Oswald LeWinter


Portuguese Flies

"All Portuguese dogs are crazy,"
Says Luisa, my neighbor. Her runt,
Black, brown and white spotted,
One-fourth Terrier, one-eighth Spaniel
And assorted fractions of other breeds
That roam the streets of Lisbon after
Dark, sniffing at bitches whose tails,
Stiff as a finger probing the sky, signal
Mating fever, is called Cao, which
Is dog in Portuguese; simple and
Undistinguished as his whelping
In some cellar among stone washtubs.

Cao chases flies. Thinking he's a crocodile,
He snaps at them, but never manages
To bag one, which is not surprising.
Sometimes, in the cool rose dusk
Of Alcantara, my borough, I stroll
Into the pocket park on Alto Santo
Amaro, near my old house and find
A bench. Cao is usually there, running
Like a halfback, broken field style,
Trying to maul flies that keep evading.
It's easy for them. Portuguese flies are
Small, like fruit flies elsewhere.

Portugal itself is small. It fits easily
Into the trouser pocket of a Texan, or so
A clerk at the American Embassy said,
The day I came. He was from Amarillo.
Luisa, her husband, or her son Paulo
Are usually in the park. Cao barks
In shrill bursts, more like yelping than
Like threats. The flies stay high enough
To entice, but also to escape, his teeth.
But Cao never tires of the chase. It is
His mutt nature he obeys doing it. Just
As the flies express theirs by escaping.

Oswald LeWinter is a 72 year old American poet living in Lisbon. After a thirty-year-plus hiatus, he is again sending his work to journals. In the sixties and earlier, his work appeared in Shenandoah, Sewanee, Contact, New Mexico Quarterly, Epoch, Hudson Review, Paris Review, Chelsea, the Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Argonaut and elsewhere.

[Tarpaulin Sky can neither confirm nor deny this information, as LeWinter is the original 'international man of mystery.' Click HERE or GOOGLE for details.]