A 2013 Pushcart Prize Winner, Saeed Jones is the author of the collection Prelude To Bruise (September 2014, Coffee House Press) and the chapbook When The Only Light Is Fire (2011, Sibling Rivalry Press.)
What it sounds like when you watch Israel Galvan perform contemporary Flamenco in the shadows of Barcelona’s Picasso Museum.
Black men are rare in Madrid. Black gay men with hair the color of fire are even rarer. This has direct implications on one’s life as a gay man in Chueca (the city’s gay neighborhood.) You will walk into a bar, every head will turn, eyebrows will be raised. You’re not paying for this drink. Or the next one.
While writing on your Macbook in the lounge, one of the hostel employees walks into the room with three beers. One for himself, the other two for you and the girl sitting next to you. He won’t offer explanation. He will shrug his shoulders in a way you now know means “de nada.”
You begin to wonder, sooner than you might expected to start wondering such things, “What took me so long to do this? How long have I been running away from my own life?”
You’re jet lagged. And a little tipsy now. This might have something to do with the dramatic questions running through your mind.
It is the first night of Madrid’s week long PRIDE festivities. You consult the voices in your head as to the appropriate amount of condoms to put in your back pocket. “Three,” one of the voices says. “Let’s not get overly ambitious.”
You put four condoms in your back pocket. What does the voice in your head know anyway?