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At the gates of Remembrance and Other Poems by Christiane Conesa-Bostock

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At the gates of Remembrance

Here I stand at the gates of Remembrance
between those who remember everything
and amnesiacs who forget it all.

Some days, you’re allowed in and today I
see my grand-father. He kept verbena
lollies and biscuits in his suit pocket.
His moustache bestowed him a Dali look.
His grey eyes could detect little lies and
at times, dreaming of mantillas, guitars
and black castanets his feet and his hands
stuttered a Flamenco. Olé chicos!

But now inflexible ushers of Time
have barred this lovely path to Remembrance.

Tomorrow I’ll stand again at these gates
between those who remember everything
and amnesiacs who forget it all.

Raisons d’être

After Goya’s El sueño de la razon produce monstruos

1.

Come out of your slumber.
Lift up your head.

The table is strewn with paintbrushes and notebooks.
This is your raison d’être.

You cannot stop
Napoléon’s squads firing
on condemned bodies rolling
in the bloody gutters
of a townscape with a steeple
bathed in the pale light
of an early morning
rising.

Do not take it upon yourself to reform mankind
she will only turn her deaf ear.

You cannot stop evil
but you can paint.
Accept the feline that stares
the owl suspended in the air
the bats and capture
the atrocities of El Tres de Mayo.

Monsters of death will always hover around us.
They come from every direction
on the brutal winds of consanguineous humanity.
Even Saturn devoured his own children.

2.

I look at my father’s photograph
on a tarjeta postal. He is twenty-two.
His hair is held in place with pomade.
He stands with three young Republicans.
One of them has his arm around his shoulders.
The Internationale still rings in their ear
but today they have traded their uniforms
for pointy shoes , jackets and wide pants
to face the street  photographer
and experience ordinary life in their native land.

They speak of their girls.
Mine has blue eyes.
Mine too. We are getting married when I go back to France.

They smile that foolish ignorance
of  brave youths demanding justice and freedom
determined to stop the Franquistas –
with their bare hands,  if necessary.

They take it upon themselves to reform mankind
but he  will only turn his deaf ear.

They can’t stop the atrocities of war
but they can return home to their fiancées –
the frontier will be closed soon
under the pale light
of an early morning
rising.

I read on the back of this postcard
Barcelona 23rd of July 1937 6 days
Valencia      Murcia     Cartagena     Valencia
Uriel from the 3rd of September to…

Monsters of death will always hover around us.
They come from every direction
on the brutal winds of consanguineous humanity.
Even Saturn devoured his own children.

3.

Another table is strewn with paintbrushes and notebooks.
This is Picasso’s raison d’être.

He could not stop
guardsmen firing
on defenceless men, women
and children rolling
in the bloody gutters
of a townscape with a steeple
bathed in the pale light
of an early morning
rising.

He would have liked
to take it upon himself to reform mankind
but he knew that it would only turn its deaf ear.

He could not stop the rivers of warm blood.
He could not stop a hail of bombs
but he could portray in Guernica
a nightmarish cityscape,
without colour,
a woman wailing over her dead child
a horse falling in agony  speared by a bayonet
a dead soldier with a stigmata in his palm
a human skull
and the evil eye watching.
Watching.

Monsters of a dormant reason
will always hover around us.
They come from every direction
on the brutal winds of consanguineous humanity.
Even Saturn devoured his own children.

El tres de mayo de 1808 (The Third of May 1808) is a painting completed in 1814 by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In the work, Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies during the occupation of 1808 in the Peninsular War.

Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain, by German and Italian warplanes at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces on 26 April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

 

Grand Canyon

With a cry of wonderment stuck in my throat
I stand with my group, at the edge of the gorge
carved by the defiant Colorado River.

In the layers of rust-coloured rock
I read the memoires
of six million years of existence.
There is peace and harmony
up here
until they are disrupted
by a swarm of helicopters.

In the eyes of the Hualapai Chief
– who welcomes us in full head-dress –
I witness
the ushers of time who scatter humans
like seeds over a thick blanket
of dreaming fossils.

The bald eagle soars
over its replica that time sculpted in the rock
over immutable plateaux
over unending strata
over bare Joshua trees
over the gravel road that leads us
back to Las Vegas.

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Christiane Conesa-Bostock was born in Lyon, France. Her mother, Jeanne Simoens, was French and her father, Ramon Conesa, was born in Spain but had lived in France from a young age. Conesa-Bostock studied languages and as part of her studies she lived in Wokingham, UK as a French Assistante giving conversation classes with students. Later she migrated to Australia, settling in Tasmania, where she continues to live and teach. Conesa-Bostock obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree from the University.

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