Ellos comen flamas. They eat flames.

Out of the fireplace it whispered, crackled, capered. Tapping a pattern, it set its tight staccato: stop hesitating, start touching lightning, keep those charges arching; caught in the netting, what is the flutter, nothing but your heart there. Sing for your supper, dance till you’re tattered, pluck and slap and clap now – pain is your tutor, time is your torture, can’t you catch the rapture?

And in the echoing clockwork of the finger snaps and beaten boxes, sounding boards and castanets, and woven around the rapid ecstatic dance of the fingertips on the guitar, winds a voice, wailing in microtonal portamento and ornamentation of unequal temperament, the aching of a heart, a noble heart, a bright heart, a red bird burning in a net, flames in the chest curling out through the mouth, the pain writhing on the face: and the feet, the feet stamp, the feet hammer and tamp, as the body bound in flowing fabric arches and twists and strains like fire to reach the saving air, the feet beat the heart, beat the flaming heart, beat till the torture is rooted out, beat till the heart is in cinders and sparks, and the flaming flakes of paper fluttering up to the black-blue sky are flamingos, birds of the flames, pájaros de las flamas, flamencos…

This dance, this dance of the face, the heart, the shredding tension between heaven and hell, this dance of the fingers curling like waves and flame, this slow melismatic anfractuous dance of the voice, this ecstatic yet muriatic music, where does it come from? Is it Flemish, flamenco, or from the flaming bird, flamenco, or can we ever know? Its roots are Gypsy, Roma, but it is everywhere now, and where did it roam from? It looks a bit like Kathak dance from India. The microtonal sounds and ragged rhythm reach towards raga. But when your soul is searing on its grill, when you are trapped in the crackle of its lightning, when the hammering of your heart is played out by thumbs and fingertips and toes and heels in unreciprocating tempi, and your spirit is extenuated, flaco, lean, so you cannot even say amen, can you tell me then where it comes from but the flame that eats the flame?

5 responses to “flamenco

  1. Delicious tasting, hot, sweat drenched, heart thrumming. In my mind I see the pivotal scene from a delightful little Australian film, Strictly Ballroom. The boy wants to prove he can dance the pasodoble (another tasty word), but his partner’s father tells the boy that he is only tapping his feet, THIS is how to dance. There is the strum of the guitar, the haunting call of the singer and the father’s slow drag of his boot across the wooden floor that slowly builds to an explosion of thunderous passionate beating of boot heels and arch of body. Brilliant word, flamenco. Flash, flair, flesh, sharp and smooth at the same time like the edge of a blade. The grandmother says that you have to feel the rhythm in your heart.

  2. A splendid prose poem!!

  3. This is how to poem!

  4. Pingback: melisma | Sesquiotica

  5. Pingback: موسيقى الفلامنكو flamenco music מוזיקה פלמנקו Paco de Lucia

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