‘Guernica’ is a large 1937 oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

Postcard from Madrid


A postcard without a return address arrives from Madrid,

exposing the beauty of the artist’s mind.

I lose myself in the beauty of ugliest things—

the jigsaw of bones—the company of skulls, the army of arms—

bodies blown away by bombs, scattered across

the wooden walls, the creaking floor, the damp corners.

Out of the darkness, a scream frees itself

from the mouth of a woman who’s clutching her dead

child with all her might. Legs rooted to the ground, another

woman struggles to move ahead, to break through

the cracks in the plank flooring. Flames

consume a woman walking by, her

cries of terror ring in the air—the only sound you’ll ever

hear when the mad bull tramples you. Or, say a spear

runs right through your body, and you become

the horse screaming in anguish. From the jagged lamp,

a shower of bombs land on you—in the Fascist debris,

you are a soldier lying defeated, holding

a splintered sword—and then a white poppy

pushes itself out, trying to inhale a lungful of life.

I keep staring at you, the dead ones,

and for a moment, forget to blink, breathe, and become.





Poetry by Yayāti
Read 233 times
Written on 2019-12-19 at 12:11

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Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
You seem to like your poems to be very descriptive. In this case, especially, you've found the perfect subject for that sort of writing. Bravo!

Kathy Lockhart The PoetBay support member heart!
Powerful imagery reflecting the art of Picasso. Your words captured me and took me through the ruins of war like a tango. Well done!

Thomas D The PoetBay support member heart!
This is an excellent poem, vivid in the way that Wilfred Owen is vivid, evoking that mute and appalled recognition of the realities of war.

As for poetically technical matters, I wonder if the second line of the poem is necessary. Also, I'd favour a tweaking of "in the fascist debris of war" to the simpler but equally eloquent "in the debris". Maybe keep "fascist"; but the "shower of bombs" does tell us we're talking about war!

I cherish so much the image of the white poppy "trying to inhale [a] lungful of life." Some might have a problem with the fact that poppies don't have lungs. But I think the image can stand, and be taken on its own terms.

And I am beneficially startled by "the only sound you'll ever hear when the mad bull tramples you." That's an affecting line.

Well done!