On Poetry and Culture Shock

My Poetry

Banks and bars

The autobiographical bit: there is actually a bank in the place where a café used to be. But I have lovely memories attached to the place and I can't translate my sense of loss into a haiku. 

En tu bar favorito
el que yo odiaba
han abierto otro banco.

A new bank has opened
in your favourite bar,
the one I used to hate.

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Pretty flowers

This baby probably is my most classically-themed poem.

Snowdrops on the ground,
White lilies on pots:
Will you live forty-two months?

Azahar en la rama,
camelia en un jarrón:
¿vais a vivir cuarenta y dos meses?

Work in progress

Edited to add Jose Angel 's suggestion. 


Qué asco de diccionario

Demasiados sinónimos para mi cobardía.


Fucking Thesaurus

Too many synonyms for my cowardice.

Horror Tanka

I was going to call this "fairy tale tanka" because I like my fairy tales bloody. But that doesn't sound right.

Cuando miras
Debajo de la cama
Y no hay un monstruo
Ten muchísimo cuidado
Mira bajo la almohada.

When you look under the bed
And there's no monster
With extreme care
look under the pillow




Let's say this again

I’m repeating a poem I only posted a month ago, I know. This little baby is, against my custom, sincere. It is maybe the first poem I ever write and don’t destroy in which I use the first person to talk about my own feelings. That’s why I didn’t like it at first and also why I thought it was cliché.

I don't like to give so much interpretation of my own poem, but in case anyone is reading me in it, I don't find this feeling a negative one. Not at all.  

Algo me falta;
Me siento como un ritmo
buscando melodía.

There’s something missing.
I feel I’m a rhythm
in search of a melody.


This might be part of a cycle, eventually; I don't know if it captures the mood of something loving and gentle but limited and unresolved.

Dos horas aquí.
Verte en esta burbuja
es viajar a un país exótico.

Here for two hours.
Meeting you in this bubble
Like travelling to distant lands.

Lust and Gluttony

Lujuria y gula.

Eres distinto del chocolate
porque ver chocolate no basta
pero no necesito de ti
más que saber que podrías ser mío.

Lust & Gluttony

You're not like chocolate at all
because it is never enough to see chocolate
but I need nothing of you
beyond the certainty you could be mine.


Little by little

For those of you interested in creative process gossip, this is absolutely autobiographical. The thing is, it is not my body that has been ill. Those of you that know me in the real world probably know what I'm talking about. It's inspired by a classical, Japanese one I'll post soon.

con el cuerpo casi nuevo
poquito a poco.

With my body nearly new
Baby steps.


Martial Arts.

This is dedicated to Maruja, even though she doesn't like poetry. Thanks for the tea and everything else.

Bang. Bang. Ipon.
No jewels like beads of sweat.
No music like a body against a mat.

Bang. Bang. Ipon.
Ninguna joya más hermosa que el sudor.
Ninguna música más hermosa que el impacto.


Saidi haiku!

Saidi is my favourite dance rhythm. It belongs to Egyptian folk music and it is intrinsically happy. I think the rhythm of the Spanish version of this haiku is closer to it than the English one.

The world would be a much better place if more things happened to a Saidi beat.

dum-TAK, dum-dum TAK
A veces la Tierra gira
con ritmo Saidi.

dum TAK dum-dum TAK
sometimes the world can spin
to a Saidi beat.

Happy Spring

Today is the first day of spring, and International Poetry Day; this one is something I didn't know until today. The truly approppriate thing would be a poem on the beginning of spring, and there are thousands, my favourite being Alan Spence's

First warmth of spring
I feel as if
I have been asleep.

That one doesn't count because I have posted it loads of times. So I'm giving you one of mine instead, a bit of erotism to wish you happy spring loves.

The senses tanka.
In your slow caress,
your heartbeat makes my music.
Not just my eyes love
Your scent of salt, blood and sweat,
your pretty red chilli lips.

El tanka de los sentidos
En tu lenta caricia,
Los latidos de tu corazón son mi música.
No son sólo mis ojos los que aman
Tu olor a sangre, sudor y sal,
tus bonitos labios de chiles rojos.


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Algo me falta;
Me siento como un ritmo
buscando melodía.

There's something missing.
I feel I'm a rhythm
in search of a melody.


The beginning of spring: the orange blossom tanka

The most visible consequence of global warming in this corner of the world is that orange trees are in bloom a month too early.

Such simple beauty,
orange blossom, perfect scent.
Your flavour’s subtle.
What a miracle it would be
to hear you sing!

Belleza simple,
azahar, perfecto aroma.
Tu sabor, sutil.
¡Qué milagro sería
que nos pudieras cantar!



I'm a bit sorry to have said so loud and so recently that all poets are thieves and liars, including me. It screeches next to what I'm going to say next.

I composed this yesterday, because my grandfather, Zifra' s father, and my future, are all in the same place. With all my love to anyone who understands how this feels.

Agua somos.
En la Bahía de Cádiz,
Todas nuestras cenizas.

To water we return.
In the Bay of Cadiz,
Lie all our ashes.



Not meant to be taken seriously.

This one is not really supposed to be taken seriously. I think I have a handful of poems that I see as humorous,  or at least ironic, about love or rather erotism.

For those of you interested in the composition proccess, or just the gossipy bit, the whole poem is built around the first line. Someone said it to me in all seriousness, as a part of their seduction strategy. It didn't work, but I stole the line. I already told you that every poet is a thief and a liar and I'm no exception.

Primera impresión.

Con esos labios no puedes ser mala.
Esa cintura dice siempre la verdad.
Tienes caderas de buena persona.
Tus rizos son los más sinceros,
y tienes la piel más simpática.
Andas muy cariñosamente,
y es una lástima que no nos conozcamos.

First impressions

You can't be bad, with such lips.
Your waist always tells the truth.
You have kind, gentle hips.
Your curls are the most sincere,
and your skin, the friendliest I've seen.
It's a pity that we don't know each other.

a new one

Yesterday I did that poet thing that looks so terribly pretentious: At the meet of my town’s bloggers, as we were spreading over the sofas of a bar, I asked for a pen because I just needed to write down a poem. Yes, very exhibitionist of me... the poem involved a lot of tweaking and polishing, it wasn’t just a spark of sudden inspiration. Here it is.

Stiffness on my back.
Your warm hand hugs me
Three seconds longer than I expected.

Mi espalda, tensa.
Tu abrazo ha durado
tres segundos de más.

Tiny and sentimental.

I live in the heat and the dust.
Will you change my endless summer
for your occasional spring?



the bridges, the bridges

Los siete puentes
abrazando la ciudad,
a todos nosotros.

Our seven bridges
Hugging the city,
hugging us all.

The mantra goes:
Alamillo, Barqueta, Chapina, Triana, San Telmo, Delicias, Quinto Centenario.
A harp, a leap, a ship, a dance, a park, a road, a tower.
To Gran’s, to bars, to walk, way back, to class, to park, and trucks.

I find it very frustrating that I cannot translate this one into Spanish.


This haiku is dedicated to Zifra , because I think he likes this sort of thing.

A haiku has three lines,
seventeen syllables,
and one idea.

Un haiku: tres versos,
diecisiete sílabas,
una idea.

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To Martyn Bennett, now immortal.

Wilson Pickett, the singer of soul classics like In The Midnight Hour, has just died. January 30th is the first anniversary of Martyn Bennett 's death. Wilson Pickett was the sort of artist whose work everyone knows, but whose name is only known by his few dedicated fans. Martyn Bennett, on the other hand, was too brilliant and original for his own good and never got the success he deserved.  I knew he was diagnosed with a nasty type of cancer in the year 2000, and I suspected he was depressed, and we had emailed occasionally in the three vyears or so before his death. I'm still mourning him in the same way other people mourn family members or "real" rock stars.

This is my only poem in free verse in which the English version came before the Spanish one. It mixes my own feelings for Martyn with my memory of having to study in the hospital on my grandfather’s last days: I had an oral exam the morning after his death, and I pretended to be strong about the whole thing for a few days. And I stole an idea here and there from Jeanette Winterson, who has a novel, Written on the Body, that you should go and read right now.

A hospital is not a library.
A needle’s not a pen.
We sit and wait as your blood is replaced by ghosts.
As I think of your inky hair,
Most beautiful when sweaty,
Long wet tendrils falling over us.
Ink’s the key.
I used black ink to write poems about you,
As you mocked me (people use computers these days,
You know).
Your body is still waging war on itself,
And not

I’ll write poems about you
until the future gives up and makes you immortal.


Un hospital no es una biblioteca.
Una aguja no es una pluma.
Nos sentamos a esperar mientras los fantasmas sustituyen tu sangre.
Y pienso en tu pelo entintado,
Precioso cuando sudabas,
Largos tirabuzones húmedos sobre los dos.
La tinta es la clave.
Tinta china para componer poemas sobre ti,
Y te burlabas (eso se puede hacer a ordenador,
Por si no lo sabías)
Tu cuerpo sufre un golpe de estado,
Por eso,
voy a escribir poemas sobre ti
hasta que el futuro se rinda y te haga inmortal.

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