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Callejón del Duende in Cádiz,
a narrow curving street. Legends abound.
Perhaps it was a smugglers’ route,
“Duende” being the leader of the band.
A captain met a lovely gipsy girl,
a little later, in Napoleonic times.
Quarrels broke out and he was murdered there.
At All Saints, candles are pushed through the bars,
appeasing spirits heard to wail inside.

But, from the archaeological point of view,
it’s just the runnel from a Roman circus,
a place where chariots raced and sometimes crashed,
and gladiators fought, some to the death.
So, what flowed out from there? Blood, sweat and piss?

These days it’s blocked and is no thoroughfare.
A locked gate keeps the vandals out. I see
bouquets of flowers and plastic dwarves inside.
Duende is a house spirit. A garden gnome’s
a parody that lacks all dignity.

Duende is another kind of muse,
a darker one, possession of a kind.
For years, I’ve followed concerts in my town.
I feel it when I hear it, yet don’t know
how to define this unseen quality.
I’m here with a Flamenco club, we’re all
Duende groupies, every single one,
although we never ever use the word.
“Auténtico” is all that we´ll admit.

We walk the city looking for blue plaques,
and bronzes of performers, frozen in time,
who’ll sing and dance no more upon these streets.
No Grecian Gods. A normal human shape.
La Perla, slightly chubby, middle-aged,
her simmering energy trapped in this form,
reminds me of a kettle on the hob.
Chano Lobato, wiry, in a chair,
gesturing to an unseen audience.
I saw him sing twice, just before he died,
a true performer still at 80 plus.

That night we heard a young gitano sing,
We all chipped in to pay the singer’s fee.
How many voices of the good and great
had echoed through that smoke-stained cellar space?
I say that he’s perhaps a future star,
but know the fickle Duende can´t fix that.
It’s not the voice. There is no guarantee.
Chano and others all had something else.
Grit? The ability to walk the path
the whole way to the end, wherever that is.

Fiona Pitt-Kethley


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Greg Murphy
September 11th, 2017
3:09 PM
Beautiful work. More please!

Bestrice O'Malleynonymous
August 31st, 2017
7:08 PM
Swashbuckle on! Your poems speak to me.

Beatrice O'Malleyonymous
August 31st, 2017
7:08 PM
Duende. When art reaches out and pulls one in. Yes!

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