‘A man is not from where he is born, but where he chooses to die’

Señor, I am something monstrous fat –
a redundant admission, I’ll admit,
for you see well enough
the pillowy prodigality of my gut.
Don’t stand too close, señor,
for I may burst,
and give your donkey a fright.

I like to advertise my want
of vanity. So yes, señor,
I am fat.
And broke.
A spectacle of modest interest,
come to your town to sweat
and smoke and glower
in this infernal heat.

You have a face, señor –
a face I like very much.
A face made in this heat.
Ruined, too, in this heat,
if you don’t mind my saying so,
which of course you don’t,
being too old to feel insulted.

But your face I like very much,
and your donkey’s face,
equally ruined.
His name, I take it,
is Platero?
I’m fond of ruins, señor.

I’m a sentimentalist at heart,
for my heart is rotten,
and ruined faces such as yours,
and your donkey’s,
give me such sweet fraudulent
joy that I laugh, señor,
at my own brilliance.

You were quite gallardo
when young, señor.
Isn’t that so?
No stranger to the corrida,
Muy macho.
Of course, there’s no-one like that now.
The young men of today,
señor, wouldn’t you say,
their cojones (you’d use
that word?) are somewhat

Well, I salute you,
my Quixote.
And you too, my Platero.
There’s a carrot for you
(I meant the donkey,
but never mind).
We snatch,
in this squalid world,
at mean delights, and try
to hold them,
if we can.
My grip’s slippery.

And now there’s dust
in my beard.


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