The first of a few ‘Poems from Portugal’ 2016

by John Smallshaw

An owl hoots,
a warning?
I head East into the thieves market,
lucky horseshoes for sale and without fail they are in good supply.
Make no mistake
as they take no prisoners here.
Passing through the untied shoelace of cobblestoned lanes
I spy the woman through a postage stamp window, barred as if franked by the mailman, she plays patience and always with two cards missing, an unwinnable task, but she’s old and if old becomes a memory then she becomes one too.
An ocean, (if red is the ocean) of slanted tiles stretch beyond my imagination into an expanding horizon, I
smell coffee and sit local to the river watching the elegance of Portuguese pigeons, it’s dreamlike in its quality.
This morning,
the earthquake shook me awake even though that was centuries ago and still the owl hoots.
Earlier outside the church of Santo Estaveo
I am bound to its steps by my own chains,
this will change as the sun which works by its own memory rises above the fishing boats.
So easy to be here and to fall into the trap
So easy to tap dance my way through the one eyed shadows that wink over the bay,
in the distance, a tram, a man and his day stay longer than this moment in time.
To close the eyes
clues and sighs
It’s a splendid life
and though full of lies at incredibly cheap prices the thieves market is the place to be wary.
Each shadow now stronger as the day becomes longer and the hours get shorter.
I have sought solace in this place and found peace from within,
is yet to find me.

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