KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Tanka Prose: 635 words
in [13]

Get Up and Dance:
An e-Collection of 15 Ekphrastic Tanka Prose

by Charles D. Tarlton
[13] Alec Guinness and Yvonne de Carlo Dance the Flamenco

Still photo of Yvonne de Carlo and Alec Guinness in Captain’s Paradise

Real flamenco is like sex.

—Klaus Kinski2


As a young man in high school, it always seemed madness to me that when it came to school dances all the normal rules were suspended. A boy could hold a girl’s hand, he could put his arm around her, hold his cheek against hers, smell her hair, feel the touch of her body down to his knees. Your hand on the small of the girl’s back, the tactility of her bra straps under her dress, and her soft whispering made you crazy. Breathless, you were unable to talk. And that’s not even bringing up those dances where you were allowed to stand facing each other and move your legs and hips and hands mimicking sex as you imagined it.

not the story, no
but the dance that needs watching
who was he married
to when they did this cha-cha-cha?
see the way she works him up

belly-dancing, she
effused a vivid essence
filling the whole room
and stifling normal breathing
who knew you could move that way?

he’d heard that Yvonne
De Carlo just died of heart
failure. she’d caused his
heart to fail often enough
watching her heaving bosom


On the outskirts of Granada, in the summer of 1967, there was a Flamenco fair. The city had built row after row of temporary roofless tavernas on a vacant stretch of road just out of town, and in each one a small group of Flamenco musicians—vocalists, guitar players, dancers and singers—stomped and clapped and snapped their fingers to the music. As we went from one taverna to the next, the tumultuous music from the last faded and then transformed into the music coming from the next. We found wine and dancing and singing everywhere, and I remember getting very drunk, and how the three of us, Bonnie, John, and I, ran loudly down the little street and into the night.

something ecstatic
rose up from the fierce music
pounding on the stones
sounds driving the dancers’ blood
everyone beside themselves

a public display
this particular kind of dance
pushes up, reveals
bodies caught in relentless
darkly resonant turmoil

noises her shoes made
pounding the floor, clack, clack, clack
the scent of her sweat
violence strummed on guitars
El querer es cuesta arriba...


On one particular website I counted 110 guitar works by Picasso. They run the gamut of Modernist styles—from cubist paintings, burlap constructions, to twisted and distorted profile renditions in which you can make out only here and there some facet of a human form and the neck, body, and sound hole of a guitar. One picture, however, conventionally depicts a human: The Old Guitarist (1903-1904) shows an old man bent uncomfortably over a guitar. It is a picture full of pathos and sad beauty, but, as in all the guitar paintings, there is no music. They all are dead guitars, caricatured guitars and distorted ones. When Yvonne de Carlo dances with Alec Guinness there is music from all sides, but no sound, no imaginations of sounds, not even the erasures of sound are found in any of Picasso’s guitars.

sounds need vibration
to move the air, bouncing off
our eardrums making
us imagine we hear music
but the air on the canvas

cannot move. it’s stuck
one long note in ennui
long since slowly silenced
by layers of drying paint
more and more faintly dying

perhaps we should first
watch and listen to the film
then turn from Yvonne
and dive into Picasso’s strings
movie music in our ears


1. Still photograph above of Yvonne de Carlo and Alec Guinness, in mid-flamenco, is from Captain’s Paradise, a scene which can be viewed at:

Watch them tango in this scene from the same movie:

Both links above were retrieved on 16 June 2019.

2. Quotation is from Kinski Uncut: The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski (Penguin Books, 1997), page 179: “The flamenco of the Gypsy has nothing to do with the flamenco for tourists. Real flamenco is like sex.”

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