The day I learned the Castanet faded

The day I learned the Castanet faded

Down the road alone.

Yesterday I learned of the passing of the hand fashioner of the castanet. Another loss in evolution.


Going going…soon gone,

Castanets and flamenco.

The low pitch castanet clack of the seguirillas. Flemish themes of loves, Flemish themes of the mischievous, of the playful. Sung slow and sexy and somehow out of the fires of hell, it was borne in a Flemish hell, a Flemish Hell of Bruegel.
Seguirillas with Sentiment, Seguirillas sung in ancient folk tones in ancient poetic form…swirl of the tailed gown, swirl of the ruffled tail gown, songs sung in low pitch to the snap clatter snap of castanet.

Arms move like waves deliberate.

Eyes, like birds watching prey, never losing sight and pray, dance gypsy.

Flamenco is like a gypsy, like our true selves, no boundaries.

Just distinct deliberate movement. Movements with purpose.

Arms moving like undulating waves, intentional, conscious.


Repeat like a replayed song on repeat and snap flash, snap flash, flash fire :

Do not lose hope

In canto jondo

in ancient Flamenco song

from Lorca who heard

the rhythm of the birds.

To Falla

Who heard the ancient words as gypsy heart

as gypsy fire spirit?

Most pure

primitive and ancient,

and pure and then snap

snap snap.

Clap a vision.

The purity of ancient song released my visions.

And it all came rushing. The rhythm of the castanets brought a memory of a little restaurant in dark street fog of North Beach. Crowded wood tables. Their only dish of simple fish cluttered paella and full glasses of fruited Sangria were pushed back to the walls. Cooks became dancers, bartender set aside the bottela for a worn guitar, fingers snapping gut strings, hands shake clacking castanets and we were mesmerized and safe from the cool night fog wrapped in the now moment of the gypsy flamenco. The group assemble forgot all but the night and saw the swirl and the flash and all became exotic.

Vision of Hemingway rough drinking on cobbled Spanish alley streets while a war raged in burnt hills. Smash drunk, comrade battle drunk arm in arm and singing of Spanish women fighting alongside poet freedom brothers.

And the gypsy danced while they drank to forget the blood.

Vision of old friends in Barcelona watching a turtle crawl, claws clacking on textured cool concrete, slow sliding under a bush as the heart fade feeling of a lost love moves back but is never gone,

Vision of Nazi teeth clattering in lonely nights, frightened by gypsies, frightened by their dance and clack snap of the castanet that lead gypsy spirit anywhere. Heil and no respect for the state, for the line, for the boundary, for ours, for theirs. Heil and no respect for anyone lifted to a god. They only followed the ancient song rhythms of the birds. Heil and boots marched unison empty. Nazis squirmed, and forced them singing, dancing, swirling red tail dresses, arms waving overhead into fires. And the Nazis died and the gypsy slap dances and fingers pluck taut strings

But they never died.

Visions, a mind rush of thoughts about the Las Ramblas in Barcelona and parrots in gilded cages lining the street, and drunken red wine afternoons fading with friends in green spaces.

Along side the lap, lap, lap rhythms of summer slap waves, of mediterranean waters against crusted pier posts.

Today, the loss of the castanet man brought vision to me. Maybe it was the primal rhythms of birds. Maybe the next time we meet in the falling rain to the sss sss sss of the drops and splash of tires on asphalt.


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