Proud to give a shout out to our friend in poetry, Major Jackson, who will be reading at The Betsy Hotel, presented in partnership with O, Miami Poetry Festival and The Academy of American Poets. Catch Major with Gerald Stern on April 28 in BBar (RSVP HERE).
for Mark Strand
Beneath canopies of green, unionists marched doggedly
outside The Embassy. Their din was no match
for light lancing through leaves of madrone trees
lining the Paseo then flashing off glossy black Maybachs
skidding round a plaza like a monarch fleeing the paparazzi.
Your voice skipped and paused like a pencil.
Layers of morning pastries flaked gingerly
then fell, soft as vowels, on a china plate. One learns
to cherish the wizened reserve of old world manners,
two blotched hands making wings of a daily paper
beside us between sips of café con leche, a demeanor
in short gentle as grand edifices along this boulevard.
Yet Guernica is down the street, and some windshields
wear a sinister face, sometimes two. Think Goya. Just south
of here, on the lower slopes of the Sierras, fields
of olive groves braid the land like a Moorish head, but
those sultans were kicked out long ago. In the lobby
of the Hotel Urban, I wait for a cab, my obedient rolling bag
like a pet beside me. I have loved again another city
but Madrid is yours: her caped olé’s, her bullish flag,
her glass pavilions and outdoor tables like a festival
of collaged laughter, our dark harbors finding level.
About This Poem
“Several years ago, my wife and I traveled to Madrid and had mid-morning breakfast with the great poet Mark Strand, whom I had met on several occasions in New York City. Upon hearing we would be in town, he extended an invitation to dine at his favorite restaurant, The Embassy. Our conversation ranged from national healthcare to the poet-friends of his generation to his early aspirations as a painter and the upcoming exhibit of collages in a New York City gallery. Afterwards, we walked along a grand boulevard to a bookstore in Salamanca where he made suggestions of works of fiction. Despite his waning health, he was stately and quite generous. I was happy to send him the poem a year before his passing, which he enjoyed and responded with characteristic grace.”