Jennifer Lagier

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Camille breezes through security,
unpacks her laptop, checks email,
Facebook, from an airport café. Photo by Jennifer Lagier
The trim waiter brings hot chowder,
an icy mimosa, offers tempting desserts.

In an hour, she’ll lift off from San Francisco,
wave goodbye to parched California:
crowded cookie cutter houses,
empty reservoirs,
snowless Sierras.

At the boarding gate,
she unclenches,
imagines a clean slate,
reinvented reality,
herself starting over.

Departure from Been there and done it to death.
Destination: Adventure. Possibility. Madrid. Barcelona.

Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


Photo by Jennifer Lagier

Camille wanders wonderland byways:
dizzying Paseo de la Explanada de España,
secret plazas, their kiosks and fountains,
skinny alley decorated with fantastical mushrooms.
She discovers tiny cafes serving pizza and tapas.
Treats herself to Spanish beer, then flan
complimented by cups of espresso.
Returns the smile of a dark Spaniard who winks,
generously foots the bill for her sangria.
Watches beautiful men holding hands,
sipping champagne at a yacht harbor bistro.
Spends the night in a penthouse overlooking
high rise apartments, twitching ocean,
flickering streetlights.
From between black satin sheets,
welcomes fresh love, steamy sunrise.



While in Spain, Camille renouncesPhoto by Jennifer Lagier
her vegetarian past, craves meat
in every form, morning and night.
Salivates over salami, thin prosciutto slices,
grows wet at the sight of foil-wrapped ham.

Crisp bacon seduces,
weans her from breakfast yogurt.
Siren song of steak and sangria for lunch.
By dinner, her appetite is reduced
to bruschetta sprinkled with chorizo,
a bit of green salad, shards of hard cheese.

All night she fantasizes flesh in many forms:
succulent pork, mouth-watering beef.
Sleeps soundly, lost in carnal dreams.


Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


Camille salutes policia wearing blue uniforms, twirling threatening guns.
They form a mandatory reception line leading into the train terminal
where she is divested of purse and belt, subjected to a full body scan.

In the coach car, passengers sit, two by two.
An attendant pushes a squeaky cart down the narrow aisle,
dispenses espresso, newspapers, travel advice.

Green fields, leafless vineyards, graffitied concrete flash by.
A gravel-voiced matron shouts “Hola!” conducts impassioned conversations
at high decibel throughout the trip on her over-sized phone.

In Madrid, civil guardsman, blue vans on every corner.
Mimes and street performers command crammed plazas,
banter with tourists, beg for attention, coins and applause.

Crowds surround cathedrals, museums, the Prada where young soldiers swarm.
Camille moves from bistro to café, finally an umbrella table beside park kiosk,
sips sparkling wine among pink blossoming trees in a demilitarized zone.

Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


Camille has known her share of chameleons.Photo by Jennifer Lagier
This silver Spaniard with metallic stage props
simply one more performance artist
camouflaged by imaginative makeup.
He postures, plays to the crowd,
donation can before his podium,
aggressively shilling for money.

The man has neither humility nor shame.
Stares and smirks, intuits exactly
what Camille is thinking
as she flings a small coin,
pauses to appraise
his trim, muscular body.

Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Negra y Angel

A dark angel leads Camille
past her comfort zone
through a canyon of high-rise apartments,
along cracked, slanting sidewalks,
on her way to antique city center,
then to the sea.

Around her, spray painted gang slogans,
intricate graffiti artwork.
Children wave paper streamers on sticks.
Elderly men and women pull shopping carts
or hold leashes tethered to small, ratty dogs.

Outside each tienda,
black stockinged shop girls cluster,
clutching lit cigarettes,
gesture and share juicy gossip,
blow blue smoke into brisk breeze,
howling with laughter.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier

Beach Esplanade

Camille explores the old town beach promenade.Photo by Jennifer Lagier
Dizzying bands of cream, green and rust tiles
wriggle between inns, marketplace booths,
white swath of sand.
Before 10 a.m., a thin stream of curious tourists.
Here and there, an elderly couple walking their dog.

She marvels at pastel high-rise apartments,
their wrought iron balconies floating gardens
of scarlet geranium, vivid nasturtium,
imagines what it must look like at night,
boisterous crowds traversing patterned path,
waving ever-present cigarettes, clutching cold beers.

From her café table abutting the esplanade,
she sips potent espresso, watches joggers,
a shirtless roller blader with muscular legs,
sighs at the sight of his rippling abs.

Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier

Tapas y Tequila

After stumbling into the midst of a church procession,
Camille, who is allergic to piety, craves an antidote to religion.
Heads to Plaza Santa Barbara and her favorite café.
Orders tapas and tequila, discretely settles into a nook,
eavesdrops on couples canoodling at dark corner tables.

Bartender Luis knows her weaknesses, serves local scandal
in lisping Spanish over espresso, sangria.
Chalks today’s paella specials on blackboards
hung from ancient stone walls at the foot of a staircase.
Croons sexily with music videos, holds out a hand,
invites her to join him.

“When in Spain,” she thinks, knocking back a shot.
Grinds her way to the dance floor.

Previously published by Dead Snakes.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


Camille considers renouncing American citizenship,
relocation to a funky Alicante flat
overlooking cafes and pocket parks,
glimpse of silvery ocean.

She imagines morning excursions
tethered to the leash of a fat, spoiled Chihuahua,
casual flirtation with lively gentlemen
still in possession of that certain sparkle.

Hers would be the wrought iron balcony
spilling red geraniums, after-dark laughter.
Envisions intimacy on her terrace sipping wine
beside the evening’s hot lover.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier

Pim Pam Pollo

Lard is a sacrament dispensed at this Spanish food booth:
dismembered chicken, flayed potato fragments crisped
in a baptismal vat of molten, roiling fat.

The graffiti advertisement of a wok is very deceptive,
implies healthy stir-fry, succulent veggies,
wishful thinking, wildly imaginative street art.

Camille watches patrons crunch fried nuggets
from cardboard containers, wipe greasy hands
on brown paper napkins as their arteries harden.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


As Camille dejectedly packs her suitcase,
the Alicante skies open, wash ancient buildings
and congested streets with silver downpour.
Thunder grumbles, wallops rain from storm clouds,
matches her conflicting emotions, dark mood.

The last day in Spain and there’s still
so many unexplored cantinas,
but her return flight to California
lifts off just after dawn.

Pink trees shower wet streets
with wind propelled blossoms.
She digs out passport, breaks down her computer.

This time tomorrow, she’ll clear customs in Madrid,
then again in Chicago, suffer re-entry jet lag,
sleep overnight, if she can, in San Francisco.

Photo by Jennifer Lagier


Photo by Oliver Fellguth


Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry and in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor. Jennifer is a member of the Italian American Writers Association and Rockford Writers Guild. She co-edits the Homestead Review and maintains websites for Ping Pong: A Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The Monterey Poetry Review, and She also helps coordinate the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium’s Second Sunday Reading Series. Visit her website at: