Twenty-One Vignettes


21 Vignettes

Street Art in Portugal and Spain


A work of Art is completed by the Viewer.”                      

       Marcel Duchamp

Street art, for me, is a moving meditation. While walking the Caminho Português toward Santiago de Compostela, Charlotte and I encountered many murals, stencils, and stickers. Viewing them helped me manage my frailty and painful setbacks while walking for 15 days from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. In addition to my walking companions from Ireland, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Portugal, these random samples of street art buoyed my spirits.

At one time, these examples of urban art were viewed as vandalism detrimental to the civic order. Now, they are tolerated, even celebrated. In any case, they spoke to us. Most had no accompanying texts, just images of people or animals. The figures in these “21 Vignettes” did speak to me. Perhaps they will address you as well.

I have listened to these figures and given them my own voice. The artists in no way verbalized them or gave instructions about their intentions.

May you carry on your own conversations with them as you walk on your own paths.

Bom caminho!

Buen camino!



Caldas de Reis, Galicia, Spain, unknown artist

I am Venilia

Vignette 1

The River Umia used to flow here.
Neptune and I intertwined down below.
He did not rescue me but left me for Salacia and her salt waters.

You know, as goddess of these quietly flowing waters and springs, I led him here to Caldas des Reis.
Hot springs brought the arthritic Romans,
who passed me by.

What about me? Do you think it’s fun to be bent out of shape, stuck here,

Do you think I still look pretty?
You should have seen me then.

Neptune liked my flipper.

He found it a little kinky.
The fishy thing, that is.


Oceanus in stone
Caldas de Reis, Galicia, Spain, unknown artist


Vignette 2

No, it is not a yoga pose.
There is no Namaste on my face.
Ol’ Neptune froze me here,
next to Venilia, my girlfriend at the time.
She said I was too old for her.
As if a goddess is some perky part-time summer help
for the tourists at the hot springs.
Also, I’m not some god of snakes.
Those are my curlies, sort of reverse dreadlocks.
I liked to swim, that’s how I met Venilia.
You know that I also have a fishtail, don’t you?

Oh wait, you can’t see it.

We were an item until that overrated god struck me with his trident.
He didn’t care for the Greeks, gods or not.

Even though she’s on my right, I can’t have her.
Or even have a swim in the river just beyond my head.



Vignette 3








“Neocrast”                 Caldas de Reis, Spain


Vignette 3

Do I intimidate you?

A grappler
MMA cage fighter

getting in your face
just to take you down.
I’m actually quite irenic
once I defeat you.

Do you think all the yellow
makes me look insincere?
Your peremptory

You thought I was dense, right?

Admit it.


Sisyphus with stone blocks

Cronoloxía by Lucía Perdiz Davila, 2015, Parque de Belvis,
Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Sisyphus 2.0

Vignette 4.

I don’t like labels.
It’s enough to deal with these blocks
without learned references to you-know-who.

Everyone asks the same question:
What monstrous crime did you commit to deserve such a fate?
The balance of power had to be restored.
Excess of bad karma from Sisyphus.
And it was my fate
to be the one who had to placate
some gods.
for what?
“Self -aggrandizing craftiness”
Unlike the other dude,
I killed no travelers or guests. Therefore, I did not displease Zeus.
Ordinary greed was all.

Since there were no offenses against the Xenia,
I got to choose
the balancing force.

My bright idea was the blocks.

Getting started was harder, but
I could rest once in a while.

The ride down is always bumpy.



Mr. Dheo with spray can

Mr. Dheo, Rua do Bonjardim/Rua Alferes Malheiro (Trinidade) – Porto – Portugal

Interview with Mr. Dheo

Mr. Dheo

Vignette 5.

tok a

tok a

tok a

tok a

tok a

tok a

tok a










I’ll talk in between spraying.

Torre des Clérigos I spray with pathos.
Noble and loyal, I paint an ethos.

Mayor Rio couldn’t fire this oddity.
Masked, I have become a commodity.
Urban interventions are my m.o.
See for yourself! I am Mr. Dheo

appearing in you in many a guise.
Who am I really? I am just your eyes.







Two Boys Glaring at Each Other
Tattooed Duet by Mr. Dheo


Tino and João

Vignette 6.

You, hypocrite lecteur,

are part of this conversation.







You’re not quitting?


a rose

a heart

a pose

an art


You’re not deleting?


I listen to my chain

Thug is what I am

I point to my pain

Facebook is a sham


You’re not disappearing?


Sometimes these gestures

are just too hollow.

Sometimes these junctures

are good to Unfollow.


My brother’s niceness

reveals a flâneur.

You are my likeness,

hypocrite poseur.



Man smashed under boulder
A man splattered by a boulder (anonymous)

Names Withheld

Vignette 7.

Dear Diary,

I know the official picture looks funny.

But let me explain.

My love of geometry

led me to paint

interlocking hearts

adjacent squares

parabolic curves.

Atop the cliffs

overlooking the Caminho Português

were these huge boulders

gleaming in the sun.

Lowering myself from a rope,

I applied my stencils

in total darkness.

It rained.

It fell.

He died.

The authorities found

no cause for the tumbling rock

crushing him.

Of course, I did not come forward.

Why would I?

I caused nothing.

Then why am I

explaining these things

to myself?


Three red figures crunched up

Willie, Billie, and Millie

Vignette 8.

We’re all scrunched together.

We twirl whirl curl and furl

our arms and hands and legs,

those pegs scrambled up like reddened eggs.

Our three smiles are wiles,

Styles we use to hide

what’s behind the eyes

of us merry pranksters.

For now, we are floating over a construction site

gloating over our seduction and spite.

Willie likes to prank

Billie likes to yank

Millie likes to shank


once Noz gives the nod.


by Costah           

Porto, Portugal


Vignette 9.

Costah:“Why are you so angry, Pilzatar?
You know she’s out of your league.
Be happy. Just float above it all.”

Pilzatar:“Easy for you to say, Mistah Costah.
Always chirping.”

Costah:“Yeah, it’s a gift.”

Marie Elena:“What are you boys fighting about?
Costah, it’s sweet of you to have a crush
on me.
But Pilzatar,
get a grip.
It’s sweet of you too,
but I already have a boyfriend.”

Greenie:“Hey, over here! over your shoulder, Marie Elena.
What happened to your cheek?
When I stop boinging, let me have
a closer look.”

Marie Elena:
“You’re the first person who asked me.

Greenie, do you think
I intimidate people?
Is it the purple hair?
I’ve been told to smile more.
I hate smiling on command like
some compliant American chick.
I am non-compliant without explanation.

I guess I just answered my own question.”

“Softly, Marie Elena,
you’ll wake him up.”

Costah: “Who?”


Marie Elena: “Where?”

Greenie: “The guy who’s sleeping on the lawn
right beneath us.
That’s who.
More consideration, please.
Unless you want to be like
with his perpetual doggy Oh, boy!
Less mindless merriment, Costah.
Less sour griping, Pilzatar.
Less image maintenance, Marie Elena.

Ay ! Descúlpame.
Once again, I’ve lost a chance to shut up.

Back to boinging.”


Unfinished street art


Vignette 10

Do you have the power
of creating someone?
I paint, therefore I am.
I spray, therefore they are.
My new guy lifts his arms
to embrace his Nexo.
He can choose his own name.

To his side, a couple
I sprayed into black life
holds hands, flashes peace signs.
She leans on him with love.
Crooking her back leg high,
she looks out on her world.
In blue,
Mr. Backwards Baseball Cap is texting
already looking down.

On the edge, a figure
exists in mere outline
dreaming life on the edge.

I am Nexo, making
the next one the nexus.


Two Big Owls
Two Watchful Owls

Pedro and Inès

Vignette 11

Pedro—I hunt by day with round yellow eyes.
Inès- he’s my mouse-winner.

Treble-Clef 10 sprayed pink swirls
below my blue eyes.
we met in Coimbra
in the Garden of Tears
there Dom Pedro spied
Dona Inès de Castro
married her secretly
trysted near the spring.
King Afonso had her murdered
right there under the kissing tree.

— Why don’t you let me
tell them why we’re up here
on this wall.

—It’s not as romantic as my story.

—But mine’s truer, Inès.
We can’t fly that well anymore, so
Treble-Clef -10 painted us in as
guardians of  the grotto,
entertainment for the guests at the Quinta,
warnings for all feral cats
who prey on the burrowing owls.

— Not that the cats pay any attention to us, Pedro.




“Glaux”, Coimbra, Portugal


Vignette 12

I don’t particularly portend

(1st big word I’ve been told to speak.)

I usually perch
as a little owl, Glaux,
on the shoulder of
bright-eyed Athena.
I illuminate her one dark side
to give her
not half-
seeing what others don’t.

Some call that Wisdom.

(2nd big word in my script. Treble Clef-10 is calling the shots here.)

About that death-thing,
Treble-Clef-10 abandoned
a frayed, black paintbrush,
not before painting
in white

on my black irises

in hotel lobbies
in hipster bars
in vaults of anonymous investors
uncoupled from the pulse of people.

Hey, I didn’t narcotize Art

(3rd big word.)

Glaux just had to elegize it.



Man riding whale
Gaiola, Coimbra, Portugal

Vignette 13
translated by Gaiola




let me tell you who I am not that whale ridden by the peg-leg named after an evil

king of Israel not that whale who engorged the prophet sent to rebuke (successfully)

the king of Nineveh not that Atlantic whale choked by a Titleist, saved by a balding,

fake marine biologist. My name is


Gaiola recruited me for this gig he rides me in a saddle guides me with a rein

bides his time in the race slides his legs down my side do you see how they end

in undulating fish tails tides me over till he returns me to my primordial home

Gaiola and I are racing to win more wall space for Street Art em Portugal

already Gaiola’s head is painted over with a green splotch at my sides some tags

peek out I am eating them a pink tide washes over my flank it is pictorial blood

why am I degrading myself to do his bidding Gaiola promised me a spot in the bay

distant from the fleets seeking to make their quotas my deep call resounds

for miles just as Gaiola is his paint I am my sound.


ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


Irrepressible Costah

Red Dog Running

Vignette 14.

Much better now. You see? minus your love-sickness over Marie Elena you’re hovering.

I have no clue why I’m feeling so green.

Mrs. Costah:

Me neither But I also picked up a linked red collar.


Like mine! Is it a gift from Marie Elena? or a missing patch of Red Dog?

Mrs. Costah:

From Pilbara in Australia? Did he fly here? Where is he heading? Koko, is it really you?


Am I awake? Is this happening? Aren’t we all in Portugal!

Mrs. Costah:

The bounding hobo dog turns up whenever poor souls need him.

The stories this old dog could tell…


Eagle in Profile
Liluye in profile by Hazul Luzah


Vignette 15.

Have I lost my mojo?

I guess that’s not what you want to hear

from a Hawk spirit-guide.

You may have heard

how I rescued


forced into marriage

by porcupine-man.

Buzzard and I caught her

as she pulled up

a really big wild turnip


through the hole in the soil

down to earth

from the sky-world.

Then there was  Waupee,

White Hawk.

I was his spirit-guide

helped him ascend to the sky

to capture his son and his wife

youngest daughter of Star Chief.

When Waupee arrived

in the land of Star Chief,

he did not choose animal parts

such as paws and tails

which turned their bearers into

animals that ran away.

Neither did he choose a wing and

transform into a bird.

I gave him a white feather.

He descended safely

with his wife and son.

But I digress.

My powers are spent.

You must sing to your wife

to capture her

from the sky-world.

No feather

no wide-seeing eye

no message from the spirit-world.

Just your song

and her.


Liluye, Singing Hawk While Soaring

The Girl Who Climbed to the Sky

Waupee and the Star Maiden


Snake twining around Melia
Snake twining around Melia, by Costa, Porto, Portugal


Vignette 16

“Love Life,” that’s what Costah says.

Look, my arms are

contemplation blue

my legs long stems

a yellow orange.

Why is it easier to avert

my eyes

and float


than root myself

among the purple leaves


Like some tree deity

I emerge from the earth

and return to it.

But I cannot return.

My arms, you see,

are tendrils

that do not reach

my pink shoes.

In and out of my legs

my arms weave

hug me tight.

Costah says

I’m too wrapped up in myself.

You noticed?

How will you

emerge from me?



Tean perplexed
Tean perplexed by Costah

Tean Linpo

Vignette 17.

I look out from this
lest I be just another
from a vault deep within a temple.

Blue, yellow and lime green
are chipper enough
as is the stylish hat
with an emerging flower.

The cartouche,
Egyptian symbols
encircling my name,
protects me.

But curling stems
are not Egyptian symbols,
so really
what is shielding me?

With no line
placed at the end of the oval
no royal stature emerges.

It’s just me,
Tean Linpo.



Povolhova on mural
Povolhova on mural


Vignette 18.

Sprayed on high

as an azulejo

I fly,

a man-butterfly.

The Hopis say why

in the cocoon

I die

in total darkness

why I lie

completely broken down.

When I emerge

breathe and sigh

I do not immediately

start to fly

I sit there

to dye

myself blue

in water

in air

in fire

in earth.

My wings start


toward the sky,
gathering strength
to vie
with the currents.

My agile wisdom

shows you

your oneness

with one another

and I pollinate

the whole of creation.

These killings

of Innocents

are inscrutable

ways to pry

beauty out of

continuous change

and save

the next seven generations.

I spread my pollen

in these words

I record for you

my silent cry,

a man-butterfly,


When I visit flowers

I produce their scent.

It attracts the opposite


Will you draw nigh?

Will you ply

your world

with my nectar–








Kilos in Porto
Kilos in Porto


Vignette 19

Do you look upon me

with fear?

Do you move away

so you’re not near?

I’m standing

right in front of

a bricked up door.

For you to enter

this passage

I must move



I suppose

you will sneer

at this queer


of a man of color

outlined in white.

I steer

my own life

with not one tear,

poète résigné

with a sphere

of song,

ringing racial tinnitus

longing to escape

my ear.



Bella Phame Artist Duet
Bella Phame Artist Duet


left Phame




Bella Phame

Vignette 20.







I’m trying on your green

relaxed and fresh

You’re wearing my light purple

Already more feminine

With your grown-up pink.

Watch out!

Too much of my purple will make




I see it in your

clenched jaw

yeah excessive green

Is making me

lazy hazy crazy.

this pace of painting

tires me out

Can we switch back

our color


We emerge from

a little matrix

our faces to the wall

we paint

our backs to our viewers

like priests

in the old Latin Mass.

We don’t wish to be seen

painting our rites.





Frederico Draw
Frederico Draw on Wall in Porto

Frederico Draw

Vignette 21.


it is unfinished

so is my life

a little rough

around the edges.

My sketch pad

is this wall

my charcoals

these spray cans

my outlook

non -complaint

without explanation.

Although my face

is rough

with upturned palm

I draw you


to this Porto portal.

All that negative


is now


and gray and


Your returning


makes you part of

RUA collective.

Sound disruptive?

Isn’t this abandoned wall

someone’s property?

Can’t he just paint over

my canvas

with impunity?


it is all


That face you


is not mine.

It is yours.

(Federico Draw belongs to Propostas Urbanas Temporarias e Reabilitaçã Intervençã e Cultural e Artística)



Copyright Notice

        1. Portugal

Freedom of panorama for Portuguese works is found at Article 75, paragraph 2, point q. of the Portuguese Code of Authors’ Rights and Neighbouring Rights, covering permanent works in public spaces such as architecture and sculptures. However, it is regulated by Article 76, paragraph 1, point a., that requires attribution of the author and the identification of the name of the work for every free use, including the use of works under Portuguese freedom of panorama.

        1. Spain

The copyright law of Spain provides a freedom of panorama provision at Article 35(2), which states that “works permanently located in parks, streets, squares or other public thoroughfares may be freely reproduced, distributed and communicated by means of paintings, drawings, photographs and audiovisual procedures.”

Commercial uses of several Spanish buildings may be restricted by virtue of trademark law. Santiago Calatrava‘s Auditorio de Tenerife can be freely photographed by tourists, but as a trademarked work since 2003, it cannot be freely used by commercial photographers and cinematographers unless the said users pay relevant fees to the owner of the building. It is also required to make a deposit to ensure the photographs are used appropriately.


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