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Fado Tonight at the Table of Friars

by Kathleen Willard

And she begins to sing

at the Mesa de Frades.

Candles illuminate altars of azulejos

the blue annunciation and yellow unknown saints,

and where do the songs originate -

A young girl stands before the door,


the beautiful man strums the guitarra,

and she sings of lovers lost

to the riches of India,

and seizures inside erupt

as lyrics of armadas crossing the equator

explode into infernos.

Ballads of mermaids

sweet talking lonely men into open deadly waters

flood the small room with sorrow.


Her eyes closed, her body swaying

overcome by the grief of unknowing.

She moans for lovers who follow trade routes

sketched in stars.

The music casts spells to harbor

all sailors safely home,

her deep voice unleashing allure


and my desires, once pinioned and imprisoned,

as long lost wayfarers

shipwrecked by suburbs and dead end jobs. I claim


the guitarist’s slender hands

as the notes conjure

tangled sheets and skin on skin.

There, he cups his hand on the slender neck of the guitar.

New devotees endure the hot grotto.

We close our eyes as we are swept out into the furious sea -


After hearing fado tonight, I’d eagerly enlist

on any caravel sailing into any inferno

and follow the dark eyed guitarist

around his Cape of Good Hope

into the interior of my India

leading the landfall

assistant to cartographers

inking blank spaces on my map.

by Kathleen Willard

Kathleen Willard, MA Middlebury College, MFA Colorado State University, remembers her attendance at The Disquiet International Literary Program as a defining moment in her writing life.  Forty of her poems have appeared in  literary magazines and anthologies including: Bombay Gin, Matter, Proud to Be, and Landscape and Place. Her awards include a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to travel and write in India, attendance at Vermont Studio Center twice, the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference twice, and her poem “Theory of Flight, Circa 1704” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, published in The Progenitor and won the ACC Writer's Studio Prize.

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