Susie •  Mornings in Malasaña •  Leo •  A Garbled Message •  Gnome •  Old Friends •  More About Penguins •  Ghosts •  Poem for Nelly •  Good Friday in Salamanca •  T.L.P. •  What It Is About •  The Blind Man And His Guide •  The Smell Of Winter •  For No Other Reason •  Poem for Linda