Fellah Hallucinations in Lavapiés


Lines are not more than you. Don’t let yourself be completed by a line. They only have conceptual elegance.  But they have neither beautiful dresses, nor fashonable hair.

Madrid graffiti

In the taberna alforro, an elegant woman invites her company with a red vermouth in hand.  Her face sparkles of aged pleasures and her eyes shine with youthful passions.  As she sits agelessly, she shares tales of exile.  A childhood of defiance and initiation in Tanger, followed by flight to Europe, working at what she could put her hand to: laundress, concierge, waitress, and prostitute, or as some now prefer to call this exercise, sex work.  Her virtues in this latter took her to Barcelona, Genova, Paris, Lisbon and finally Madrid.  And with every point of passage, stories lived and told, and on occasion, recorded.

Far from us any desire to judge; on the contrary, so much wisdom shared as it was on this day only left to me the pleasure of listening. Today, she lives modestly, but comfortably, on monies saved and infrequent work as a seamstress.

As the hours passed, she confessed the existence of a red book of poetry where she would, still, weave portraits of lands and times lived.

Without wishing to share the circumstances in which I was given the opportunity to journey over this tapestry – discretion in this instance obliges – I share with the curious and the hungry, a poem (in translation), a poem of hallucinations in Lavapiés, Madrid, authored by Rosa Brava.


I saw in Lavapiés
Tapas dancing with cañas
Wine sliding past mint teas
Paellas mixing with curries and couscous
Haram and Hallal without bearings.

I saw in Lavapiés
Malatesta kissing soufis
Vegans jousting with bullfighters
Hipster marketeers of dreams
Swimming between veils.

I saw in Lavapiés
Vedanta hindus dancing flammenco
And San Isidro children playing with Ganesh
As angels tilled the soil.

I saw in Lavapiés
Pierced tatoos bleeding their last
Over fruit and legumes
Reincarnated in maté filled cups
Drunk by gods.

I saw in Lavapies
A pair of shoes tap dancing
On  a garbage bin
To the rhythm of crippled canes
To the whistles of wheeled chairs.

I saw in Lavapiés
An enchanted house
Coloured by rainbows
Sharing with all who enter
Love without reason.

I saw in Lavapiés
Hands exploring tables
Lips travelling through space
Darting tongues in
Deep stary seas.

I saw in Lavapiés
Hearts beating against
Blessed orders
Comfortable hiearachies
Sleepy domesticity.

I saw in Lavapiés
The lost with no lost and found
The hurt, the wounded, the bled
Singing with pigeons in
Squares of stone.

I saw in Lavapiés
Gujurati, Wolof, Derija, Cantonese
Romanian, Gallego, African French,
Brazillian and Mayan Castilian.

I saw in Lavapiés
The police with eyes wide shut
searching for true Iberians
Finding only walled faces
Severed tongues breathing their last.

I saw in Lavapiés
Salafis with chained cocks
Hookers with drooling cunts
Cats fucking dogs
In glasses of beer.

I saw in Lavapiés
Lesbians, gays, trans in
Dress and trans in sex
Playing with postures

I saw in Lavapiés
A souk on the lord´s day
Where republicans, communists, anarchists
Sold revolutions on the printed page.

I saw in Lavapiés
Inca princesses and Wolof Marabouts
Exchanging apocalyptic prophecies
Laughing at eminent demise.

I saw in Lavapiés
Beneath a boabab tree
Nelson Mandela smile at a
Dancing quimera.

I saw in Lavapiés
Graffited indignation, anger, dissimulation
Seduction, rebellion, love
With Christian breath resurrecting walls.

I saw in Lavapiés
With the eyes of  Arjuna

Tasting all worlds possible
In a drop of Krishna aguardiente.


15th of May 2014

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