The Chair

From the thrift store on South
we lugged the old thirty-dollar armchair
past the late summer idlers
to the car, strapped it to the back
and carried it off to a new
seventh-floor dorm home.

It graced the corner beside the rug,
swirls of green and orange
velvet print made louder
under a cheap lamp, tamed
to a vibrant clash in the wash
of morning light,

its hideous brilliance forgiven
for the plush dimensions
and stout, loving arm rests.
“We might need a slip for that.”
My roommate upon one look at it

wrinkled her nose. I laughed
and we took turns sinking into
the ugly chair and throughout
the year outside the tall windows
the seasons changed. In the chair

quiet things were done —
brief naps, love letters,
books studied, poems copied,
written, read. By night our neighbors
came around, sat, made us
die of laughter. The marching band

boys waged war in the hallways,
and their hostages fled
to our room for safe haven —
all night the doors slammed,
hearts broke, alcohol ran.

Our wardrobes changed.
We hardly looked back.
And whenever I think of the past
I’m convinced it must still be
happening somewhere, somehow
on a distant fabric of time

the sun is still reaching into
all the corners of that room,
she is still translating Neruda
on the bottom bunk
under a yellow floral quilt.

And I’m writing about how
much I love that cellist
and if he feels the same,
cradled in the armchair
which we never did cover up
with anything pretty after all.


The limestone angel was Michael

the one on the sepulcher

and there also under glass
(robbed of foot, almost faceless)

and through each figment of love
or hate which was carried: illuminated,

washed out by each dark corner
you likened to lust

he is that creature in the tapestry
a woman at war,
the one with the chain-mail

and spear straight as divinity
eyes not seeing who crawls

underneath, who passes from
heart to stone: not the one who fell,

not the acacias through
the walled cloister, nor I,

dreaming visitor.



Photo by: Sharon Mollerus

11 Ways to Leave Madrid

1. Tune in to old rock songs in a red car.  Driving away from the city you press your feet into the windshield, relish the feeling of going along a highway driving away, into the mountains

2. At the zoo, the worker ants bring me back to my garden. I peer into their glass farm like a kid. The big fish swirl above, a recurring dream

3. Anger rises from sitting places, sadness and anger dwell in common rooms, they have teeth

4. Pack a tin full of ice cream from the corner shop. Heat descends onto the paths home, between the big banana trees

5. A summer bath, a child’s game of basketball while the sun goes down

6. Evening under the looming monastery, we watch the awful singer-songwriter on stage, sneak away from the crowd stepping carefully over the cobbled stone. The town smells of hot dogs and popcorn and Valencian ice cream

7. Stay in bed, because you want to follow the plotline of some other hidden life. The sun bears down and you bury the feeling that another day has passed

8. To-do lists grow, shorten, lengthen, pause

9. The old bear in the plaza sees more tourists. Everyone else has left, it is a ghost city of visitors and bored wanderers waiting for something to happen

10. Think about years before this city was ever your city,  you saw every corner and said it wasn’t enough, and it turned into a given; estrangement, joy. A new heart, on the other side of doubt

11. Pool laps, after all the children have left


Your glance makes me great
Wish we were alone, the two of us
Wandering through Madrid, 
Without anything to say,
Because nothing is important
When we make memories
Through the streets of Madrid. 

– Maldita Nerea, “Tu Mirada Me Hace Grande”