Alambra fills an aching void
With peace, calm and serenity,
A relic left still undestroyed
For saving mans’ humanity.

There is a sign above a door
That passers-by do not perceive,
Only the lonely look before
And note to read before they leave.

‘Da le limosna, mulher
‘Que no hay en la vida nada
‘Como la pena de ser
‘Ciego en Granada.’

The translation makes itself
Though Spanish mood is hard to catch;
Teeming fecundity of wealth
In any tongue takes time to match.

‘Give him alms, wife
‘Even worse than hunger
‘In our painful life
‘Is blindness in Granada.’


Along the narrow streets the waiting crowd
Stands in the warmness of an April eve,
While children play amid the chattering loud
Near hooded lads, each with a plastic reed.

The church’s heavy, timbered. double doors
Crash open as the Easter floats appear,
Amongst the vibrant crowd there is a pause
As Christ aloft, in all his pain, draws near.

The hooded lads push through to make a way,
Some trumpets sound a melancholic ring,
The Virgin’s float comes next, and starts to sway,
As if on cue, a man begins to sing.

The musical content of his song
Pleases me, but not for very long.
All this will carry on for many hours
As shuffling feet progress between church towers.


A distant hillside filled with olive trees
Reaches upwards to touch an azure sky
And there below, a long, white wall carries
The lambent image to enchant the eye.

A dusty figure on its lonely way
Wrestling with abstract thoughts, and where to eat,
Crawls ant-like under the impassive day
To the distant tree shade, from out the heat.

On the coarse ground I search within my pack
Where there is fruit and staple bread and cheese;
The prospect of a self-communing snack
Blends hunger with a contemplative ease.


The beggar holds me with his eye
His passive hand awaits my coin;
Another beggar going by
To give and two lives dis-enjoin.

And as I give, not with my heart
My thoughts are elsewhere as I go
With state of mind so far apart
Restlessly, twitching to and fro.

To check my inhumanity
And erase it with self pity
I see the way, far and lonely,
So push by and quit the city.


There is a smell about the waking world
That rolls back the intervening years
Just like the smell of baking bread
And yesterday’s sweat that disappears,

Washed away by clean, clear air
Distilled from blossom, hay and dew;
But arid, rugged Spain is not that fair,
And here it’s charms are different and few.

There is a pinkness in those distant hills
Where shadows grasp the chasms like some giant hand
And spreading warmth on snow high up, make scents
Rise and hover, above this glittering land.


On Vilches heights the graveyard sprawls
On the hillside towards the plain;
The dead are buried in deep walls
Half way to heaven, neatly lain.

The village lies around the brow
With red tiled roofs etched in the sky,
A vision of the here and now
That slowly moves up here on high.


As darkness pushes out the ebbing light
Warning there is little time to spare
For me to hurry on before the night
And seek some lodging on this thoroughfare.

Passing the men in the bars still drinking,
A woman sweeps the dust before her door
And young boys playing at bullfights, acting
With the stiff legged gait of the matador.


The hushed, dimmed interior encloses me
As from out the brilliant sunshine I step in
And from a bench let the outer world recede
To feel that crumpled figure’s power begin.

You looked straight into my eyes with your eyes, Jesus,
Your eyes were meant to have the effect that they did;
Piercing eyes, sorrowing and questioning eyes,
And with all the pain in the world that they hid.
But did you notice mine as I sat lonely
In Baeza? Could my loneliness be like yours?
Wasn’t your suffering meant to be only
For us? Where you sacrifice, we need applause.

Because we have to suffer to understand
That everything in life we shall have to lose,
And those two extremes which are in our command
Between your gift and our indulgence, choose.

Why heap around ourselves such dependencies?
Why buttress up our faintness with cherished ones?
While the reaction of our inadequacies
From the static of our imperfection comes.

The silence of your answers reverberate
Around the figures and candles of this shrine,
All lessons to my powerlessness relate
Yet, I know too, the decision is mine.

Gorged by questions,
It’s time for me to be on my way.
It was restful being here to see
You, Jesus. Goodbye, until another day.


The lonely road through empty landscape flows
The high up sun peers down on barren lands
A trail of coolish sweat beneath my clothes
To still strong legs……………and understands.

The mind is not so strong, the endless haze
Bears down………….to penetrate my eyes;
So images and fantasies…………….plays
Light-headedly……………to my surprise,

The mountain range is long since left behind
No figure to be seen along the track,
Foothills of fantasy invade my mind
Suburb of self-delusion keep coming back

There is no other vision except this
And any hope you seek is here at hand,
The blindness of the search can only miss
The lesson you are here to understand.

The race is lost, you failed the most.
The race is won, press on, press on
All will be revealed in some other way
When you least expect it, some other day.


There was a picture of you in my heart
That smiled when thinking all that lay in store,
The keen, bright quest that sought it all, and more,
The pearl within the oyster takes its part.

The years have now gone by and changed the tune;
That selfsame picture in my heart still smiles,
The time we share is now late afternoon
And I still plod along and count the miles.

I cannot ever ask you if you found
All that you hoped to find in life with me,
Perhaps a little bit of doubt, but we
Will make it to the happy hunting ground.


Now I abroad with freedom and my pack
Come evening nigh, half dream of going back,
To hear the bells within the tower chime,
And wander down long corridors of time.

July 1993