(Memnos II) – A Silence In Which No One Sings

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        I’d like to think that, if you made it to this point, you hold the glory that my poem holds not, as you withstood it. I don’t particularly like anything I produce these days, but this one was a delicate endeavor to iron-out. Written over nearly two months, revised hundreds of times, wholesomely deleted in countless others, I don’t think any poem has ever caused me this amount of hardship in conception. Alas, I truly wanted to write another poem-of-memory, this turn related to my first youthful love and how I’ve felt about it hitherto.

        If you’re still with me, my gratitude is endless. I cannot fathom someone reading the entirety of this composition, but if you’ve liked even a portion of it, it would already allow worth into my strain, for which I would be unfathomably happy.


Johnny

(PS: The poem “Alto Como o Silêncio” is by Santomean poet Maria Manuela Margarido, which I translated for the purpose of citation; to my knowledge, there is no translated version of her works by a professional in such field)

(Memnos I) – Alluvium

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        I was vanished; A most egotistical subterfuge, but naught without its proper cost. Approaching my date of birth by last December, I suffered a massive plunge in my mental integrity, followed by some level of tragedy, anguish, and some sparse instances of recuperation. This is most common to me since my early childhood, yet, still incredibly difficult to pull through. I am yet to fully pull through…

          I cannot outwardly write in such deep chasms of self, and my emotional sensibility becomes convoluted, nearly surrealistic, without a geometric nor organic form, which is a common symptom of a hindered artistic performance. Some find beauty in that hindrance, and to some degree, so do I; It is different, however, when one is the recipient of such chaos. To augment a fragmented emotional self is a perilous task, as it differs from the plenitude of wholesome transmission — where the emotion is left in the rear-view mirror — and instead magnifies the locations of shattering.

         Although I may not claim to be as rejuvenated as I would like, I still very much miss this sumptuous community of poets which I adore so dearly, and counted each second to return; For now, I will publish only small and unambitious inklings of poetry that I shape from memories of my childhood, as the one displayed above, as to ease myself into descriptive views and then transition into the emboss of emotional production once I am more prepared to do so.

But I’ve missed this so much; I didn’t think I would be as happy as I am now, but it truly bathes me with joy…


JOHNNY

A woman. (english poetry)

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To my Grandmother; I’d wish to make something better for her, one day. But I’ve always been enchanted with her choice to stay, despite everything, she stays in her home, and intends to die there and nowhere else. That is a beauty I cannot yet capture.

But one day, Avó, one day.

She wasn’t taught to read nor write, so I know my greatest communication isn’t adequate for her. But, growing up by her side, I knew to communicate differently; with truly firm hugs, and the trémule of one’s voice, the pulse of a touch — all truly worth saying, dispenses words, as it lives above, purely in the senses.

She will never read my poems, but she knew them before anyone did. She knew them, even those I do not yet know.

JOHNNY

 

⌉|⌈ – Ethan’s Petal Dance

And now, the moment. Such a moment is unique. It is, of course, brief and temporal, as moments are, ephemeral, as moments are, elapsed, as moments are, in the next moment, and yet it is decisive, and yet it is filled with eternity. Such a moment must have a special name, let us call it: the plenitude of Time.


Søren Kierkegaard, in his Philosophical Crumbs (Translated by M.G. Piety in his Oxford World’s Classics edition, with its translation retouched by me, based on my Portuguese [Relógio D’Água, with translation by José Miranda Justo] copy of the same work)


Platforms such as these are not only mediums to project our works, but also, to withstand our passions; those which, static or volatile, orderly or lost, ripple across our sighting of our world as a rainstorm-at-sea. At sea, most likely, is how most of us experience reality, along with some sensible doubts and senseless certainties; but this perdition is — as it has been — a moment of eternal recuperation. One must operate, as one does, and further still, navigate reality, while holding grip of a road which isn’t there, of a route too-faded (much like your forest-dark, E.), and a race against phantom figures of truth and non-truth. The question, then, is the thread which is pulled to unravel eternity; for a question, in itself, may be eternal, and any semblance of answer — for its own rigour — cannot be so. Søren found his eternal answer in God, insofar as it sufficed in a philosophical landscape hand-made by Plato and drawn out into existentialism, but it may not be, for many of us; and many more, still, search for that knowledge. 

Platforms such as these present me the utmost pleasure of observance upon the journeys of many, as many observe my own; but hollow words have a metal taste. Many bright minds — some much superior to my own — go critically undiscovered along the swamps of what is continuously produced.


“I hold a conversation, bound in leather,

  and, though it speaks not to me,

  I pretend.” 

Ethan, untitled poem, found here. 

Once rooted, one comes to understand that: if the ground was any wider than the inches our feet inhabit; or the lines of the horizon, any wider than our plan of sight, one would succumb to the eternity of each moment; almost slouched into a state of paralytic indolence that echoes itself as it elapses. To resist such crushing motions, is to firmly reduce — like only a human-mind can — and slowly carve out the reduction, bit by bit, to a frequency dictated by our preparedness to sculpt, and knowledge that such small crumbs may be taken without collapsing our structures. 

Alas, I’m not a philosopher, but merely a child in this world, with a pen of permanent ink and a hair that parts at will (my sincerest plight). I take advantage of my confusion, and make poems that encapsulate that very same eternity of each moment — to varying degrees of success — but always wary, might the ritual itself ever become obitual, which it surely will, and I surely won’t stop. 


“Man must now bear his own meaning, for the world will no longer accept the projection. We have blasted apart its mythic strength with our knowledge, burned the bridges between other and self, so we carry that self without the gods.”

Ethan, in “Transcendence as a lived possibility rather than a metaphysical truth”, found here.

A person accepting enough of such demand aforementioned, and thus, presented with the abound humility such task carries in itself, is a person whose intellect can be reliable; for, even if faltered, even if insufficient, it shall never be ill-conceived. Humility and, by extent, understanding and interest of what lays unknown, are the primary instruments of our betterment, in whichever garments they might appear dressed in. 

A poet, a philosopher, a store clerk or a sailor — we navigate different seas within the same ocean; but they are all seas, nonetheless, and they are sumptuous in both beauty and terror, rumbling and resounding beneath our platforms, eroding the pylons in which we stand; and, bit by bit, we all sculpt what lays left, and survive for as long as we’re able. But, together, as those very senses of other and self are immolated, we survive longest, brightest, and with a warm heart. 

Ethan is, to my view, one of the brightest minds I’ve had the pleasure of encountering, one whose words rumble and resound nearly as loudly as those seas, but with the gentility of a placid pond. It is a sight — a truly unique sight — to encounter someone with such a refined intellect, and yet, so sincerely enthusiastic about humanity; It isn’t innocence, nor frailty, nor hope. It is, in my humblest view, the sign of a Man seeing the path, the route, and the race, as ornate windows to reformation, rather than infinite reflections. He holds much potential, among the most I’ve seen, and it would be a true loss if he was to be swept by turbulence. At times, all I’ve needed was someone to share my passions with, and you, my readers, have done me a service for which I shall live in perpetual gratitude. Would you be so kind as to check his oeuvre, as surely more is to come (fingers-crossed for poems), and perhaps it might be as solacing to you, as it is to me. 

You can find him at Rooted Contradiction, and by all means, please do. 

As my time-slots widen, not only am I spending more time preparing the Cantos, as I’m able to check many different blogs and works. And, with permission, I might make more of these posts, not only to begin repaying my debt of gratitude, but also for this passion we live in each moment, which is so dearly ours, and collects us all so tenderly together. 

Thank you much! 


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Of Worth Onto Self. 

 


             My strides and vigour in poetic refinement, albeit little, have warranted me much trust from a few deambulatory souls (including many from WordPress, I adore you all dearly), whose abound kindness and levity allowed my work to be weightless, and live freely, in whichever form it holds, and whatever path it may pursue. This trust — or perhaps, credence — has led a fair few to the haunting question of worth; “Is my poem good?, Am I a good writer?”

           Assuming a grounded perspective upon the canticles of quality, and furthermore, interest, of course a work can be good, or satisfying, or accomplished; And any, with or without knowledge in the Art, may cast conclusions, and both the question and the following answer are inexorably legitimate. But who does that serve? 

      A scale of worth is, then, given to mires of juxtaposition; A work with higher verisimilitudes to those exalted by literary canons, is one of higher worth; At least, as one is quick to assume. Poetry, akin to any medium of Art, devours itself in non-absolution, and there are little reasons — in my view — that the Artist, too, should be devoured, or grimmer yet, should devour itself. But the recipe is clear, albeit not, and it shades externally as something clear, when internally, the same couldn’t be more false. “Be sincere.”; As I’ve said, many times; But that alone is insufficient to edge anyone into a more rightful direction. Bukowski was a tenderly sincere man, and to a different extent, so was Mallarmé, or Miss Ana from across the street, whose morning smile while stacking bananas is so worthfully poetic as Heródiade. There is nothing good about a poem, and there is nothing evil either; When it is sincere, it merely is and it requests little else; It isn’t as hungry as the immensity of Art, nor must it be crushingly artful. It musn’t be anything, and it can be nothing; Because we can feel anything, and we can feel nothing, and this isn’t good nor bad, it just is, just as it needs to be. Sincerity, to me, does not resist judgement, but flows with it. Much like a poem. 

         One is then tasked with reaching that medium of gentility in which sincerity, by itself, does not overbear the relay; It is a fine sheet of ice, and it will crack and dip, and at times, sink and resurface; But after that line, there is no return, and along those cracks, no repair. This medium is a sinuous, tranquil glade, where words fall into a doze. It is a home to some, and a graveyard to others, and sometimes, both. But it is not a permanent space, as it tolls heavily. You must be the ship that dares back into the turbulent seas of a self-serving reality, and ache. 

           This, too, is a heavy thought; Almost a level of mystical, peppered with surreal; But I, who write poems, venture into that place, as I believe Bukowski might have, or Mallarmé, and certainly Miss Ana, who is likely to visit very often. We all do; Versing, restocking, breathing, existing. One who requires fleeing, insofar as it imagines such escape, is already halfway escaping into just that thought; And that, maybe, might be why imagination is so warmingly sincere, even if surreal, absurd, and aesthetically mystical. 

         To those who’ve known my aesthesis, I’ve often stated that I do not find my poems good, I never have, not once. Why do I keep writing, despite that? Why do most of us? Well, to me, I just sincerely want to. Regardless of worth (of self or others), or even that cast by others; these are all structural to improvement and growth, but not to worth. Thus, being sincere simply means believing your work is, as it must be merely what it is, irregardless of whatever it should perceivably be. This might sound like a gamble on semantics, but in truth, that’s what it is: to deconstruct this noxious seed that something as volatile as Art, can ever hope to be ideally good. That such a rigid concept of worth can co-exist with human entropy, either of self, or others. One, therefore, does not hold worth, since it is what it must be, and shall change — by will or design — to whatever it must, simply because it must. 

         To be frank, my singular hope is that you who reads me, and simultaneously, also writes (like most of you do), fear not for the worth of your sincerity, as perhaps you have before, and are likely to do again. Remember my words, when such malaise sweeps your mind, and they may soothe you. I really hope they do. 


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Arboretum


                Days are colder. Men stroll with long coats and laden heads, guarded from the rain, women grip their catatonic hearts, gazing into their reflections on the sultry train windows. I don’t remember the last time I cried. I’d swear I’ve seen sunlight in the past few weeks, but such memory escapes me. The Summer that just evaded is now another distant shard, and somehow, I remember my nineteenth Summer with more clarity, than I do that which just passed. 

                 Kids are still as radiant as heat itself, seasons aren’t seasons to them, but simply a permeable haze that hovers through; it doesn’t weigh on them, little weighs on them, little weighed on me when I was a child. I remember when I ceased being a child, the very day, down to the very second. I was thirteen, marked by a shortness that would take its time to grow, and a coal-black hair coated with gel and pumped up, like a porcupine, which would become my nickname throughout those years (Ouriço, in popular Portuguese). It was the fifteenth of May, I know the date as I know my palm, as it was the day to visit the Arboretum with my class of petulant boys. The morning extended, as my stomach rattled with excitement, almost an effusion that I’ve ever rarely felt since. Eargerness, perhaps, in contrast with present-day anxiety, with the only distinctive factor being that of willingness to do, rather than drainage by the thought. The rains of May were barely settling, but enough for the condensation to fill the in-betweens of the bus-glasses, creating this pendular effect, water bouncing and mixing with more drops, and drops fusing, dancing, consuming other drops and tracing more paths, akin to the roots of a tree. The clouds transitioned like foreign passengers, and for small minutes, they would eat the Sun, and then spit it back up, so it could warm entire lands, entire fronts and hands and wrists. 

           We had arrived. The rattling became ever-so rattling, the heart pumped with pleasure, almost sensuous pleasure before such semantics plagued the mind, before innocence was as violent a word as banality now is. Before I knew to grip my heart and pray for it to lay serene, I would just let it beat, beat away, because there was brightness in each beat. There is still brightness in its beat, just, perhaps, a little faded and distant. 

               The Botanical Garden didn’t have a built entrance, but instead, a series of gates with discarded vases and abandoned plants. We were meant to simply go in and enjoy, as the paths of cobblestone warped like varying horizons — to a mind of a child, of course. I’ve gone back to visit the lilies each year since, and now, they are merely cobblestone paths with no true sense to their design, they merely happened to be there, as most paths, without much additional logic than to go from here to there. Still, I do recall my youthful magics trying to enchant those paths to last, or rather, begging them to last. They didn’t last. 

               I was, perhaps, one of the few children interested in the plants, and I had taken special interest in their latin names, unsure on why they poked my mind so dearly, like thorns of a Rosaceae. There were poisonous plants, and they appeared especially enticing, as if the vile of their poison was meant for you alone to endure it, and such vile was the toll of contemplating their beautiful displays of colour and form. There were trees, far too many to count, and some unveiled almost in shapes of adults, like the Baobabs and their huge bellies, or the Willows and their disheveled hairs, and Yews whose trunks were deformed enough for a small child to fit between them (and fit, I did). When Time struck for lunch, we all gathered at the core of the Garden, near the window-palace, home of the most delicate little greens. I’d cease the opportunity to escape after the count, and stealthily (a child-level of stealth, as in, everyone can see you, but they aren’t really paying much attention, so you feel like a true-born spymaster) run into the North side of the Gardens. 

                 A little ways past the small pond filled with mallards, there is a muffle of white-lilies, perhaps the most common you could find if you hiked through an oak forest. I remember it all, even the sounds — a recorder, perhaps, is what I am above all. I kneeled by the lilies and leered them through and through, and I could feel them speak to me, although not make up fully what they transmitted, and I recall my heart sinking into my chest like a cold boulder, my eyes widening, and a cry — not a whimper or a wail, not even a lament, a merest cry, a couple tears shed silently and without expression, almost as if half of them fell within, into an invisible, placid pond of emeraldrine mallards. My father had died two years prior, and I’d recall his death, and they spoke of him, but said almost nothing, with each stuttered syllable becoming a spear thrusting into the aerial arms of childhood that cocooned me, until it was completely stripped of me, or I of it, or both. 

                To this day, I do not know why that was, or how it came to be. I’ve felt lonelier since with each passing Summer, and by each, I return to that Garden and whichever lilies it holds, and I look for him. Unsure if I’m searching for my father, or for my child, or both. I believe to still not hold the words to describe what the demand is, and by being a recorder, I’m also bound to be a describer, and each year since I’ve brought the descriptions of all the beauty I can still sight beyond those lillies, my etchings and poems and notes, and I kiss the forehead of that boy still-wandering the gardens, still feeling the chill of the ponds and gazing at latin descriptions. Still smiling into those lilies. I give it all to him, as my words beget new plants for him to see, for him to feel eager about. I give it all to him, so he may know I still live a beauty worth living, and yet, incomparable to his. I don’t know why this is, or how this came to be. But I’m at peace with it. 


JOHNNY

Canto IV – Dead Narcissus (Prostagma)

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Psychologists, when encountered by someone highly entranced with the concept of Death, insofar as it creates deep psychological impacts, have come to call it Anguish of Death. Either by intense fear — Thanatophobia, or strong passion — Thanatophilia, Death, as it is modernly conceptualised by medium of the Ancient Greeks, can easily take a large space at the core of human social structures, and even individual human structures. As it is so encompassing, so impending and inexorable, it is easy to crumble under its weight.

My Thanatos, then, draws from that mixture of existence and impermanence. Not a reaper nor a culler, nor an agent of silent or peaceful death, he is, rather, a materialised version of Anguish itself.  Not made to be cruel nor merciful, but instead, just there, and always there, until there is no longer a there.


JOHNNY

Canto III – Moratorium (Prostagma)

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Appendix A 1

Appendix A 2

 


I’ve since changed jobs and the novelty of adaptation is taking its toll. As such, I haven’t been able to write remotely as much as I’d wish. Canto III is a simple introduction into the first arc of the story, as well as ground-work to introduce Thanatos as a regular character (which will happen in the next Canto). This one isn’t all that great, truly, but my energy levels are scathing.

The Appendix is not a required read, but rather, a big edit of one of my many pages of conceptualisation for the story. The Battle of Kytinion was a central catalyst to the story, so its accounts will be many and varied throughout the epic; thus, Thanatos account is facultative; but since I’m currently building his parsonage, I’d figure this was an interesting and fun opportunity to write as he would.

I will post other Appendix throughout the Cantos, as I’m awful at drawing, and showing you nice visuals of these events (that I do have in my mind), is outside my reach. As such, I’m bound to conceptualise through words, and appendixes are the only mediums for that.

Disclaimer: Canto III holds many references to Max Richter’s oeuvre, including “Catalogue of Afternoons” and “On The Nature of Daylight“. Appendix A contains some references to modern musician Bon Iver, with “Moon-Water” and “Caught in Daylight” being the most prominent. 

Thank you much, for reading me.


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Für Alina

In 1976 — a year hardened by a big exodus within European confines, Alina, then eighteen years of age, left Tallin, Estonia, for a more promising life in England. Shipping in embrace with her father, she left only her mother, who was left in solitude. Arvo Pärt, by then a long-time friend of the family, syphoned from his years of composing and wove one of the most influential and sumptuous works of musical minimalism — Für Alina, the emblem of his tintinnabuli stylistic approach.

Music, unlike any other basilar-Art, envelops and takes command of a singular sense perception, and opposite to what modernistic music-videos would have you believe, Music itself pylons above little else than sound. Any aesthetic extension is dismissible to the gestalt of a piece. If a composition cannot support itself, a music-video has no worth, and shan’t amend the issue, since it is not constituent to the Art at-hand. There is, however, a very important semblance of aesthetic (by medium of thematic) in Music, laid at the very core of what makes Music, well, Music: giving order to noise and shape to silence — the simplest, most sincere description of the Art. 

Pärt, however, had many trepidations with that unique conception of his craft, and his dark, strikeful soul, compounded with the frigidity and abound lifelessness of the Estonian landscapes, opened those mires of sound that would pend and dip into those chilling waters of silence. He discovered that, perhaps, the soul of a weeping mother, missing and fearing dearly for her child, might connect more with the softness of absent sound than with the cadence and encore of a sole violin.

At roughly seventeen, I first heard this composition being played at a concerto in Lisbon’s suburbs, held in a poorly-lit office room with what felt like six sombering, silent listeners. Maybe such setting allowed me to feel the profound isolation hand-crafted by Arvo, the lingering restlessness of his notes, coalesced with sumps of a silence so-dense, so terribly overwhelming, it becomes a luscious shade that dances around you, and beats at tandem to a shrivelled heart. Alina was gone. Alina left, and with her, she took only her mother’s light, her mother’s life. And how many have done so, since, like Alina has? How many left? Leaving in their wake, the sounds of marching feet, slammed doors, doleful grunts and grievous wounds, followed by a prompt of marginal silence? Silence so long, so withering, it seems to hug you with heat?

Für Alina soothes (and suits) best, those who feel abandoned at the margins of a big, haunting desolation, much like Arvo did, much akin to Alina’s mother; but also, the composition itself does not lean only on a negative effect — there is, simultaneously, moments were it lends itself to the release of youth, to the prospect of a more-complete life, a stroll of innocence within the avenues of a reality where such innocence is rewarded, and not condemned, nor abused. But all the while, silence is still there, thus, pain is too; no truthfully sincere vision of a positive future may exist in a bubble of suspension, there must be descent, that bubble too must pend and dip into the chilling waters of silence; there is no courage in leaving, without fear for what is left behind. Arvo, then, dares not to shy away from his still-silent soul, one that still hurts much, even in the moments when it hurts less. Arvo then upheld the truth of a minimalist — that sadness and serenity cannot be fully translated by adagios and staccatos, that release and catharsis cannot be fully translated by crescendos and da capos, but that Music itself exists only because Silence does, too. This idea, this seed that Silence itself can be a carrier of Art, a medium of emotion far beyond our conventional perception of music, was thought of way before Pärt existed, but he alone mastered the weaving of silence beyond any of his predecessors, acing it with a grace and mastery equal only to the silent landscapes of his Estonian youth. 

I often ponder on this, for Pärt heavily influences my poetry, perhaps more than many poets I admire, and without ever stringing a singular verse; I connect more with his silence, than to the pristine sound of a Shakespearian sonnet; Because I am made of more silence than I am of memories of rosie lips and venetian balconies. Because life is as much a song, as it is a pause. A long, beautiful song, and a longer, sombering pause. 


I will leave you with a fellow Portuguese artist, Joana Gama, playing Für Alina with incredible technique and properness:


JOHNNY

Sola Fide, Semper Fide (english poetry)

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Another (Sinelos) composition, as they are all I can write start-to-finish, these days. Roughly 1,300 men died building the Palace of Mafra, at the Time, a Convent and not a Palace. I thought it would be interesting to write something about it, as we do not know who they were, but we do know what they died for. A brief disclaimer: this poem does not quest to heat-seek why people believe, but rather, how they rationalised those beliefs, and how they served (and still serve) as firm utilities to dismiss very human emotions. Constructions, either metaphysical (Absolutes) or physical (A Convent), are not worthier arbiters of our lives than we are.

If you disagree, that is great! Let me know, as my thoughts may be (and probably are) incomplete, and I might come to agree with a firm argument. To live, is to learn.


JOHNNY

Canto II (PROSTAGMA)

Cantos II 1Cantos II 2Cantos II 3


 

Initially devised with two parts (I – Lethimos Camerata and II – Moratorium), I’ve decided to make Moratorium the first part of Canto III, as not to over-saturate this already emotionally-heavy composition.

This one, although deserving of a better construction, was very hard to compose, hence the time it took to execute; What may seem simple at first sight, as in, a victim of sexual abuse in Greeces old customs of pederasty claiming his own control over such enacted violence (a storyline I had constructed long-ago, as to inter-connect with many other elements of the story), also holds a necessary and integral part of my own life. How may we cope with what was forcefully taken from us? Well, I do not know, I’m still in a path of surviving myself; but I do know I must validate my own pain, and feel it in its most tangible form — a mass replacing that which has been taken. For too long, Lethimos refused to feel, lest he feel the pain which composed him; I, too, ran for too long; I, perhaps not as tragically as Lethimos, must also claim what lays still, rather than exalt what has been taken. I do not know to which level this may apply to you, my dearest reader, but know this: I will not bestow upon you any ill-thoughts or pity, but instead, dare to listen, for our pains, are those which we alone know best.

I love you all, you who reads me, and not lightly, but as sincerely as I can. I still haul much pain, but having that pain translate to beauty in your eyes, is a solace only a firm hug can equal.

Thank you, so much.


JOHNNY

Synergetic Existentialism (english poetry)

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Sygernetici 2


I usually stray from posting the Sinelos (Surrealist) variant of my poetry. It is messy, highly mutated and usually a product of my Silence exercises. The more distant I become from reality, the higher the abstractions, and messier the perceptions radiating outwards. But now, people who read my works are increasingly more diverse, and I’d hope at least one person connects more heavily with my surreal side, in stead of my melodic, modernistic and lyrical composing methods.

And if not, y’know, I can dwell inside the bliss of trial.

Blessings of Akatosh upon ye!


JOHNNY

Pre-Canto & Canto I (english poetry)

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So, bear with me here; I know it’s not great, but I was mashing my brain against this first Canto without any true necessity. Poems like these require a certain heaviness I cannot fully achieve (just yet), my poetry still draws much from my own levity as a person. That being said, the form is still ridiculously volatile, and I apologise for that. So far, The Shades are mostly lyrical, Cocytus is mostly expositive and Luriam is mostly confessional. I would like to keep it that way, but still need to work on their cohesion and how the styles transition. Regardless, if you have any tips, I’m all ears!

Thank you for reading!


JOHNNY

A Dumb Exercise in Misery

         After months of arduously refining my poetics, there are still many subtle fields of necessary detail I’m yet to cover. The major — and hardest — is that is which most revered across our Art. The production of epics, akin to those of Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Homer’s Iliad, requires a level of poetic awareness that transcends mere foreshadowing. To tell an anchoring and complex story through verse, metered or not, is a huge challenge on its own. But I, your Johníssimo, have an innate hunger for my own chaos and misery, so I will try to craft myself an impish epic. Nothing the likes of those aforementioned. If I could write like Dante, I would be the first in living History to do so.

         My respect for these authors is abound, they are much like guides — maybe even parents — to the way I inspect the elements of my reality, but it only grew once I started writing in their forms. Yikes, it is truly so hard, but also, so incredibly fun. Every bit of it is challenging, and awesome. I feel a bit like a young child when I start things like these.

Even though I’m not good at it, nor close to good, I hope to improve and ease-out my struggles with it as I create it. If nothing else, at least, I can feel a bit less lonely while I do it.

The story, as far as I’ve etched it, follows Luriam, a Soldier who ventures into Cocytus in a quest to discover the Tablet of Paximus, a Hermetic Artefact that erases ones selected memories if that soul lays itself against the surface of marble.

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1st Pre-Canto


So far, the production of the Cantos has been the most streamline process of all, as they are sung by characters; and I have some ease with lyrical compositions.

The Pre-Cantos, scenario settings and outer-story elements are harder to manipulate in verse, and that’s where I have most difficulty. So far, I haven’t been able to maintain a structural verse identity without sacrificing some information. Simultaneously, I don’t want pre-cantos to be overly expositive and lack emotional approaches to the story.

I’ve found some options to counter this: shifting narration from Cocytus to Narya (Luriam’s consort), and allow emotional draws into the expositive verses; or give agency to Cocytus himself, melding with how the shades behave towards Luriam.

Screenshot 2018-09-23 at 15.14.11
A small example of Canto I, The Wail of a Solitary Shade

Despite heavily inspired by Greek Mythos, this little project has given me the chance for some original world building, something I haven’t truly done before, but always had an ache for. Places the Hymeron (The First Gate of Cocytus), don’t exist within the actual mythos, and serve as stages for the various Cantos.

Dante himself was also fond of introducing prose into some of his versed works, which is something appealing, as it does give you a glimpse of freedom in story-telling.

These poetic narratives; they feel very autonomous, like they write themselves, and you exist only to find the words. It is odd, but again, so much fun.

I plan of posting the Pre-Cantos and Cantos once they are finished individually, this beginning is specially hard, because it lays the path for everything else, but it should pick-up in pace soon enough.

Tell me what you think!, is this just another dumb exercise in misery?


JOHNNY

Thebian Dark (english poetry)

thebian dark1thebian dark2

(I work as a carpenter) — today, I was installing a smooth-stone tabletop and noticed that the colour and design of that stone was named “Thebes Black“. It is interesting what the mind can create when it takes a vision by the hand and sprints with it. Shortly after, during my lunchtime, I wrote this composition based on the name of that stone.

It wasn’t made with full-fledge, hence why it is much shorter that I would ideally make it, but I hope you enjoy it, even if just a bit. (perhaps just the smile of reading how it was inspired by such a mundane thing)


JOHNNY

Uneasy Romance with Mayhem (english poetry)

Uneasy1Uneasy2


Anyone attentive to my poetics will realise they have been quite volatile lately, becoming more robust and curated, and perhaps a bit more modernistic. Most of these, I wouldn’t truly call poems, but rather, short essays on sound. This one specifically attempts to melodiously replicate the abrupt awareness that waves with common anxiety.

I work hard to hone my ability to compose, and that also involves a lot of experimenting, along with poems that pave such progress. Right now, my topmost priority is to fabricate sound that can also be transmissible of emotion, a luxury I previously reserved to the verbal content of the composition.

This specific poem uses isolated sound shifts to pause realisation: (sinks!, sinks… sinks —) similarly to an “Oh!, Oh…” commonly used in general communication. Consonant repetition and syllabic cadence are also utilised to a more subtle degree. (also, some lousy enjambement in the second stanza, but I couldn’t fix it properly)

I’m hopeful that you don’t mind my silly experiments, and may continue this poetic quest with me. It can be a bit saturating, but necessary, nonetheless.


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Irrigation, friends.


        Leaned against the customary elm tree, some would take aim at nouvelle psychologies, others would echo life-bound lessons at the bottom of a plastic beer cup. If elation existed on summary, little else would be needed to describe the happiness blooming from friendship. I’d spent my few years of breath on fighting prejudice and carving a spot in the landscapes, as to measure the weight of my sins with that of my embraces.

              Little was expected, less was requested, and the ley-lines of kinship were bursting with movements: an arm around my shoulders, a hug so firm it freezes my flesh, turning a moment into a brass statue made to be outwardly admired. I had understood the height and worth of my words, I learned to love my speech and to gaze at the walk as a path worth replicating. I have known silence, I have known solitude; and how pallid, chalky visions they seem to have become. The lines of simplicity are aligned with themes of highest complexity, and the unrest is only natural when we serve the lordship of inner exploration; a while back, I’d coin myself as a poet of the simple and sincere, but I’m none of the sort. Life is as complex as it is simple, and the figments in between are the colours of its palette, poetry is just the chrome I use to coat the rust of days. Not much is simple about those days.

              In the Portuguese island of Madeira, levadas carry waters from the highest elevation to the southern plateaus, effectively reproducing veins. To create these channels, colonists had to burn the island for months due to its thick rainforest, essentially taking what they would then give back.
There is a certain parallel to all of this, there is a reason why levadas come to mind while I hug some of my dearest friends. A paradigm that unfolds itself on living parataxis, through disconnected clauses that present themselves as an older slide-show, burning ever-so-slightly in the heat of their projector. There is pain is non-return; there is despair in frugality; there is missing and there is saudade; a method of regret over tears that we couldn’t help but shed, a process of reclaiming days where we lived poetry just by staying in bed.

              I strike at Time and it inevitably strikes back. I bathe in the hypocrisy of blaming Time for its callous nature, rather than acknowledging my blunder as a human wired to thrive on disfunction. I see all, and during some shadowy nights, I could have declared that we all did. We all see where it hurts, what it takes, and how it must. We all live, breathe, evolve and suffocate beneath that same dust. And perhaps I carry little more than awareness that the hug was gaining momentum over those days of isolation, from the topmost of those pallid visions to the plateaus of my heart, smoothly hauling what it is to be human until that moment of touch, of irrigation, of a thrist so repressed, it pinnacles as it blooms into that sincerity and simplicity, into that hug that simply transmits: I need you, and I didn’t know I needed you, because I’m faulty and inadequate, but now I know that I need you. That is all I know, and all I need to know.

             Some of my friends are poets, and undoubtedly, they will be better than I could ever. Holding them in these fragile arms, along with the belief that briefly, I could inspire them, is all the greatness I think I will ever need.


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Sunken Soul, debris.

“Sad is what I am — what I will always be,
 an artist is born in form of a shipwreck,
 and henceforth, that same sunken soul
 shall live from scavenging the debris.”

          Existence is often homogenous with the ebb of an ocean — composed of movements, violent thrusts against the shore, soothing hymns that ascend from the waves, to the tip of a cello’s arc, producing the sharpest sounds whose harmony is replicable only by natural flow. As vast and nightmarish as the ocean can be, so can existence. As exurgent and garish its reflective surface can be, so can life be cloaked with that same brightness, when we collect at a table with dear friends, when we peak in a laughter so sharp, it hits the arc of that cello, producing a sound only the heart can see, an expression only movement can encapsulate, doing so calmly… and tenderly.

          One thematic I’ve been avoiding for quite a while is that of nomenclature, am I a writer? Perhaps a poet? Maybe, even, an artist stripped of specification? Do any of those names represent what I am, or rather, what I want to be? What constitutes a writer, a poet, an artist? What constitutes me? All questions whose validity is seeded on a necessity to exist beyond mere existence, beyond the ocean of movements and its tides, where I’m able to become the conductor of my being instead of allowing ebbs and flows to erode me, until I have shapes worth naming. But then, a vision occurs from that breath of epiphany: that of a fern, rooted in a shadowy empire. To understand the fern in its metaphysical elements, even if completely manufactured, is to understand where and why the fern exists and why it needs to exist — akin to any other plant — in this ocean of movements.
An artist is not a sculptor of new realms, or a scholar of unnamed emotions. The artist exists as a process, as a method, whose bounds of chaos and entropy along with seemingly endless creative freedom give it little more than a sense of burial at sea. Once we quest on discovering which movements of this spectral ocean truly ripple within, we are shackled to insufficiency, because the quest is unending, tiring and highly volatile. An artist is then painted semantically as a creative force, even when the process and method display the exact opposite, a form of extreme destruction. Humans are destructive by core, and as much as I try to stray away from speaking of human nature, I believe it is common knowledge that we have a tendency for destruction (albeit at times, it is justified) — what we cannot justify though, is our predisposition to destroy ourselves. The artist takes all that is to be human, all that is to be subjective, and augments it, throws it against the canvas and pages and notes and screens, all that is destructive is permutated to pure, then unruled and ravaged, broken apart and deconstructed. We justify this with Art, for the sake of Art, at the expense of that vast, nightmarish, exurgent and garish ocean. At the toll of our own sincerity towards destructive emotion.

         To be creative is to create space for that creation to elapse, and in the double-trouble of creating creation, we often get too caught up in the first part and what that produces — the pain, the sorrow and memory, the melancholy; instead of the latter, the act of creation itself. Are we even able of gripping that last stage, or do we suddenly become the escape artist of this scenario? Does the vision of that ocean of movement and the ability to bend its threads become overbearing and over-encompassing?
As I gather with friends around the table, and I laugh and elate, I realise further that a writer, a poet, or an artist — are not things I either am nor want to be, but rather states where I slowly dip my toes and feel the temperature of life, of existing, a small gate into a world where concepts become so maleable, their inevitable destruction also becomes inevitably inconsequential. My fear of this nomenclature was simply representative, because I’m not strong enough to constantly overlook the vast ocean of emotions, sometimes, I just want to drink and laugh and hear the peak of that cello’s arc without playing it myself, or writing the small introduction of cellos being played. We cannot always be outsiders, or we will perish in inertia. The movement of this scary ocean must also be our own.

Who knew battling with semantics could be this overly-poetic?


JOHNNY

⌉|⌈ – Four Chestnut Kings

Four Chestnut Kings


When I read poetry, it’s not customary to do it in one sitting, since verse can be overbearing at times, especially when the verse in question is condensed with a large amount of information or emotional overdraws. So, to break that cycle of lyricentric text, I will make a little break and explore the wonders of my culture with you.

In the Portuguese province where I grew up and still live, Ribatejo, there used to be a big amount of agriculture. In fact, most of my family still works in that field, working sun to sun along the plantations of Tagus. These men and women who journeyed from far to find work at the river basin, commonly denominated “gaibéus”, worked seasonally in the process of removing weed and debris from the yearly plantations, along with cleaning the non- cultivated fields in order to avoid crop-destroying vermin and wild-fires.

 

Being a descendent of such inspiring figures whose work was so elementary and harsh, I’ve always felt tenderly connect to the earth of our province. Its fertility and unbound resilience binds with my flesh, courses through my veins and forms me, as if I’m a plant of these fields, yielding fruits in shapes of worship and care.

In our village, four men stood as figures taken out of a painting. All day, every single day, they would gather in a stone table beneath the centurial chestnut tree that grew in the town-square, and they gambled away their hours with Swedish cards. For twenty-two years, I don’t remember ever seeing them anywhere else, and after so long, they still play the same game using the same spent and ancient deck. I’ve always been a lonely and sensitive child, and would have a hard time making friends, so I started watching them play cards in hopes they would interact with me.

The day they did and the days that followed were among the most important in my young life. And at the impish age of twelve, I discovered poetry without ever reading a poem. As Oscar Wilde says and rightly so – from my experience – “A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.”

Those men, who I’ve nicknamed “The Four Chestnut Kings” over the years, and have nicknamed me “Crow-boy”, taught me those values of our culture and earth. They taught me living poetry, the likes of which can never be written, only lived, experienced and passed onto those who are open to it.

Along their many lessons that I was far too young to comprehend, one has followed me throughout every bar I had to jump over during my trials: growth should always elevate above pride. Our world, the fragments of those who lived before us and those who shall outlive us, the meticulously woven fabric that runs through our gentle interactions, coursing from the deepest trenches of our beings and effusing everything with a touch of pure selfless humanity, all these concepts require nurture and growth well beyond what one person can contribute. But we all should, we must.

 

My little corner of the world still lives and breathes faintly, and as sure as the Sun shall rise, the pillars of our culture will weaken and collapse. Younglings like me are tasked with preserving the legacy of those who have preceded, and assure that it continues. Whether in our Art, in our strange and fast speech that no one can understand at times, in our cold buildings whose freshness allowed us to prosper during harsh Summers, or even in our strange obsession with wine and piquette. Who I am, and the simple fact that I am, I owe to my rich and ancient culture, and perpetuating it through conservation is beyond imperative to me. For as long as I live, so shall my culture.

 

(II)


The First King, Sr. António, taught me that he would have never been happy had his life been different. Such humility and resolve isn’t a consequence of self-indulgence or denial, but rather, the mere act of seeing endless beauty in the particles of dust visible by sunlight between those chestnut leaves. The same specks we are often reduced to when the large and ever-hungry concepts of infinitude and meaninglessness assault us, giving us sight of a Universe that far precedes our presence and will long outlive it. But we needed’t be small bellow those distant stars, we can instead relish in the fact that we have the ability to see them, feel their heat and radiation, witness their light-year brightness. The simple fact we can conceive these concepts shouldn’t be reason to reduce us, but rather, it should empower our visions and ambitions.

 

The Second King, Sr. João, insisted that no love ever equals the first. Although I’ve always questioned his truth, he seemed headstrong about the universality of what he affirmed. To him, the first time you fell in love was the most important, perhaps not the most intense or pleasant, maybe even short-lived and insufficient. He said it could have lasted seconds, and that still wouldn’t change the magnitude of its influence within our beings. It took me a while to understand, but I believe he might be correct.

The Third King, Sr. Lima, was an avid fan of traditional Portuguese culture, often stating that he would never bear dying outside of Portugal, hence why he never left the country. The slightest risk of not ending his life where it started, he said, would be reckless, because doing so would devalue every figment of his being. Portugal had given him everything, every moment of joyous pleasure and every laughter, the smiles and giggles of children, the sinuous shapes of grape-picking women that he flirted with in his youth. All of it was his, all for him to blossom and grow, melodies made for him to hum and dance to, but more importantly—it was all sufficient.

 

The fourth King, Sr. Zé, would often say that the world always gives us more than we can give back, while the others nodded with certainty.

From that point on, I started looking at moments cinematically. The conversations between my parents as I rode with them across the mountainside dirt roads, the breathing patterns and subjects, everything aligned in a grand display of colours and lights. My first love was this land, and I couldn’t be happy elsewhere. Giving back to it is my singular purpose, through poetry and prose, Art and life, I plan to give every atom of my body to this earth, certain that I shall never be able to give it more than what it has given me. That, in its most profound essence, is comfort. And the cinematic life I’ve been granted in its rawest form, is my living poetry.


Johnny

Part of True-Ultra.

Uma Ode a Paulo Cunha

Paulo, desculpa-me, fora a primeira Ode que alguma vês terei escrito, por vias disso, não será a melhor que já haveis lido, talvez nem a melhor dedicada a ti. Mas gostei muito de a escrever, porque a escrevo para ti. Quem não conhece o meu querido Paulo, ele vive aqui.


ode 1

Ode 2

Ode 3

ode 4


João Maria Azevedo, com ajuda de Eugénio de Andrade, na sua tradução da “Ode a Federico Garcia Lorca”, escrita por Pablo Neruda, e com ajuda de Verlaine, na sua “Canção de Outono”, citada na primeira estrofe.

 

Contra-Poetry #2: Innovator Mode

As we navigate an age of velocity and information, it is often easy to befall the entrapment of disengagement with our own simplicity as human beings. The Artist is a figure attributed to emotion, and as such, it holds dominion over such a vast and spectral realm, that the sensation if of infinitude. But although emotions might be infinite in variables, we’re not. We are inherently capped beings with limits and thresholds, those which we can expand and increase with effort and work, but never fully evade them all-together.

I’ve talked much about format and content and how they must be weighed simultaneously, but one of the greatest reflection of that is the act of overdraw, where we feel the need and obligation to feel so original, so nouvelle, that we start sacrificing the very foundations of what makes poetry, well, poetry.
I also talk much about what poetry is to me (emphasis on to me), but for understanding my view, one must understand where it comes from:

“Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in the best order.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The simplest, most sincere description of poetry I think I’ve ever come across. Why? Well, if we extend the topic, we can get a grasp of how divisive the opinion over poetry is. Some say it is lyrical, others say it is formless, and most say it is simply the act of versing. The boundaries of such are virtually non-existent. According to present Academia, an entire book about nuclear chemistry can constitute a poem, might it be claimed as such by the author, especially when illogically, in my view, poetic prose was placed on the category of poetry and not prose. We might as well name is a prosaic poem.
I reject this notion when applied to poetry that I’m interested in purchasing, again, it is necessary to draw the separation between poetry as a therapy and artistic release, and poetry as a commerce and constituent Art.

Because if poetry doesn’t need to be anything, well, then it doesn’t need to exist, just another term whose vagueness makes it dispensable. That is exactly why it is vanishing, because of that shift to the unreal, because people have so little to expect nowadays when they buy a poetry book, it simply isn’t a genre they can truly identify with. There is nothing to materially identify with, there are no shapes to feel, akin to standing in an dark room and be expected to find the needle.
We order to reclaim the singular and unique form poetry once had — that of being the best words in their best order — we must be wary of what those words and that order mean, and in this case, substance and form.
Modernism made us aware that substance is very mutable and specific, so one must outcast the idea that certain words must be used in order to achieve certain results. Emotion isn’t math, and nor is poetry. That much, I absolutely agree with — as Bukowski showed us, we mustn’t be geniuses to express ourselves with brilliancy, because sincerity and conveyance are often times more important than the subject actually being conveyed.

Modernism deconstructed a toxic fuel to poetry, but it left a lot to desire when it came to form. Authors like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, for example, are notable exceptions of the movement in great part because of their stunning formation of thoughts, and even if seen as a strike at lyricism at the time, they both maintained a brilliant rhythm and sound formation. But these, as good as they might be, do not fully represent the Modernistic movement, and at the time, many authors stomped form into a grain of insult. (So much so, Frost would be incessantly attacked for being too traditional compared to his Modernistic contemporaries, something still happening today within poetry circles).

We want new things, we want better things, but we often disregard what has come before, may it not fit our creative will. But how can one create something truly new without knowledge of what has already been done? Of what worked and did not?

And form isn’t just lyricism or rhyme, it isn’t syllabic division or stanzaic structures, nor is it sestinas, haikus and sonnets. Form is less than all of that, because it is simply how you transmit what you want to transmit, what vehicle moves you towards your words rather than furthering the distance. And that might be simply verse autonomy, or the usage of extreme punctuation. Unlike content, form is not infinite, but its limitations shouldn’t be something that scares us, but rather, dares us to find ways to create freely.

In reality, I have the absolute notion that none of my poems are truly new, they have references and influences, and I’m aware of all of them, because that awareness allows me to reshape my thoughts into something only I could construct. Words are to poetry as oil is to a canvas, they’ve all been seen before, broken apart merged together, but your dance with these old fragments of communication and beauty, that beautiful waltz of colour, that is something indisputably yours. A poem which I can call truly mine is still floating at distant seas, but I write as I swim, and one day, I’m gonna get there.

All I ask, after all of this, is that you come with me.


JOHNNY

P.S: Have you ever heard of Bossa Nova? If so, check out Baden Powell‘s “Poesia On Guitar“, an album that attempts to translate poetry into melodic tracks without singing, and it brilliantly manages to do just that.

Brimrose and Redstone (english poetry)

I’ve been back into the dating game for a couple o’ weeks now, and we ask such cruel questions to ourselves when we analyse our worth towards being wanted, or being loved. At least, I do. I feel insufficient, and this composition stems from that.

brimrosebrimrose 2


JOHNNY

P.S: Kind of a long one, eh? If you made it this far, I would like to point you to the direction of Dead Combo, a portuguese duo of guitar and bass, whose ability to refine feelings into perfect cords has never ceased to impress me. My favourite album of theirs is called “Lusitânia Playboys” and my favourite song, “Like a Drug“.

Sundials of Bakrit (english poetry)

Going through a bit of an ideological crisis, hence the erratic nature of my compositions. I promise to do better as I regain my normal self, but for now, I can think of really great themes and then execute them only partially. It’s this sort of memory blockage, I suppose.

sundials 3


JOHNNY

P.S: I wrote this while listening to Max Richter’s “The Blue Notebooks“, a beautiful collection of contemporary classical compositions inspired by Kafka‘s work. I will do these musical mentions more often, I enjoy sharing what I love, maybe you can love it as I do.

Contra-Poetry #1: Spectator Mode

I’ve always been fearful about debating the constituents of Modern Poetry. Many things have elapsed between the outer edges of lyricism and the poetic revolution of Modernism and Post-Modernism of the twentieth century, and many more have been extensively debated and explored. The state of poetry requires no true explanation, however, because the same is palpable: declining, withering and un-captivating.
Why? That’s a complicated question, even grasping the width of what is being asked seems to be an exhausting task, but many can be tackled individually without being smothered by higher scopes. To me, the production of modern poetry fails on many fronts, and between abstractionism and minimalism (both highly unstable chains of literary generation) one can only agree on a singular vision if only one poem is analysed, anything else would be overly ambitious.
Conveniently, over-ambition is my middle name.

Spectator Mode

One of the most common communication mistakes I see in Modern Poetry is the distance crafted between poetic narration and poetic subject. This is, of course, reinforced by the usage of pronouns such as “she” and “he”, and you might be more familiar with the paradigm if I exemplify:

“She was formed of shimmer and golden-dust,
she glanced the sky with rose-form and blood,
she wept, sighting those made of iron and rust.”

Merely an example with no true conveyance that I made in a second and a half, but the idea is there. The She, the He, are experiences akin to those Arts of Hollow Men, they are conjured to inspire an empathic relation between the reader and the poem, but they do precisely the opposite. The She and the He, the They, are but objects of a poetic landscape, and as objects, they cannot mutate as fluidly as a poetic subject can. The vision; the transmission — must occur in the gap between the vision of the poet and their ultimate subject. Generating a false distance between the two is a lie many keen readers wont be willing to bite into.
The inability to create a tangible sensation of humanity within ones own composition mustn’t be corrected by stripping that humanity all-together.
Of course, this does not apply to lengthy narrative poems where the pronoun in question actually relates to a character that was previously constructed — although even then, the product can be considerably insufficient, ex. Margaret Atwood’s “Penelopiad”, whose construction was so detached that I genuinely believed Penelope was nothing more than a prop outlining the spaces where the poetic narrative took place.
It is an easy trap to fall into, one that is created by our own sense of insufficiency. But I tell you this, might I know little more: anything truly essential, anything with enough weight to be transmitted, is something that only the heart is able to encapsulate. The “She” and the “He”, and even that distorted Penelope, are but constructs of fear.
To unlock that transmutation of essentiality to poetry — or any other Art — must be a speech your heart imparts towards another.

I’ve personally never constructed poems like these simply because I do not know how to transmit what I want to transmit without being myself. The “I” of my poetry is the only “I” I’m able to create, even if false or imaginative, it is still something I can materially shape. Allowing yourself the freedom of communicating as a being rather than a master, to the point where you belong to a story rather than create it, to the point where reality is the dome you inhabit even when you attempt to escape it, is a truth that unlocks the devices necessary to produce actual genuine work. Work that not only resonates, but can be overpowered by someone else. The Shes and Hes will always be Shes and Hes, to any of us. But the I, that can be any of us, and I need to allow it that luxury, otherwise I’m strangling my poem even before it leaves the pen.

Of course, analysing these aspects can come off pretentious or detached, because not everyone constructs poems with the intention of general availability or understanding. To many, it’s merely a therapeutic activity and serves its purpose as such. I don’t often feel the need to criticise any poem on WordPress because there is no need to do so objectively, it is simply human expression and every single one I’ve read, whether my type or otherwise, whether nicely constructed or otherwise, has beauty of its own and by its own merit.
What I propose analysing here is poetry as a commerce, that which is sold and traded, and by consequence, must present a level of quality that justifies the interest. It is also of interest to mention the anglo-centric nature of this post, since I’ve never read any poem in Italian, Portuguese, French or Spanish that utilised this method of extreme spectating. I’m not sure why it is so exclusive to English, but I suppose its but a product of a fragile poetic culture, and because English was the seat of power to Modernism and other movements that allowed the rejection of classical composing methods.

If by any chance you use this technique to write, I have no intentions of demoralising you from using it. I also have no doubts that incredible compositions can be made using it, because poetry is much more than the usage of pronouns, but if you felt like something was “off”, I might have provided some clarity. And if, for any reason, you oppose my view, feel free to comment as to why and I will provide opposition/concordance, as we all grow with dialogue.


JOHNNY

PS: I wrote this while listening to Portuguese Artist “Filho da Mãe” and his album “Mergulho“, his amazing collection of guitar instrumental work is both relaxing and incredibly inspiring for achieving mind-clarity in writing. It transcends language, so I believe everyone would benefit from giving him a shot.

Emotional Instrumentality

When I find myself careworn by poetics, I tend to gravitate towards lighter, less condensed approaches to writing. Prose is, by natural production, my least refined process, but that does not mean I cannot figuratively invent useful forms to shape it up. After all, that’s what Caliath is all about—exploration of the elsewhere.

One common struggle I undergo when etching narratives is the old and ever so demising struggle of reaction vs. response, one I’ve been quite puzzled with. Art is the inevitable necessity to communicate by way of emotion, which arrives with reaction, but a well-structured fictional reality must be accompanied by an emboss of response, as to foster a process that bleeds into the reader, allowing them to write the story as much as we do, without giving them full creative control of a world we’ve created. That would be evidently chaotic and a bedding for confusion.

As I spent my entire Sunday in hospital aiding my grandfather, I got the opportunity to create a semi-device that allows me to explore the hard-and-soft-lines of a characters approach to necessary introspection. I’ve since baptised it “emotional instrumentality”, subdivided into Tacit Form (before the character interacts with the literary scapes) and Reactive Form (after the character has been immersed in the narrative). To develop a character, one often falls into the entrapment of distancing itself from the creation. As a presumably different being, it would be odd if we built our characters strikingly similar to how we behave normally as real human beings. A character, however, mustn’t be an independent sprout of creativity, but an instrument of emotion, and to allow that character to bend and wield that emotional into depth, is to develop it further than we could initially conceive.

The application of the device is rather simple. You must force that bending by designing around it, effectively hindering the character with obstacles and then, speculate ways to bleed emotion into the escapes. I used the ancient device of interviewing, the likes of which seen in NGE, In God We Trust and Carnage. The following example is merely a quickly figured demonstration. Cascan is a character from Two Brass Towers normally known for his sandpaper personality and general haggardness towards humanity and its concepts.

## Emotional Instrumentality (IV – Cascan)

A. What is your name?

B. Cascan Montverde.

A. In which way do you primarily relate to this world?

B. Painter—used to be a painter.

A. How does society appear in the eyes of an onlooker?

B. Collapsing. A deserted waiting room with fluorescent lights. Never stopping the rattle and, still, always silent, voiding itself with greed.

A. Is that a painting?

B. Paintings are manufactured. A panel with a thousand stacked corpses reaped by the plague couldn’t equal in pain to a single second in that hospital waiting room.

A. Why don’t you paint anymore?

B. Little use. You see, an individual whose life is smothered, then turns to self-destruction. Once control evades, you search for it in every drunken night and whore-house. The craving and hunger to feel any glimpse of power in this entropic reality, it culminates in recklessness.
The artist trades that self-harm for creation, but human nature is an evil game-master. The more a work seeps into your flesh, the more intensely you build it solemnly for its destruction.

A. Are those words of the wise or the broken?

B. Will tell you as soon as you tell me the difference.

A. Cascan, what do you miss the most?

B. Whatever was worth missing, I have since been painted.

A. Is it difficult for you to talk about yourself?

B. There are millions of Men and a small handful of themes. Talking of oneself rarely dodges the horseshoe of building a delusional character or succumbing to fruitless sincerity. Awareness of that simply means every topic has been mangled, shredded and abused far before it attains a shape, including those composing the self.

A. So, is it difficult?

B. No. Just useless.

A. What other topic would you prefer?

B. I’m fond of silence.

A. Wouldn’t silence be just as fruitless?

B. In Briançon, my parents spoke of a woman who climbed the Chaberton in search of a beckoning voice she heard in her dreams. While ascending, she only had silence around her, while her mind was paved with shouts—shouts of pain and doubt, so loud that she doubted her ability to walk or even eat. She doubted her turmoiled and broken nature was worthy of such basic pleasures. She didn’t doubt her own existence, no, she was certain of it, and that was the terror. As hopelessly hopeful as our kind tends to be, she reached the peak, and the wind blew so strongly she could no longer hear the shouts, her mind was finally silent under the weight of a perspective she hadn’t seen before: that of weakness. Once one realises their inherent frailties, everything can be deconstructed, even those slithering shouts and doubts.

A. Is that the silence you yearn for? That of the mind?

B. No, I want silence of the space, the kind she experienced while climbing.

A. Isn’t that silence destructive, according to the tale?

B. Yes, but that’s just a tale. I cannot convene with a silent mind, no one can. We are unsettled by nature, curious and stampeding, inept for quietude. We need our reality as much as it needs us, and that relationship is no less than intoxicating. A silent space only fastens my descent into madness, which I beckon with open shouts.

A. Isn’t that a symptom of poetic exaggeration?

B. Everything is, why act like the form in which we construct our ideas matters more than it should? Had we any respect for the weavings of the soul, wouldn’t everything be as poetic as it is emotional?

A. It the individual just a collection of beliefs rather than emotions?

B. No, that’s the collective’s perspective on the individual. To a singular person in isolation, nothing elevates emotion. In fact, that’s how Art thrives, because human emotion becomes an instrument of translation without possible compare. That’s the universal language of subjectivity.

A. Is freedom a total level of control or a total lack thereof?

B. Neither. Freedom is a construct conveniently parked between the ability to will and the inability to have. It takes as much as it gives, therefore, it’s inconsequential.

A. Isn’t your ability to say that… a product of your freedom?

B. No, my ability to say these things is but a product of my unbound capacity to be wrong.

A. Then, why say it?

B. Perhaps because being wrong is, ultimately, to be free. Free of further explanation—that is.

A. Do you believe in fate?

B. Never have. It’s better to be insufficient in a present that is, than grand in a future that will not.

 


This rather simple example does not require further complexity. This scenario is striped of visual, sound and material formalities. A blank character in a blank space. But this device was not meant to analyse the way Cascan speaks or even how he presumes choice and responsiveness, but instead, a way to create the groundwork for character sculpting by narrowing his constituent tenets. I consider three of these when applying this device: position of self, perspective dogma, and self-driven emotions. Essentially, we are asking Cascan to pinpoint his perceived origins of self by conducting his emotions.
This sounds dual—in the way that I speak as if I’m not both the writer and Cascan—but it is not, nor does it need to be. These characters are fragments of myself brought onto creation, which means they are bound to reason like I do, since reason is rarely mutable. But reactions are increments of choice that we can meld and shape. A character attains tangibility by reacting to an environment, as such, emotion is a fine instrument to understand which steps to take.

This is, of course, one of my many divergent thoughts, and chances are you wont feel the need to try it. But it works for me, and for the sake of sharing, I thought it might be of value to someone. Perhaps even in concept expansion. Everything starts with a small idea.


Johnny

Ships That Dare (prose)

One of the proses found in True-Ultra.

Ships That Dare


Yet, my skin does not bleed light once cut, my memory is not a sea filled with vessels hauling treasure, and I can’t see past sky-rim. Those ships—I see them set sail and pass, wreck and sink, cast onto fiery cascades, and I see myself in them, drowning and burning.

I know how it ends; I’ve seen it before;
Comes with day, engraved by ancient lore:
They leave, and I stay.

I stay in this mental illusion of a small port-village, where the sound of seagulls preludes the daylight, but distant and faintly echoed. Where the windows radiate with the blue-hue of gentle waves, and onlookers are statically sighting the sea, waiting endlessly for a ship that will never arrive, a day that will never come.
These days held by the belly, broken and shattered in every street and any corner, are the simplest notes sang by those seagulls. The lightness of serenity—that white sand. The heaviness of doubt—that ravaging ocean. Everything fitting as if it inspired a painting, in an harmony only captured by timelessness. Everything existing, breathing and seeing directly from my body, all aligned perfectly where they previously couldn’t fit.
That very unity of aesthetic space and sensorial emotion, a painting of words and concepts, is far beyond my abilities to encapsulate. As those ships pass, I stay, and the village grows ever-so static, slowing the motions, and the harder I try to encapsulate that mirage, the stronger it presses to bevel my mind, turning a timeless figure into a limited reality.
The further my descent, the clearer I can see the origin of my constructions, and trace it back to single day crystallised within my memory:


Thornless Bramble

As a child, I was crowned as the clumsiest infant born on the year of ninety-five. I would climb every tree, most commonly fig-trees, cherry-trees and loquat-trees, being of immortal beauty dotting the spaces between decayed buildings, dripping age from their roof-tiles. I would climb them and quickly fall, so much so that I broke my forehead three times, and still have the three scars of my infant adventures paving my face. (Not sure why, I would always fall on my forehead)
Any toy brought to my hands would be quickly destroyed, and wouldn’t last hours, the same hands decorated with wounds and bandaids from breaking so many falls.
There was, however, a fabled and worthy nemesis in that forsaken village, one whose victory was far too common: the brambles. If I was to fall on a trench—which I did often—it would be in the only dug-up segment that, by stroke of luck, housed bramble-thorns. If I was to jump over the sheep gates at my grandmothers, I would always mystically land over a shrub of those nefarious berry-bushes. They won so many times that I started seeing the thorns as friends—always at my side. Anytime I see a thorn-bush today, I like to touch the spikes lightly, just to remember the pain they brought me and how quickly it would pass. The pains of today, those don’t leave so quickly. As an adult, I now begin to pray for those thorns, instead of present pains that sting much harder, much deeper.
Every-time she treated my wounds, my grandmother would say, joyful and smiling:
-“If you weren’t born, my son, you would have been invented.”
I would answer with the mischief of a plotting young devil—a boy with evil on his eyes, but sweet evil, very childish and with no ill-intent, but just to relish the feeling of sharpening my tongue:
-“They should instead invent a thornless bramble.”
She would laugh, I would smile, we were happy. While those small droplets of blood sprouted from my scarred legs, and from the high-noon light of our harsh Sun reflecting that scarlet onto my skin, we were happy.
But the vibrating lines of melancholia and nostalgia aren’t sufficient to perpetuate that day. There was a sentiment of humanity that forced itself into my memory, akin to branding iron or an inked needle. The constant reduction our mind imparts suddenly suspended, and worry became a bubble outside my reach.
I can trace my life ever since those days, I can replicate it imaginatively as it elapses, every new-facing direction becomes a transition of colours. I am suddenly a motion-picture of myself, constantly distilling moments that have passed and synthesising their essence into different shapes. I become the artist, shifting through lenses, walking along worlds, gatekeeping those illusions, creating realities that can bend beyond those ships, sailing and wrecking.
My realities and memories collapse into one fused singularity—which I call a composition—my emotions and beliefs hover from the silence between syllables—which I call a poem.

 


JOHNNY

TRUE-ULTRA

Today, I e-published my first title and a wave of terror washed over me.
I do not feel quite ready for it. I’m an admirer of so many, and I don’t feel worthy of having people purchase my book just yet. It’s just not something I feel okay with, due to my inexperience and general inadequacy.

Still, I feel like I’ve created something special in this humble manuscript. Something worth reading, but not necessarily commercialising.

As such, I will un-publish the book and open it to reading in this post, in PDF format, free-for-all. I will, however, also provide a donate button bellow, may you decide I’m worthy of such honour and trust (you decide the amount). What I receive will be used for the purposes previously mentioned – maintaining the website and eventually, a groovy poetry-chilling podcast.

Thank you,
and sorry.


True Ultra – The Book


Donate with PayPal

Styx (revised)

As a lot of content is getting shaved from the book of Selected Poetry, most of my author notes are getting removed and replaced with prose. Hours of wasted work, but no matter, that’s how these things go. I will post some of those I feel worse about deleting, so they won’t dissipate into the void.


Styx 1Styx 2Styx 3


Sorry for the huge resolution, comes straight from book format.

JOHNNY

Sudden drought of content.

Salut,
I shall take to absent form over the next two weeks, but fear not, it is for a special reason.
In order to lighten the strain of maintaining the website, as well as perhaps purchase a microphone in order to start reading my compositions (and other poets’ works, so maybe a podcast) to you, I’ve decided to use my two-week work vacation – no, not to rest – but instead, to produce a manuscript with my best poems, a selection of sorts. Some will be new, some will be edited, and all will be accompanied individually with prose that explains the process of their making, similar prose to the one you see me publish here from time to time.

I plan to publish it as an eBook, and although I’m unsure of the amount of pages, they will likely surpass two-hundred, and I intend to make the eBook as cheap as virtually possible.

Along with a cover made by a designer and dear friend, and a lot of new content there, I hold hopes that at least someone will consider the purchase.

So, worry not! I will not vanish, I will just hide and then return with a modestly sized bang!

Edit: I also overhauled my Index Page, in order to make it easier to navigate through my previous content.

(in the meanwhile, Portugal is undergoing a huge heatwave with temperatures reaching the 46Cº – or 114 degrees in American – which is making life slightly painful and progress also slightly hindered)

I love you all,
Johnny.

street lights and reeds. (english poetry)

street lights and reeds.


Author’s Notes:

This one is very sloppy structure-wise, but I’m living this thirties fantasy right now and I really felt like writing some stuff related to that, not sure why. But it makes me really happy!

The entire poem has references to Al Bowlly.

Thank you so much for reading,

JOHNNY

A “book” excerpt on hope.

A little while back (I seem to start all my posts with this phrase), I started writing a book of actual fiction, as in, not poetry, called Brass Towers. With less and less time on my hands, and still trying to finish the various projects of poetry I have ongoing, this one got a bit lost, but I still have some hope it might see light of day. Here goes a rough-cut excerpt that I like, considering I don’t have nearly as much experience with prose as I do with poetry:


 

(A reminder, this is a character in the work, and not actually me writing about myself, although… it’s probably both)

As I lay my head against the bed-frame, I hope for better days. Some hope for those, others hope for better nights, and along those plaguing and exhausting hours of sleepless thought: we hope. As human misery goes, we hate hoping as much as we require it, since it fuels our glimpses of those better days, because hoping is somehow less painful than anything else we could be doing. We hope for days when we won’t need to hope anymore, in that sickly irony of circular thought, and those better days have knocked our wooden doors thousands of times over, banged, even. They scream to be claimed, but we are busy at the moment, we are busy hoping that they will come. We are addicted to hope, and in such woven spheres of contemplation, even knowing how much hope can hurt and how much misery it can bring, we keep hoping… for days that aren’t as miserable, for days that never come.

If only, perhaps, the sciences of the mind or arts of the psyche could provide a more easing method of withstanding life and its barrage of variables, we could stop the cycle of hope, and we could once-and-for-all close that wretched box Pandora opened so long ago, or even erase our understanding of human inadequacies and undo Eve’s apple eating habit. But closing a box or un-eating an apple are far too mundane to syphon our hope, no, they are insufficient. We yearn tragedy, great loves tossed into the claws of cruel oceans, even greater minds felled by their own ambitions, high spiritual connections with concepts that have far evaded our reductive minds, all grandeur, all splendour and garish displays of agony, because we already have hope to give and sell, but a fictional character only translates fully into our reality when it becomes hopeless, because hopelessness takes the highest courage, and because it is the most tangible thing we could never be.

With my head still laid upon the bed-frame, I look back: my childish years, filled to the brim with hope hidden between rays of sunlight, I hoped pine cones would fall so I could harvest the seeds and eat them, I hoped my words could convince Felicity to join me into the endless quest of fantasy awaiting beyond those pines. My adolescence, stacked with confusion and hopes for lesser confusion, a deep yearn for better days in adulthood, those that we produce, direct and act inside our minds, running so smoothly and beautifully, with liberty as the soundtrack and hope… always there, writing the screenplay. Now, an adult, nothing runs as smoothly as I’d hoped, Felicity never joined me behind those pines of magical wonder, she instead moved to Delaware. And as fate would have it, the pine cones were barren and seedless. I still hope for all the same themes under different guises, all a match of semantics duelling within ones mind. Felicity was my hope of love, which I never felt; pine cones were my hope for luck, which I never had; and life beyond the pines was my hope to escape, which I never did.
I still hope for all those things, all those days, as much as I miss them, and between missing hope as it was and hoping for it to cease, there is little of me left, and even that little me seems to be annoyingly hopeful.


JOHNNY

Gratitude.

The most common element throughout my time posting here, a little more than four months now, is most likely my lack of confidence into the craft I’m presenting for you to read. Although having such tender readers as you is a soothing march towards a path of more determined writing, I cannot help but to distill what is perhaps the only good spawn of this plaguing inadequacy: my unending gratitude, the joyous smiles whenever someone comments such warm and embracing notes to my compositions, those to which I give such little worth, those that you see something in, sometimes I’m tearful just thinking of it.
Writing since such young age, I’ve only been compelled to share very recently, mostly out of fear and self-preservation, but this journey of sharing has been no less than magical, almost out of a book. I have long ways to go in my abilities and considerations, as well as my Art, which I plan to refine until the skin of my fingers is all but spent, but both readers and fellow poets here on WordPress have gifted me with a tenacity I could never verse, and my short time here has a been a poem in and of itself. One of those Wilde spoke of, poems that are lived and not written, poetry and humility.
Together, we are giving new colours to a craft that seems increasingly forgotten, and this Art that spans millenniums lives, breathes and laughs within our hearts, we are the oxygen that fuels its flames and the salt of its waves. To think that I’ve actually touched people in meaningful ways with the sharing of my primitive and young compositions, already brings tears to my eyes, and makes every ounce of my brimming shyness seem so minimal compared to that unbridled joy.
I’ve always been skeptical of over-the-head love, but I truly love everyone who has encouraged me and left the sweetest messages. When I reply that it means the world to me, I mean it with every second of my breath. It means the world, and I love you, because my gratitude couldn’t be grander, because I’m just a kid that writes and you have the patience to read, and that means more than a thousand poems could ever convey, because it means the world, and I hope to only grow more grateful.

Thank you, truly,
Johnny.

dogwood and yarn. (english poetry)

dogwood and yarn 2


Author’s Notes:

The structure of the composition was severely inspired by Jack Leonard’s song “All the Things you Are“, a beautiful song that was a hit during the 1930s in America.

I finally found a practical and pleasing way to put whole compositions into a single image, took me long enough. I’m not very technologically savvy.

This is another free-hander. I haven’t had much time to sit down and actually compose, so I mostly scribble into my notepad throughout the day and I get these results. At least, I hope they aren’t too bad. And thank you for reading, I don’t often thank people who read and do not comment, and it’s not on purpose, I’m just forgetful. Regardless, thank you so much for following the unglamorous journey of a dreamy kid writing poems.


JOHNNY