Brigadeer

came home from 'his' war...

with one leg, and that guitar...

a few sad songs he'd sing in Spanish;

and not a whole lot more...

he never turned his back on his country; 

not even when his country turned it's back on him

he returned lame, and fair game...

his prospects cruel and grim...

...

I'd take him his mail, and without fail

I'd learn a little bit more about 'his' time...

though he rarely spoke in English

when he was deep into the wine...

he was a good man, a veteran

of perhaps the only 'noble' war

an International Brigadeer, a Canadian...

and a 'Mac/Pap' hero, for sure...

...

he came home from 'his' war...

with nightmares... and that guitar.

   ...well... this song came about as a result of a gift of a guitar to me by my old friend 'Doc Clock' (Bill Legere), who had come across a severely damaged ( but exceedingly ornate and lovely) Spanish guitar he had found in the 'Sally Ann' in Fenelon Falls Ontario and purchased for a five dollar bill. I mooned over and coveted it; and eventually Doc gave it to me, and it hung on my wall for a few years in my basement 'office'. Eventually I took it to my 'go to guitar guru guy'  Bruce Dowd in Toronto for restoration appraisal. Bruce has an affinity for old instruments, (in particular the odd little Canadian guitars made by Arthur Hensel; the 'rare  Artist' and 'even more rare 'Minerva' models; but that's another story) and initially thought this poor guitar was beyond repair. I pointed out that he face was intact (more or less) and the 'slipper heel' common to guitars of that ilk and era had kept the neck straight (more or less). Bruce eventually allowed me to leave it with him to see what he might choose to do, and of course he rose to the challenge and brought it back to life. The label declared it to be made  by one 'Telesforo Julve' in Valencia, Spain; and when I did a little research, came across a great deal of information on the luthiers of Valencia compiled by one Ton Bogaard of the Netherlands. Ton and I became 'pen pals' of a (digital) sort, and he dated the guitar to the early 1930s, according to the series of digits in the telephone number on the label. It occurred to me that perhaps the guitar had made it's way to 'backwoods' Ontario in the hands of a returning veteran of the Canadian battalion the Mackenzie/Papineau Brigade- the 'Mac/Paps'; who volunteered to try and support the democratically elected government being over run by fascists in what we know (what very little we know) as the 'Spanish Civil War'. The call went out for help, and help came from many quarters. I suspected a song to hiding in the little guitar; and when I sent the first verse to Ton, he replied that it was 'too heavy' to start a song with. I pointed out the inherent irony of a fellow by the name of 'Ton' (ton/tonne) telling me anything was 'too heavy', and went on to construct a tale to fit my imagining. One of the very few lyrics I have woven from the 'whole cloth' of fantasy, but I hold it (and the little Spanish guitar, tuned down a full step) close to my heart. 

   'Brigadeer' seems to not be recognized as a legitimate word by the 'powers that be' on this platform, and though I do make occasional concessions to 'AmericaSpeak'; this will not be one of them. A breathtaking chapter in history that was never even touched on in my 'formal' education, as I recall.  I make reference to 'the only noble war' simply because that particular conflict stands apart from the profit motivated engines of death that most (if not all) wars seem to be to me. Democracy was under attack in Spain, and any men and women the world over put their lives on the line it it's defence. Something I intend to research further. love to all, d.

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