Bland On Bland – Stranger

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “ Stranger “.

Northern Portugal: Boa tarde Juan,

Spent the last week deep in the mountains two hundred kilometres north east of Lisbon in a remote village with a name I can’t begin to pronounce, but the locals have been incredibly welcoming.

One alarming feature though – most of the villagers, male and female, look like clones of Ed – except they’re a metre shorter and have a pleasant demeanour – I can’t understand them either!

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:

Also have a listen to the tracks on the new EP “Once We Were Kings Of The World


At first the middle class eye sees only decay

Houses, bent, white walls stained black with dust and mould
Sagging rooves support cracked terracotta tiles held down with chunks of rock
Stone walls, partially collapsed, bound together by moss and bramble

You are a stranger.

Old women, pretending to sweep, gather in doorways, staring warily as you pass
Old men nod cautiously, as they navigate narrow, cobbled lanes on tiny, motorised carts

Then, as though a fog is lifted, you notice the rich, rust ruby soil, salted with limestone, peppered with granite

Crops, like a green tide, blanketing every inch of small allotments, river flats and mountain terraces, enveloping all but the houses themselves

Corn, cabbage, beans, onions.

Olive trees and grape vines dividing fields – here, even fences are alive

Your eyes now see only unimagined beauty

Villagers, unhurried, work their land methodically, respectfully – nurturing, not exploiting

At the end of a long, hot, day, you sit beside the church, sharing broad beans cured in oil and salt, washed down with home made wine.

In the square, kids kick a ball tirelessly towards an imagined goal

As you gaze down the street you no longer see decay

You no longer notice beauty

Instead you feel a rhythm

You are a stranger no more

© Copyright 2011 Ian Bland

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