Romani Heroines

by Francisca Perona

Heroínas gitanas

I believe that rebuilding history is of vital importance. And in this work of rebuilding and understanding history it, should be mandatory to include the history of the Romani people, and not as an isolated phenomenon but as one that is integrated into the history of Catalonia, Spain, Europe and the world. We must carry out a critical review from different paradigms and from the perspective of a people and shine a light on the footprints and cultural richness that we Roma have left over the centuries.

This demand has certainly not been included within recent political and social trends in Catalonia and Spain. We should consider this present moment as a time for Roma to claim our right to dignify our own history.

Preferences in regards to social policies for the Romani people have never been decided by Roma based on our own analysis of our needs, but have rather been determined in a top-down manner. Policies affecting Roma should not be limited to mere acts of recognition. Recognition is positive, but efforts of a more cross-cutting nature are needed. Although the recognition of our culture and history should be the first step, it should be accompanied by a series of effective policies in other areas, because otherwise real social transformation will never take place.

I was born into the world of Romani associations. My father and a few of my uncles became involved in Romani activism in the 1960s. After more than 25 years of work, I have seen many political changes and consider myself a veteran. And with the permission of those reading this, I will take the liberty of expressing myself in a direct and simple way.

Many associations have been working for decades on vindicating and working for the Romani people. We have lived through a number of political phases as well as different working approaches, including: re-education, welfarism, paternalism, outside management of our own processes as well as providing guidance and taking decisions for us as if we were children.

Many of us have for several decades called for the historical recognition of Roma in Catalonia without receiving much support. We have over these decades justified a thousand times the need to recover and rebuild our history only to hear responses such as: “Don’t look to the past, look to the future, looking to the past will only stir resentment”; “they are always leaning on the victimhood of historical memory. That was many centuries ago, so they no longer have any excuse not to become integrated”. And those of us who have fought for this cause are portrayed as being a segment of Romani society that is socially radical, retrograde and fundamentalist.

But different waves of thought have emerged over the past few years in the European Union that have led to new forms of activism, challenges to the current economic model and a crisis regarding the values ​​of our society. With these trends have also come attempts to regain all that the individualistic system has taken from us, and hence new approaches to achieve a more community-orientated society.

Today I am pleased because, thanks to these new social trends, we may no longer be looked at in askance when we assert ourselves; there will no longer be any excuse for them to say that asserting our identity is the same as immersing ourselves in a culture of complaint. We can forget about fear and say emphatically that we need tools to help us preserve our community-based culture within an individualistic society without being labelled as backward-looking or being accused of having an anti-integrative mindset. For us the economic crisis did not begin in 2007 but much earlier with the decline of our trades, our exclusion from the labour market and the mutilation of our traditional markets.

We Roma are quite accustomed to being made to feel that our social realities are not only invisible but have second class status within established political agendas. Furthermore, we feel helpless to defend our points of view, as they are oftentimes not the least bit understood. We are so invisible that our realities do not seem to exist until their effects are felt by other groups or minorities. The worst kind of discrimination a people can suffer is to be ignored. If you are ignored then you do not exist; if you do not exist, there is no past and nothing needs mending. For example, in recent months we have seen political and media attention given to the treatment by police of street vendors of African origin in Barcelona as if this phenomenon was exclusive to and had just come into being with the arrival of African immigrants. Not so. Long before the arrival of African street vendors to Barcelona, ​​hundreds of Romani men and women with no way to access the labour market made (and still do) make a living selling in this manner. Apart from suffering from the inherent precariousness of such situations, we felt alone because no one ever raised their voice on our behalf (I extend my respect and solidarity to African vendors).

I believe that now is the time to reflect and assert ourselves. But more than anything else, it is time to be proud of our ethnicity, to feel proud of having been born Roma.

With your permission I would like to pay tribute to the many Romani women who have been, and remain today, heroines;

  1. My tribute goes firstly to the first Romani women who, in the 12th, 13th, 14thand 15th centuries, took part in the diaspora from the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent to the Iberian Peninsula. They were the authentic Europeans and had a borderless sense of Europe and the world: anarchic, lovers of freedom, freed from attachments.
  2. To Romani women who struggled for centuries to preserve their identity as independent, hard-working women with their own economies, sense of savvy and freedom, and their own idiosyncrasies. Visible in public spaces, they were misunderstood and stigmatised throughout history. And throughout the centuries they suffered from all types of abuse, aberrations, and pragmatic decrees calling for their annihilation, assimilation through repressive laws and re-education. Particularly in the 17th century, Romani men were sent to the arsenals as slaves while the women were imprisoned in what were known as Casas de Misericordia (Mercy Houses). There they staged riots and protested naked when separated from their families. Yet they preserved their identity through chameleonic resistance, sometimes through scandal and other times in silence. Today we women must continue to feel and be Roma.
  3. To those Romani heroines imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland who, on 16 May 1944, realising that all Roma would be exterminated in the evening, led a riot and fought against the SS soldiers, preserving their own lives and those of their families for a little while longer.
  4. In remembrance of: Francisca García, a Spanish Romani woman who was imprisoned during World War II at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. Francisca, better known by her peers as FRASQUITA LA GITANA (Frasquita the Gypsy) according to an account by Neus Català, was described as a very good woman. Frasquita did not want to be referred to as a Roma because she was well aware that as a political prisoner she had a chance at survival, but not as a Roma woman. And of course, those who lived through the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship and endured all kinds of aberrations from the system and the Guardia Civil decrees: the famous pot kicking by civil guards in Roma camps, torture, head-shaving, prisons and so on, and so on.
  5. The many Romani women who were victims of forced ethnic sterilisation and the theft of their children by the governments of countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Sweden.
  6. To those who only a month ago appeared in the media because a group of football hooligans had derided and harassed them in Madrid.
  7. To the victims of human trafficking in Eastern countries.
  8. To all victims of gender violence of any origin and culture, but especially to the 5 Romani women who have died this year.
  9. To our ambassador par excellence from Catalonia, Carmen Amaya, for showing off her Romani art internationally, and proudly proclaiming her Romani heritage.
  10. To our most international Catalan Romani painter Lita Cabellut: thanks for capturing your marginal and ethnic identity in your art.
  11. To the brave women who have appeared in art over the centuries – in works by Bosch (El Bosco), Goya, Julio Romero de Torres, or Isidre Nonell – because images of the past can destroy the stereotypes of today.
  12. To heroines who find themselves running from the police on a daily basis as they attempt to put food on the table for their children.
  13. To those who, due to lack of education, have no choice but to work in low-paid and precarious jobs as housekeepers.
  14. To heroines living in difficult neighbourhoods who – despite being structurally condemned because of their social and ethnic status to being educated in segregated schools and struggling against thousands of barriers and stereotypes from both the outside and inside – still manage to complete their SECONDARY EDUCATION.
  15. To the many Romani people working in the social sphere who break their backs every day. Because of them objectives are met, but they must doubly prove their professionalism and have their Romani work methodologies constantly called into question.
  16. To those women who are subjected to racism on a daily basis in shopping centres, and who within the labour market are pressurised to hide their Romani identity. And also to those who courageously decide to live openly as Roma and silently put up with all manner of stereotypes and labels.
  17. And also to all those Romani men – fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles – who support us as we strive to achieve gender equality.
  18. To non-Roma experts and professionals who support us on our journey to achieve equality, and who work shoulder-to-shoulder with us but always follow one step behind, because they are aware that we are the ones who must take the first step.
  19. To those women with the skills to situate themselves in different contexts and fields and who work to meet the needs of our society and culture.
  20. To those women who participate in the majority society and also strive to keep their heads high in order to avoid being absorbed by the system, and who feel proud of their identity and help move it forward while at the same time transmitting it to others.
  21. We will finish by paying tribute, of course, to our poet Papuzza, a Polish Romani woman who endured society’s racism and died disowned by her family:

I have brown eyes and yours are green, but we see the same

We see all things the same way but experience them differently.

Your people are strong, while mine are weak, because we have no science or memory.

Maybe it’s better that way, because if Roma had memory we would die of anguish.


Opre Rromnia thaj o gao Rrom!

Book Day

by Nicolás Jiménez González

Dia internacional del libro

World Book Day is celebrated today, but just what is being commemorated? 23 April was chosen as “World Book Day” because it supposedly coincides with the death of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega on the same date in 1616. Everyone (through World Book Day celebrations, and in schools and on television news) commemorates Cervantes and Shakespeare, but not Inca Garcilaso. The fact that nobody remembers him has to do, in my opinion, with both the fact that he was mestizo (the son of a Spanish captain and an Incan princess, he was born in Peru) and with the Eurocentrism that promotes the social belief that everything that is important comes from Europe.

So, then, what is being commemorated today? We commemorate the death (from the Romani point of view, this would be the high point of the day) of two payo (non-Roma) writers who were clearly anti-Roma:

1) Shakespeare spoke of Romani women (your mum, my mum, your agüelica [grandmother] and mine, your sisters and mine, our wives and perhaps you) as “lustful”. In fact, he characterised Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra, 1607) as being in possession of a “gypsy lust”. Furthermore, Caliban (a character from The Tempest, 1611) embodies all the typical anti-Roma clichés such as bearing responsibility for spreading plague and engaging in savagery, having sloppy habits, etc. If you were not already aware, “Caliban” derives from the Romani expression kalipen/kaliben, denoting darkness. Shakespeare probably knew Romani people (he worked in the theatre, and Roma always had a presence in that world of the spectacle) and thus would have been able to create such a character with that name.

2) We already know Cervantes’ famous passage at the start of La Gitanilla (1613) [it seems that Roma were only born to be thieves: they are born to parents who are thieves, grow up with thieves, study to be thieves and, finally, end up being common, run-of-the mill, out-and-out thieves; and their thirst for stealing and the act of stealing are inseparable accidents within them that are only extinguished by death]. It is not the only passage in which he speaks (badly) of us. What not so well known is why the payo Miguel de Cervantes hated Roma: an aunt of his cohabited with the Archdeacon of Talavera, Martín de Mendoza, nicknamed the “el gitano” because he was the son of a Romani rider named María Cabrera, and fruit of that cohabitation was Martina who denied him lovers [read the whole story here]. As you can see, the payo Miguel also knew Romani people.

I wanted to emphasise the fact that both the payo Miguel and the jambo William knew Roma because sometimes we ourselves believe the old cliché which says that anti-Roma sentiment is the result of ignorance. No, my beloved friends, anti-Roma sentiment is the result of ill-feelings, hijaputez, with that dark look that our uncle José Heredia would speak of.

So, I do not now celebrate anything although books are the sustenance of my intellectual being.

*Images from the poster for the film “La gitanilla” (1943) and an illustration for The Tempest

Being a woman and Roma

by Noemí Fernández Navarro

I am thinking about Romani women who came to Spain six hundred years ago, women who wore brightly-coloured dresses, who had no objection to working outside the home and who were free or at least freer than Spanish women of the time.

I can picture those very conservative women from that feudal society. Imagine how they could have been upset because Romani men were free, how they would have viewed the fact that Romani women enjoyed freedoms that in that Spanish society were confused with licentiousness. It was not the best example of normality, Romani men and women living as equals. How could the eyes of a non-Romani woman of the time react to actions such as not putting up or hiding one’s hair? They were merely signs of a sinful life.

I personally think that Spain was not prepared for Roma, and the worst of it is that we had to give up part of our identity in order to survive.

But it should be made clear that Romani women had never been conformist, but rather had always fought against injustice. As an example of the rebelliousness of Romani women, one can refer to 16 May, Romani Resistance Day.

That day SS officers from the Auschwitz concentration camp arrived with the intention of exterminating Roma in rural areas. Romani women resisted the attack and rebelled, showing that they would not give in or submit. They used everything within their reach – bread sticks, wood sticks, iron bed posts and stones in order to stop the extermination of their people. It should be noted that this is the only case of rebellion known to have occurred at Auschwitz.

Another case of rebellion took place in Zaragoza in September 1752. At the jail of the Real Casa de Misericordia (Royal Mercy House), Romani women were not resigned to be imprisoned after their husbands had been sent to the galleys. When women arrived to the prison they did so on numerous occasions naked and barefoot as an act of rebellion, and to show that they had always been free. They thus confused the prison officials and were able to avoid the presence of priests and missionaries, as well as the obligation to attend mass. In addition, it was noted that on numerous occasions Romani women escaped from this facility – also in the nude, resulting in considerable consternation in the town.

Romani women were not submissive then, nor are they today.

According to census records from the 18th century, Romani women worked in the following trades: sellers of clothes and jewellery, artisan basket makers, laundresses, seamstresses, fritter sellers, spinning machine operators, street vendors, food product sellers, bakers, animal handlers and domestic service workers. Some also worked as jewellery brokers, and some even served as midwives. This long list of jobs demonstrates that Romani women of that time had the skills and training to enter trades. Today Romani women are present in virtually all employment spheres and sectors, although to a lesser degree than other women. However, these facts show that Romani women have a great capacity to work hard and particularly to adapt to external circumstances.

Romani women suffer from triple discrimination: they are female, they belong to a subordinate ethnic minority and they often do not have the formal training needed to enter the workforce under conditions of equality. They also suffer disadvantages with respect to other areas of social and citizen participation. We should emphasise that their lack of training can be attributed to, among other factors, the prejudiced belief that Romani women will not get far because they marry young. This is a prejudice we must be aware of which arises from attitudes held by non-Roma society which portray Romani women as being submissive.

As Rosenthal and Jacobson state in their “Pygmalion Effect” concept: “The expectations and predictions that teachers have about how students will do precisely leads to the behaviours that the teachers expected”.

I would also like to talk about sexism within Romani culture. The fact that society itself is sexist means that we must once again take the Pygmalion effect into account. Romani men reproduce the same power structures that are predominant within the non-Romani population, and included within such structures are ways of treating women. But this does not mean that Roma are a sexist people.

It will be necessary to invest plenty of hard work and determination to ensure that all these prejudices are eradicated. Allow me to offer an example: when Romani women are able to overcome this first hurdle and get a formal education, they arrive to the labour market and experience a second form of discrimination for being Roma. This discrimination extends to other areas, such as when they try to lease a flat or enter a leisure facility and are denied access for no reason.

The majority society must begin to see Roma as a heterogeneous population in which different ways of thinking, living and feeling coexist.

For this reason it is very necessary not to project stereotypes onto Romani women that make them out to exist within a single model and subject to a preconceived image of submission. We Romani women are surrounded and shaped by a variety of situations; but when we find ourselves beset by the difficulties this society imposes on us we will stand and fight.

The confusion between charity and a welfare utopia within the Romani community

by Ramón Flores

A few days ago I received the report on the situation of Roma in Spain prepared by the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF). In spite of everything, I read it.

I say in spite of everything, because the ERTF lost all credibility many years ago.

For those who do not know, the ERTF began operations in 2005 and was founded in collaboration with the Council of Europe and 6 other international organisations. Another of its founding organisations is the Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP), which I have the honour to chair. Seven years later, FERYP had no choice but to resign as a founding and full member of ERTF due to its lack of transparency, advancement and usefulness to the public.

But let us now consider the report in question. This report offers a summary of the situations of discrimination and social exclusion suffered by Roma in Spain. This is nothing new, but from the third page a sense of disenchantment and despair seems to fall over the text.

This happens when one gets to the paragraph which says, “Discrimination is a major barrier to social inclusion of Roma, especially in the fields of education, housing, health, access to adequate services and the right to work, in spite of the fact that Spanish Roma are well integrated and enjoy improved access to all these social rights”. Besides the statement of the obvious fact that discrimination is a barrier to inclusion, the phrase “Spanish Roma are well integrated” screeches and is hurtful to the eyes.

The ERTF itself, which boasts of representing the Romani community institutionally in Europe, continues to say that Roma are integrated or that they must be integrated. Bad start. It keeps forgetting that the ultimate goal of integration is not to achieve equality, but to maintain the status quo of the powerful over the weak.

To continue hurting our eyes and our mental health, the report goes on to cite a 2005 study by a pro-Roma entity that claims that 70% of Roma older than 16 are completely or functionally illiterate. That is, if 10 Roma are gathered in a square 7 will be illiterate. Amazing.

The problem is that the study mixes absolute illiteracy in with functional illiteracy. They may sound similar but are far from being the same and should not therefore be grouped into the same category.

For those not versed in statistics and population studies, particularly those dealing with education levels, the classification of ordinal variables (in this case, level of education) sorts the categories from the highest to the lowest, from the best to the worst, or from the first to the last. Within the categorisation scheme of this study, it is not at all unusual to find the “completely illiterate” and “functionally illiterate” variables grouped into a single category.

We must clarify what functionally illiterate means. According to UNESCO, it refers to people who may be able to read and write simple sentences but have not mastered the art of reading and writing, meaning they are unable to use these skills for their own benefit or in benefit to their community. Along with writing and reading, UNESCO also includes basic numeracy within its definition.

The Centre for Sociological Research and the National Institute of Statistics have categorised educational levels as follows: illiterate, primary education not completed, primary education completed, secondary education with and without a graduation certificate, secondary and post-secondary level vocational education, high school and university degrees.

But of course, if we put illiterate people in the same category as those with incomplete primary education, the figures will be higher. Of course. And they will appear to be much more tragic.

It is the same as saying that the Spanish Romani population is between 500,000 and 750,000, or that it is 1,000,000. It does not matter. And this has been said since the late 1980s. But let us examine the population and applied statistics analysis.

Beyond the mass of figures, we should not forget that they are not official data. And as pointed out in the unofficial Spanish translation of the ERTF document (excellently done, by the way) by the Study Team of the Asociación Nacional Presencia Gitana, these figures have not been scientifically rendered by the legitimate, competent and responsible body, the National Statistics Institute (INE). The figures used are therefore accommodative estimates, with no solid foundations and from sources that have not been approved or supervised by the INE.

The ERTF report itself lacks solid foundations or realistic and achievable proposals. Found at the end of this document are general recommendations on education, which enlighten us by saying that the government should “commit” to improving the conditions of Roma students. In regards to employment, the ERTF’s messianic recommendation says that the government should “redouble its efforts” and also mentions other clichés and overworked phrases that Romani organisations have incorporated into their daily vocabulary.

They also propose that the Spanish government should introduce a criminal law provision that expressly includes racial motivation as an aggravating circumstance for any crime. It seems that the ERTF has not learnt that Article 22, Section 4 of Spain’s Criminal Code already defines discrimination based on the victim’s ideology, religion, beliefs, ethnicity, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity as a crime. Another thing is for this law to be properly enforced, but in terms of whether it even exists, it does.

After so many years, we have still not learnt any lessons or from our mistakes. Spain is a hodgepodge of contradictions and patchwork solutions. As I wrote in my last article in El Desván del museo, Spain has gone on saying for many years that it is an “example of best practices in regards to Romani integration”. It is nonetheless capable of admitting that 70% of the Romani population over the age of 16 are illiterate. And yet we remain calm. Does anyone understand this?

The problem is that we still confuse charity and welfarism with equality. Civil society members who voice “demands” to the government insisting that the Romani community must integrate, and that governments should make “efforts” to improve the welfare of the Romani community are also part of this confusion.

Justice and equality must be carefully distinguished from charity, which are so often confused. Like justice and equality, charity is cited as a solution to a social ill. Charity presupposes a relationship of inequality where the strongest and richest voluntarily give resources or services to weaker or poorer individuals. We end up in an unalterable relationship of inequality. The strongest retain their position of dominance relative to the recipients. The weak position of being recipients is openly acknowledged, as recipients must accept handouts from others in order to survive. At the same time, it leaves recipients in a position of long-term dependency (Mattern, 2006).

And this is what we have been doing since time immemorial. We demand measures to help Roma integrate, ignoring the fact that we are also asking them to maintain a status of inequality and total dependence.

We have been led to believe and also encourage the belief that the solution to discrimination against the Romani community will entail making poverty and inequality into things that are comfortable. The European Union, national governments and civil society have spent years fighting to eradicate discrimination and promote the integration of the Romani community, while also worrying about keeping millions of people within the same status quo for decades. Welfarism does not enhance social welfare and reduce inequality: it institutionalises them.

So which will it be? In the end, I am going to have to accept that Spain is a good example of best practices with regards to Romani integration if we understand integration as maintaining levels of inequality and social injustice towards that community.

In order to meet the needs of the Romani community, and ensure that citizens’ rights are recognised and enforced, civic and political participation in our society is of crucial importance. Not being mere passive actors in the design and implementation of policies affecting Spain’s Romani community should be the main duty of our civil society. The same could be said for generating opportunities, capabilities and leadership so that Roma may benefit from a basic, yet relatively unknown right such as political and civic participation.

As we see Spain immersed in a second political and social transition, Romani movements (not to be confused with Romani associations) need to refresh their content, ideas and forms of participation. Civic commitment, which does not necessarily have to be political, can also contribute to the well-being of our communities and of society at large.

The development of the capacities of young people in public and political life, for example, has proven to be most effective in the presence of continuous efforts, as opposed to isolated events driven by third-party actors. Young people who have always been active in their communities are more likely to become informed and engaged citizens.

The importance of the active participation of Romani citizens in politics in order to build new forms of democratic participation must become the focal point of debate amongst the new generations and amongst policy makers focused on this recent renewal of Spanish democracy.

Let us not forget that political participation is at the heart of democracy, and new forms of citizen participation have become a key tool for citizens to make their voices heard in the political sphere.

We must be aware of how dangerous it is for the Romani community to have below average rates of political participation. The motivation of governments and civil society to include the Romani community in the decision-making process or to reflect their needs has been too low for too long. If we go on at this pace, this level of apathy and acceptance of patronage and charity will mean that instead of moving towards full citizenship, the Romani community will be less willing to become part of such processes and to participate in politics and thus become even more dependent and vulnerable.

In this context, it is important to emphasise that working with Romani youth can and should play an important role in building cohesive societies. This work should particularly focus on personal development and promoting the values of social equality, cultural diversity, active citizenship and fostering a peer-to-peer environment based on respect and tolerance.

Beyond making vague recommendations to governments in which we practically beg them to please take the Romani community into account, and writing lengthy and beautifully thought-out strategies for “Romani integration”, Roma citizens must become aware of the tools and opportunities for participating actively in public life. We should not be mere spectators to the titanic efforts of governments and civil society organisations to “integrate” us only later to come across laughable and unbalanced statistics claiming that 70 per cent of us are illiterate.

In such a scenario, the need for a Romani think tank in Spain becomes more and more evident.

In the footsteps of Romani poetry

by Ismael Cortés Gómez

Contrary to what has happened in regards to the history of social and economic marginalisation to which the Romani people have been subjected for centuries, which has been thoroughly documented by French and British historians, the cultural history of the Romani people has yet to be written; and perhaps one of the most fascinating chapters of this unwritten story is the one about Romani poetry.

Despite being the largest ethnic minority in Europe (Roma number 12 million according to the European Commission), unfortunately no public or private institution has taken seriously the commitment to recognise, protect and promote the Romani cultural heritage in an area as fundamental as language and/or literary studies. In the democratic and liberal contexts in which a civil society which is tolerant and actively committed to the value of preserving cultural diversity civil society exists, this institutional protection gap could be offset by publishing initiatives that disseminate works written in the Romani language or that have been authored by writers of Romani origin.

The public recognition of the work of the Polish-Romani poetess Papusza is an exception, as she has posthumously achieved a remarkable level of visibility, and particularly following the appearance of her biography on the big screen in a 2013 film directed by the married couple Joanna and Krauze Krzysztof. Nonetheless, most Romani poetry remains in the shadows. In an attempt to shed some light (even as if from a firefly) on this subject, I want to take advantage of this blog to provide a sample of the unpublished work of the Romani/Spanish-Argentine poet Juan Luís Aguilera (Santa Fe, 1928 – Buenos Aires, 2003).

The first time that I read all of the manuscripts of Juan Luis Aguilera’s poetry I was deeply impressed. It gave me the sensation of having entered a new poetic continent. His style combines simple visual metaphors (which refer to archetypal elements of nature) with complex conceptual metaphors (which refer to a transcendent point where psychodynamic, historical, civilisational and cosmogony lines intersect). The masterful use of significant formulas that portray the historical and material condition of human existence as the struggle to find coordinates of meaning and direction in a metaphysical plane places the poetry of Juan Luís Aguilera in the tradition of poets such as Hölderlin or Tagore; that is, on the path to the legacy of those who took the care to make poetic language into a channel of communication between Heaven and Earth, between the temporal and the eternal, between mankind and the Gods.

Here is a sample of a vast collection of poems still awaiting publication: Soledad, by Juan Luís Aguilera.



I feel how the immense loneliness
Of desolate spaces
Moves slowly towards my forehead
And I feel my hands
Elongate in the extension of the Absolute unit.

The horizon before my eyes,
Before my longing.

There are old astrolabes
In the confines of blood
Controlling the old routes
In expectant dreams.

But there is an immense loneliness
Of candles and fragmented rudders.

There is a loneliness
Which denies orbits and ellipses.
A loneliness of shipwrecks
And fallen trees.
A solitude of churches without gods.
A loneliness of sleeping birds.

Upright in a gesture of combat,
I want to oppose the immense solitude
My existence.
The dreams of my forehead.
The voices of my hands.

Affirming the right to move,
Light rays affirming
The right of my eyes
To marvel.
My vertices of anguish
That produce cosmic prayers.

There are old dialogues
Of stars and astrolabes
In the channels of blood.

There are echoes of other religions
And ancient civilisations
Of annulled profiles.