Saturday, November 26, 2011


The dust has now well and truly settled from the August 21 climax of World Youth Day in Madrid - a Mass celebrated by the Pope attended by some 2 million pilgrims. As one of them I can say it was awesome. It was also exhausting given I lost my bed after heading off to find water etc and spent the wee hours of my 60th birthday roaming around in the dark, trying to avoid falling over fellow pilgrims.

This article gives an idea of some of the adventures in Spain..

(Pictured above) The happy Aussie wanderer at Toledo is found and claimed by a group of Brazilian  pilgrims

At least one poem had to emerge from all this, and it did. So here we go:

Spanish soil/Spanish soul

(El corazón de España)

España - mesmeric matador!!
Swirl your cape of colours
swirl red and orange,
launch ambushes of colour from
bus stops, billboards, anywhere
down these drowsy Aussie streets.

Hail God-burnt country -
now burning in the heart
still blazing in the mind;
ecstatic envoy, hail:
fevered and fervoured,
fantastic, yet focused as
El Greco the great at Toledo.

Slumbering Aussie, me,
awake, alive at last
wandering, wondering
this time-allotted grace
glimpsing traces of your
spirit-south: Cordoba,
Pedro Abad and Montoro.

Sensing your soul
flagging but immortal yet -
fading/flaring into view,
battered yet bounding bull,
searing orange supernova,
white hot even, in afternoon sun -
sizzling synapses to Madrid…

Fitful pulse throb beneath
scar tissue carved and
flapping loose – like the
scorched remaining arm of the
Homeless’ Christ, glass-encased,
redeemed in 800-year-old
Civil War-sacked Church.

Holy Toledo!!
Roaming with Brazilian pilgrims
who’ve adopted me
lone Aussie wanderer:
quixotic quintessence.
Tilting towards insanely
immaculate heights

I walk the cobblestones
where once El Greco walked,
till lost and all alone once more
I wander crazed in heat,
plummeting above chasms
portraying water above which
wheel wordless birds -

Ecstatic mutes
like St Teresa, St John of the Cross -
creation’s highest flyers
touching down on castle walls
at mighty Ávila this very day -
Teresa’s gaze dissolving earthly chains
John’s heart-hand bearing eloquence…

Recalling living love
aboard a bus from Pedro Abad
where Pura my host will always fare me well
from ancient laneway far below -
eyes locking mine, hand held to heart
my own forever held alive and burning
on Spanish soil long as life persists.