I’m running out of ink a bit. This poem was initially designed to be part of greater work along with two other large poems that I will release over the next weeks. However and upon council with a dear literati, I decided not to have them all under one title and to instead put them here individually. (notes on the creative corpse) is, visually and stylistically, my most advanced composition yet, and I quite like how it is designed and the sentiments that informed it, so I hope you like it as well.
I also spent some of my Saturday producing this recommendation page in order to promote many WordPress creators that I feel as deeply important for my journey on this website. Be sure to pay it — and them — a visit, and I promise you with all my force that you won’t be disappointed.
Concurrently, I’ve included a donation button in my About because I’ve been noticing some folks searching Amazon in my blog. I, sadly, do not have any publications currently being sold, nor do I preview to have any anytime soon. If you’d still like to support the blog and, concomitantly, my works, you are welcome to donate. (I’d also prefer to sell a book, but my poems are not yet at the point of being worth actual money, or, I wouldn’t pay for them)
Sorry for the maundering, have a nice weekend!, João-Maria
The word, defining, muzzles; the drawn line Ousts mistier peers and thrives, murderous, In establishments which imagined lines
Can only haunt. Sturdy as potatoes, Stones, without conscience, word and line endure, Given an inch. Not that they’re gross (although
Afterthought often would have them alter To delicacy, to poise) but that they Shortchange me continuously: whether
More or other, they still dissatisfy. Unpoemed, unpictured, the potato Bunches its knobby browns on a vastly Superior page; the blunt stone also.
Sylvia Plath, Poems, Potatoes.
I’ve always been prone to early awakenings. As a child, I’d rise before anyone in my home and thread, slowly, like a liquid shadow, the thin corridor that stood between my room and the stairs, both at the antipodes of the house. The white air of dawn was flayed by a series of twisted lines, reminiscent of brambles, cast by delicate fiddlehead designs that adorned the curtains of the upper floor, and their innocent interruption of sunlight would paint the rightmost wall with the outline of a dark tree. Walking through it, I’m suddenly reminded, felt dimly somber, as I figured that in each morning, the tree asked me if I remembered tomorrow. «No.», I would offer, «Not tomorrow», quite insincerely. As the frigid lacquer of the pine steps innervated my feet, I made an unmatched effort to deposit my weight on my wrists, almost levitating, as to not trigger the stridulation of the wood, that little ravenous instrument, and if not for my glaringly audible breathing, I could pass for a bit of wind. This was my preferred method of traveling — in hyalescence.
When at the door, I would sit for a few hours in the front step of my home, where I had recently opened my forehead and where I’d soon do so once more, and perhaps that very place signals some dislodging that I can’t quite shake, as whenever I pass, now, through the front of that assembly of memories that houses another family for nearly a decade now, I can’t help but feel a glassy sentiment of unphasing that I’ve only ever felt by visiting my father at the cemetery. There, everything feels to drain and deaden, and sitting on that marble step, I recall what I now find to be an entirely manufactured memory, likely produced from years of spending entire mornings in some cogitative realm that isn’t this, looking at my mothers dahlias or a large palm stump that I always resented for being too high for me to sit upon. I remember a girl, braided features and withdrawn face that was seemingly under some degree of shade at all times, and her eyes were two dissolving oceans that overspilled over a blank aura, and her hands were rayed and slightly pellucid, and I remember that she caused in me some deep distress, but I was beckoned, as if fear was, then, an unusable tool. She would sit over the sill of the window to my left, her bumblebee t-shirt had this strange image of a coiling forest, distorted from a central point, and with one leg damming the slab of light that would enter the home through the bottom of blinds, which were always left slightly relaxed, and another leg pendulous over the wall, with a subtlety of movement and leggings of a torrid yellow contrasted with white triangular damasks, she would, under certain angles, appear like an enlarged salamanquesa. I don’t recall our conversations, but figments of them, these sparse echoes and elisions; she’d often complain about her father, how mean he was, but not to her, she didn’t exist to him. Her eyes surfed through myriad slides of pain, but they could never find themselves stuck in a purpose, a form, a line that would restrict the sequestering motion of feeling; that’s just it, she darted through a film of her trauma, and in each frame sprawled a condensed figure which sourced it, but she only felt motion sickness, or just sickness, or just that stunning and infinitely involute reality of being unwanted. I wouldn’t say anything to her; well, she didn’t exist. But I remember that, by the end of each conversation — which elapsed whenever the air goldened — if I remembered tomorrow, that desultory question which haunts the asker and the askee, and before I could answer, the spume of her eyed-oceans would seethe, producing a strident gurgling alike water meeting a barrier of smooth cinders, and she would vanish.
I see signs of her tattooed over each of my memories in that house. The kitchen, that was added by a renovation shortly before my birth, since the home did not have one when my parents first bought it, was done so in an odd angle that, like some useless flap of fabric, squeezed every centimetre of space right until the neighbouring building, and in doing so, was shaped like a half-opened fan, and had a large space at the top which my mother filled with a cobalt-hued couch filled with arabic symbols in that torrid yellow that remind me of her. Also, lodged under the stairs, a cabinet would, in an ordered chaos, be the accommodation for dozens of albums and home-videos, many of which were videos of the sea and its undulation, which my father enjoyed to capture in every beach he went to. I’d sit and watch them attentively, waiting for a moment that wouldn’t come, hoping for a moment nowhere to be found with each wave, each simmer. The lines of the cassette would travel, vertically, along the dense lenticular screen of our TV, seeming to be combing the image for a meaning, and always arriving empy-handed. The times in which I would flee from the eldritch entities my mind would conjure from my days of solitude; just flee, without much thought to the matter, into the lemon orchard that backed the house, and look back to see it wither over the visual space, lose the war of colour, drown in distance, and smile, simply and purely, because for a moment it no longer existed. The times in which I’d just sit, alone, attentive to the spume. It didn’t take me long to understand the rest the memory I had fabricated, and how much it seems to shorten the act of remembering my infancy.
I remember, vividly and uncreatively, sitting over the thick membrane of dead leaves in the orchard, unbothered with the sound they made at the fullness of my weight, and in the sober madness of being both lost and alone, whispering to myself, do I remember tomorrow? «No,» I would offer, «but I must want to.»
More fragmentary poems, thought these are slightly less inspired. I spent the week studying Portuguese literature and my mental linguistics are entirely dissonant. I currently have a small obsession with the composer Eric Nathan and his recently released album “the space of a door”, and have been studiously perscrutating the work of Miró for the purposes of aesthetic sharpening, so that is likely to be the next poetic pairing that I’ll produce. Meanwhile, I’m determined to the writing of these paltry poems (tentatively) everyday, and placing them here from while to while. I’ve read somewhere that it is important for a creative to be so everyday, as to not lose touch with the creative sensibilities. I’m unsure if that is true, but I’m giving it a try.
I had my hyper-productive cycle, and now, as is visible, my ability to conjure poems is waning a bit. I’m still committed to writing and showcasing, perhaps more than ever, because I feel that exposition helps me not only calibrate my productions, but in having a veritable self-responsibility to creating, even when I’m wringing about.
This composition was, as all of my poems of this new (empyrean) cycle seemingly are, about otherness. It does not have 57 parts, but it’s instead catalogued in a diarial document, the same one where I extracted “poetry without a place”. It is diarial because I did write it very quickly (shy of sixty minutes), and it received very little editing, mostly because I like the urgent, immanent aspect of the last part, and not only is that rawness hard to replicate, it is near-impossible to “align” if the rest of poem is overworked by editing sessions. I was inspired, in regards to the subtle narrative, by a plastic gunboat that I actually did lose in an acequia when I was little, near the farm of the man that raised me, which I lost in the same year as I lost the gunboat.
In regards to image, symbol, and the mental geometry, I was lightly inspired by Heidegger, though I won’t say how! Visually, and especially in the last part of the poem, I drew from a magnificent photography capture by Phil Gomm, named The Scrying Mirror. At the time, I was already enraptured by his project, but what the sentiment exurged within wasn’t quite apparent until I wrote the composition. (thanks, Phil!)
As always, I hope you found something worth the while, I’m never quite sure,
thank you, João-Maria.
At the precise moment in which the irreducible tongue of the sun recoiled and became an irregular line trodden by the tremulant eucalyptus leaves, Jorge Guerra first felt the dense phenomenon of solitude so characteristic of birth. His father, António Medes Guerra, was a reputed dipsomaniac of jagged features, of which his black beard was most characteristic, as it felt strangely luminous and always sodden. His drunken paroxysms were so persistent, he saw his position as a bricklayer in the construction of the train-station of Vale do Peso quickly foreshortened.
In fact, just that very night, António is said to have borrowed a Browning shotgun from a cousin, crouched behind some brambles near a hillock by the village entry, awaited until that very tongue of sunlight was besprent upon the hills, and charged at his foreman, José Lobo Branco, in an attempt to intimidate him into the restoration of his job. António, however, did not learn to operate the firearm, and José struck him with a skiving shovel, for which he had to be hospitalised, in a room curiously near to that where his son was just born, although, almost seemingly by some divine order, they did not meet each-other that night.
His mother, Christina Guerra, was of Galician origin, and although she moved to Castelo de Vide at an early age, she knew enough of the mossy pathways of Santiago to feel morriña, the most Galician sentiment of all, which only intensified whenever António would come home, choleric and crapulous, a vile monument of her profound weakness, a vile monument of her profound strength. Jorge, too, would often be beaten by the casuistry of his mere existence, since the anger of António was a dark puddle without perceptible depth; a trap designed to never be evaded. Luckily for Christina and Jorge, however, António died of tuberculosis just shy of two weeks after Jorge celebrated — under the lashing belt — his fifth birthday. His death lunged them both into a state of indigence not too unlike that which they had lived thus far, but, to them, it still felt like an unimaginable relief.
Jorge’s luck, and, concomitantly, his salvation, was Christina’s second marriage: Ernesto da Gama, a literate tradesman from Penacova who, besides abounding in benevolence, had an unabated love for his adopted son and insisted unstintingly on his education. Ernesto was also instrumental in introducing Jorge to a litany of ultra-romantic poets, the likes of Soares de Passos, João de Deus and Garret; and nothing enraptured his thoughts quite as feverishly as poetry. Jorge, by 1916, was successfully formed in the basic faculties and was allowed the opportunity of further formation in the University of Coimbra, in the fields of Law, which, at the time, was the only course with veritable applications outside of Academia; but the pylons of his passions, what moved him beyond his blue, bruised core, was the sprawling and lucid poetry that spawned at his lips and blossomed at the very borders of his cognition; what provided his spiritual existence was his sharp, bucolic soul, sprouted from cycles of tears and condensation, and culled by that jittering blade of sunlight which withdrew when he come-to-be.
In the dawn of 18 of August of 1919, Ernesto was caught in a blaze of massive proportions near Sintra, while returning from an excursion to Lisbon. Though his calcined remains were never returned to Penacova, Jorge insisted on the search; to such purpose, he voyaged to Lisbon the next week, with the intention of only a small interregnum in his studies. Still quite hoverish, as if held by a tight thread, which is common of those whose pain failed to materialise fully and is still but a shade darting below the pond, he was entirely oblivious of the fact that he’d never return to Coimbra, nor would he spend much in search of Ernesto’s cadaver, since Christina, now entirely sclerotic and paralysed in a bout of deep depressions, found it beyond her will to even drink a cup of water on her own. It was then, during the large stretch of years in which he took to her bedside, that he produced «Condolência», the prime and lone book of his authorship.
«Condolência», produced over nearly two decades, seems to cover, in its essence, only two discernible cycles of Guerra’s poetic production: an early, plaintive and ruminating, gleaming with substance and sentimental contamination, named Geminea, and a later, lighter cycle punctured with a levitous, ponderative and pastoral demeanor, named Botania. Their transition of one onto the other, after careful geometries and chronometries were established, seems to have been spun from the event of the departure of his mother to Galicia, a desire she could never quite shake after her recovery from prolonged cataplexy. Jorge accompanied his mother for a short while, in her village of Taboada, near the magnificent natural wonder of Castro Candaz; in this mythical castle, whose sub-aquatic habitation only allowed it a glimpse of breath whenever the rainfall diminished for long enough, Jorge saw himself reflected. He felt as if life never gave him enough dry periods in order for his deserved flourishing. During these months in Galicia, he wrote some of his most impressed bucolic pieces.
In 1921, Christina passed away from a fulminant breast cancer that had annihilated her in the shorter tail of three months and about which little was known at the time, and Jorge, now wholesomely and inexorably alone, decided to return to Vale do Peso. By then, he weighed so little, it felt as if he was a waning vessel, a foundered boat. His phlegmatic disposition, now coupled with his physical macilency, far transgressed any sense of emotive numbness; he simply had no more of himself in this realm, he felt as if objects could not contain the poverty of his sight; furthermore, they were negated by it. He was a walking, consuming force, a space being reclaimed from within, long tired of its own unworthy, fruitless occupation. For a good count of three hours, he sat and looked at the steams fume and flit, one here, one there, in the train-station that brought about the fateful night of his making. For a while, he wondered how many different tones of self-enamouration he could count; how many of them were destructive; how many of them only came about when it truly rained as never before, an authentic deluge of being, of nothingness. For a while, he pondered on the inevitable, before realising that such, when it matters, is nearly always the case, nearly always inevitable.
Jorge’s book was never published.
Disclaimer: Jorge is, of course, entirely fictive, as is apparent. Why I felt compelled to generate an entire mini-fiction regarding a mysteriously unfortunate Portuguese poet from the beginning of the 20th century is as beyond me as it is beyond you. I’m not in a deep state of sanity, these days. Regardless of any particular intention, I found the small path of Jorge quite interesting, and I regard him as an example of what might have happened to many, invariably, since the story is itself composed of some reality. The locations are real; so are the poets accited, the dates and events (including the fire in Sintra), and many elements were inspired by stories I’m privy to. I was also heavily inspired to do this from recently having read Sebald’s “The Emigrants”, though I differ greatly from his (invariably superior) approach.
I hope you liked the read, though since I tend not to post fiction, you might have not, and I’m sorry if you haven’t!, a glorious weekend to you all, João-Maria.
Francisco de Goya is, along with very few, a veritable re-inventor of visual arts. His descent into depression, magisterially tabulated by his paintings, stands as the most embossed, limpid and surviving documentation of creative mania and artistic pessimism. One needn’t go further than drawings such as El Agarrotado and El Sueño de la razon produce monstruos to realise how acutely stricken he was with his own demons, and one would need to go as far as La romería de San Isidro in order to understand that his demons were not merely of the inner kind. Goya’s progression from an orderly, august form of painting that was most apposite for the Romantics of his time, to a deeper, astringent use of colour and blurred strokes, which annealed the asperity of the thoughts that informed his paintings, is one such progression that is of interest and should be studied by any creative with manic challenges, such as myself. It also much mirrors the path of his compatriot, Picasso; while Goya descended into a more agonic expressionism, Picasso went into six different styles over a series of collections.
Giant Seated in a Landscape – 1818
Although Saturn Devouring His Son is one of my favoured paintings of his (since the symbolic interpretations are nearly boundless), I did not write a specific composition on this painting; in fact, I’m still trying to gather forces in order to write a long, contextual and cybertextual composition on Goya’s work, likely divided into multiple parts. Goya’s obsession with giants, however, reminded me of an old composition I wrote and never put up on the blog (although its destination was, initially, the blog). Part of the BEACONS poems, it was written with the partial, synthetic perspective of a child, looking at “giant things”.
Albeit from mid-2019, thus, a bit overly aged, it somewhat maintains my general style of writing, while the same cannot be said by anything earlier than that. It was, I think, perhaps the first composition I made with the style I have now. I hope to have more compositions made apropos Goya in future, since he is, without a semblance of doubt, one of the painters that most deeply inspire me.
There are few instances of expression more lambent than looking at George Inness’s “Roman Campagna” while listening to Henryk Górecki’s plangent “Wislo Moja, Wislo Szara“, since, to me, both works transubstantiate the tortuous aspects of time into a pleasant, warm resignation; they remind me that so much of war is only heat.
It’s partially unknown to me why the works of George Inness are to me translations of senescence and that brightness of dissolution and anility; it is, perhaps, his usage of colour, which is so jocosely gradiented between the syncopal nature of his skies and the very-nearly-vividness of his objects. Inness is, in a real sense, so nimble and lightsome in how he mirrors the views being recreated, that his trust is entirely placed upon the plates of those eons that compose our ever-reclaiming natural world; the overflowing and billowing natural history that, in its incontestable wisdom, gives us the solidity of life and the fluidity of dying. No love quite equals that which this world has for us; no blindness can puncture that reality, try as it may, and as it so often does, nowadays.
The poem itself is bit shorter and less dense than usual; I’m trying to loosen a bit, if only for this Summer.
My family is in the habitude of telling me how odd I was a child, since I’m similarly odd as an adult. It never quite dawned on me until I looked at pictures from my childhood. I’m having copies made, but it would be nice if some of them existed on the web, as relics of the 2000s; such a nostalgic era.
My parents have over twenty-five thousand pictures from the 90s and 2000s, along with twenty hours of film. It’s daunting to sieve through it all, especially when it carries so many dormant memories. I did pay a plaintive price for my strangeness, later on, but I can confidently say that I wouldn’t trade it for much, since now, my strangeness is my charm.
(CALIATH) features, and has always featured, a style of importation and eclosion that isn’t encountered commonly. Not only does my own personal style of composing include the immaturity of my creative endeavors and the many cultural and linguistic importations spurred from the fact that I’m not native in English, it also contains a seemingly heavy modern literary legacy, the likes of John Ashbery and David Antin, thus, the postmodernists, with most pronounced inflections in poems such as (to taste of salt) and (the whole spring), and the often overlapping movement of the surrealists, especially with Baudelaire and Reverdy, both monumental influences in my poetic style. Many reputed poets of the Portuguese pantheon also perfuse my poems with the inspiring whiff of their brilliance (which I admire deeply and am a disciple of), and those are Al Berto, Cesariny de Vasconcelos, Luís Quintais, Drummond de Andrade and Lispector. Along such myriad influences, some of them marked by gashes of dissonance and complexity, one would likely look at one of my poems and detect but a bunch of titivating words thrown at a wall with little but the associative sense they may individually carry, in which case, we’re left with more density than artistry, and therein lies the issue in trying to translate my personal style into something veritably transmissible; I’m not — clearly — the best of writers; but there is somewhat of a rhyme or reason to how I construct a poem, and to provide some pharos of what that is, I will deconstruct a deconstructive poem apropos poetry (try saying that aloud):
Strophe 1 opens with an oneiric appeal, which sets the tone of reversion; whereas one would start in an instance of reality and slowly disintegrate into a fragmented, unsubstantial inner realm, I decided to start in the dream and walk back into materiality. A “tiger gnawing statues” was inspired by “Leaves“, composed by Nicholas Jaar, a song in which he synthesizes a recording of an interaction with his own father, when he was little, where he said that “los leones estaban mordiendo la estatua” or, the lions were biting the statue. This geometry of conjuring an image of my own from Jaar’s occurs in the poetic nature that I distilled from his work: the absurd quality of the imagination, which, often, founds the medulla of our creative emprises, because that absurdity is free-formed, fluid, insofar as it dissolves time to a symbol (time is a false flower) and destruction to opportunity (rubble could not dim his sharp taste for hunger). The poet, or creator, in this instance, is the extinction of the absurd, as our cognition functions only in pattern-seeking modes, which lugubriously counters the creation of new ones. I often feel that my cognitive limitations not only disallow me of novel creativity, but give a whim of repulse to my creations, a taunt of sorts.
Strophe 2 is the part most inspired by Albert Tarantola, a popular user of the inverse problem, by which the composition was designed (at least, as the concept of inversion); this strophe, then, is almost entirely expositive, except perhaps in its construction, which I call “cruel denotation”, as it contrasts vividly to the denser, diaphanous lines which compose the armature of my poems. The same idea explained three times in three slightly different modes gives some sort of openness to what is being said, or ameliorates the dullness of transmitting techniques in a creative setting, (or, at least, I think it does).
Strophe 3 relies on various inspirations; not only in my own mytho-poeticism, but in that I inherited with my linguistic legacy, and such example is the “pampered child jabbing a hill swallow eyrie” to describe the most difficult qualities of language: relativity and potency. Child as an element of cognition and language is something that has various sources, from Woolf’s Bernard, who coalesced both the pellucid and fluttering qualities of language and imagination but with such puerile vigour, and Eugénio de Andrade’s Palavras Interditas, where a “child flits by, back turned to the sea“, as that aspect of unfocused, volatile subversion that we experience with any modality of communication. Language, then, and specially the poetic language, “muddles everything” with lies of colour, texture, intimacy, experience, volition and perdition, since none of those things can be fully contained within language, and that dissonance between talking about thing and experiencing thing, especially for one that uses written arts as such expressive instruments of being, is a deep wound. Thus, this strophe means to support language as the prevarication of poetry, at least in the context of the poem.
“what I feel is this brand of tasteless deicide. This falsity;” is likely the most poetically charged phrase in the entire poem, and likely the very heart and artery of it; to wholly “carve out” a personal neuro-linguistic approach that, while inching better towards absolute communication (thus, divine, at least in the parity of concepts), one inches further away from the very purpose of communication: to be understood. This is precisely the emotion that informs this post; if I read one of my poems, I’m reading the diamond-cut, punctilious image of one of my sentiments; but, as Terry put it in another poem, to a reader, it seems as if it is a “conversation one is not privy to”, which is a sentiment I entirely understand, for I have felt it myself reading some other heavily neuro-symbolical poems. That bargain, that equilibrium of abnegation and abnegation, of the divinity of sincerity and the divinity of communion, seems, at times, to be the murder of a false god in order to replace it with another, since I will never be able to express fully, nor will I ever be understood fully; they are both synthetic images for the purpose of direction, but not points of arrival.
Strophe 5, which follows, is opposite in purpose to Strophe 2, and I call it “a kind of connotation”; it is meant to refract and coalesce some of the heavier poetic concepts in the construct; if one disintegrates and distends language in order to heighten its ability to transmit, one begins to lose grip of linguistically-dependent structures “a residue of existence being dragged across abandoned layouts”, and that sacrifice seems most excessive once we realise the mania of surrealism and concept-melding, insofar as we become “a residue of language dangling somewhere one ought not to touch for fear of capture”, or, in a way, a senseless, formless and mad thing, whose inner motions can only be understood by that same frequency of madness.
Strophe 6 purports to tether everything together; and purports truly is the apt word. One reaches, then, the “exotic doldrum”, which is tantamount to saying: “an individual, untranslatable state of bafflement”, where child (language) and swallow (expression) fuse; where language, in its fullness, is incorruptible by interpretation and thought isn’t merely another form of isolation, and then, full and wholly accessible, in that outsideness and openness so characteristic of the expressive self, lies what is discovered only through importance: connectivity, interaction, which, to me, is poetry.
I’m not the fondest of explaining a creative work; unless, of course, it’s not the artist explaining it. But I’m not an artist in a classical sense; I’m not published nor am I seeking publication, and do not charge nor intend to charge, and from such constrictions also come other freedoms, one of which is the formlessness of growth. As I’ve dedicated more and more time to my prosaic techniques (for the purposes of lucubrating on long narratives), my poetry has become increasingly more affected and condensed. You’ve all been astonishingly kind and patient with me, but I understand that my poems are not of easy digestion, or, I would dare to say, of worthy digestion. They are too often pressures of form and, even then, they are not rich in form, either. The only thing I have of any positive force is a very fertile sensorium that allows unique perspectives and images to infuse my compositions. Other than that, I’m not particularly talented nor intelligent, even if it might seem to be the case (and I don’t even think it seems to be the case, haha).
The purpose of this post is, firstly, to demonstrate that there is a “skeleton” behind all my works, even if it’s not a sound skeleton, or one made of visible, intact bones; secondly, it was to clarify some of the references and influences, the “plaques” slowly moving beneath the communicative foundation; both what founts the still-green way I write, and what contaminates it. And, of course, just because I intended all of this to be in the poem, or, better yet, just because all of this coalesced and whirled strongly enough to generate a poem, does not mean that the poem is well-written; it most certainly isn’t. As goes the old adage, the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
Thank you for reading, and for your patience, João-Maria.
// turifumy is the divination by smoke;
// umbromancy is the divination by shade;
// metagnomy is the divination by magic.
If you’re a spiritual person, I very much envy you. I’ve had a conturbed relationship with spirituality ever since I was a child, and even my poetry, at least normally, shelters itself from meddling with that aspect of life. Regardless, the composition intends no harm whatsoever; it’s merely an exploration of (part) of the issue, which, in my view, is the abnegation of a formative perspective of the world. To kill ourselves as the gods of our world and replace ourselves with carcasses of gods that do not inhabit our world, as a buddy of mine once said. If you have a stellar relationship with spirituality, seriously, please, leave me some advice.
(And Paul, I’m aware, it’s even worse, an authentic mess; last one, I promise)
I don’t talk much about poetry (the theme) anymore, and I’ve always found it difficulty answering questions such as “what is poetry to you?” and “what is your relationship with poetry?”, (not that I get deluges of questions, I certainly do not). Some days ago, I was reading about Albert Tarantola, and I thought, why not view it through the perspective of an inverse problem? That is the origin of this (quite) simple composition, thank you for reading, João-Maria.
Father scuffled with the taste of saltpetre still sticking unstintingly to his tongue, and the lustre of a candle which, already nearly drowned by its own wax, sobbed intermittently, enervating his eyes. Here, an horizon. There, an horizon; tessellating the sides of a glass as the canary-green flood subsided, in altisonant tongues of water slapping the hull, in the two very-white blocks of light bounced from each iris — those transient lovers becoming one united streak whenever the source was richest — and seemingly everywhere: an horizon, wide as widest be, grand as grandest they come, and if I were to stop, then, centred in such a massive mouth of sky and water, and closed my eyes and braced to be swallowed, perhaps then, in that will-never-be-moment, as in Ammons’ Admission, I could have «broken away from the final room». Little is imaginable then, as my eyes pierced the very fabric of nothingness; reached a hidden point beyond the sea-line, and my mind, obliquitous as if dragged by a long velveteen rope, would think of «La Damoiselle élue», which was being so candidly played that night by one such neglected lounge pianist; a lounge so far enclaved at the very tip of the bow, it felt as if it fluttered atop the ocean and never grazed it, never gashed the sea with that effusive separation of bloods and bodies so characteristic of vessels as massive as that one was.
Father disliked crowds; they scrambled his brain. After years of successive neurasthenias and depressions, his thoughts trailed off celeritously, plumes of smoke to be blown one on top of another, some expired upwards or downwards, infusing another parcel or topic with a distinct scent of petrichor after a wildfire; others would be expired right ahead, one after one, each large brunt of smoke puncturing the other as they coalesced in some hallowed destructive waltz, the kind Limón would have liked. As I fluttered off, imagining which unfathomable, implacable beauty hid itself beneath a secret point in a realm with the single material of horizon, so did father, who, himself looking at his own abstract subterfuge, would express all manners of disgust at how the space of the lounge was designed; the golden-corinthian crowns which stood in precise dissonance to the garish teal wallpaper mottled with crested parsley; the disposition of the oblong seats, prussian-hued, which mooned around the room in such odd, aleatory ways. “How ugly it all is“, he repeated, “a brass foot-rest with zebrano counters!, vulgar, criminal!“, in an infinite punctuation of repulse that, as the taste of saltpetre, would cling and stack and grow until the thought just trailed off, perhaps fallen into the unwounded sea. As so, we’d spend every night in that cruise, and after he had his third canary-green spirit, he would allow me to stand, silentious, behind the pianist, studying the score. Playing The Blessed Damsel now reminds me of gold and teal, acanthus and parsley, smoke and brass; ugliness, infinitude; a cold and hungry horizon which, in the dullness of magnetism, wholly lacks any compassion.
(made in a for-fun manner; some lovecraftian mytho-poetics are great for the snap of spring; it’s not enriched with deeper meanings, or at least, not purposefully so. It’s just some unbridled imagery!)
This is wholly unintelligible and I do apologise, but I’m at a point in which trying to curate a thought ends up harming more than helping when it comes to composing. I don’t know what path to take besides continuing writing and hoping the problem sorts itself out before long.
The beach of my choosing was Rocha, which was besprent with caverns, alcoves and grottos, some due to decades of construction atop the promontories inevitably causing fall-ins, others were formations of erosion that, so careful was the fashion of their forms, one would be tempted to believe that the sea sculpted them in its own language of beauty, thronged with apocryphal patterns too pure to be seen by our eyes. Perhaps that of biggest repute was one such lonesome tower of rock that stood half within the beach, half at sea, but only whenever the tide was even in itself; at low-tide, one could crawl within the rock and, once inside, the waves penetrating the chamber from different points would produce thunderous sounds, all in differing pitches, giving a littoral harmony that managed to not sound either consonant or dissonant. At high-tide, whenever a large wave struck the top of the dome, half of it would be devoured by that rocky mouth and spat out with the force of a roar from Neptune himself, which would awaken many men given to sleeping in their towels with a sharp, electric punch, stunning them into the chorus of loud laughter made around them. The beach itself, spanning many kilometres in length, was divided down its centre by a large rocky indentation from which it received its name, (Rocha – Rock), and the similar tide-play was at hand whenever crossing such rocky obstacle was necessary. At low, the very tip of the formation had a large arch that drooped, as if melting under a column of icy sunlight cast upon the sand, which could be crossed in a fragment of instant, and most would do a small, almost delicate sprint, afeared that the arch was about to collapse at any second. At high, however, one would need to cross a vast man-made tunnel that punctured the formation like a trephine blade; whoever made it did so at the longest and thinnest it could be, insofar as one would only have light at the very start and very end of it, having to thread everything else in a wall of solid darkness mixed with the thick, languid maritime humidity, which would cling to the feet like large bulbs of rot and whatever else laid there, abandoned in that black subterfuge. Most folks simply rose the steps of the cliff and descended on the other side, preferring the labour of three-hundred steps in a leering heat than the accursed tunnel. Another hideout, which was perhaps my favoured, was a large rock crater fully freestanding at the eastern sandbank, wholesomelly untouched by seawater for what seemed to be eons. In order to enter the convex platform at its core (whose natural coming-to-be still eludes me, since it has no logical reason to be as it is), one would need to climb one of its sides and jump inside, which, apart from a handful of kids at the very beginning of afternoons, was nearly always emptied and shaded. Of all of these wonders-in-themselves, myriad secrets could be found, and I would often slice and rend my feet trying to reach points where I did not belong, or, even more commonly, end up wailing back into my mother’s arms so she could remove a puny shore crab that latched — with some mysterious scythian might — to one of my fingers. Teary-eyed and abashed, I’d defend my honour each time by saying that I did not wish to harm the crab, thus, I couldn’t dare to remove it. «What if it loses a pincer?» I’d argue. I knew limbs regrew rather hastily, but pincers? Who could know? And they seemed very essential to the crabs; too essential, if such thing makes any residual sense.
Although I’d often make a strong case as to why spending the day at the beach was such a sterile activity, and how fruitless it seemed to me, especially since I did not enjoy being immersed by the ocean or large swaths of folks I did not know, my mother would allow nothing else than a punctual rise at seven, a long session of sunbathing under the earnest light of dawn and only until before midday, when the Sun would gnaw instantly with its violet teeth, such was the intensity with which it glistened. Returning at four, we’d stay in the beach for as long as the day permitted, and we’d often leave when naught but the black outlines of soccer-players would dart to and fro, backed by a dying star whose blood, dim and fervent, would hue the water with deep sapphire and give the waves, now smooth and slow and entirely voluble in their subtle conclusions, a tone of pearlescent cream and the texture of undulating webs. This was my favoured time, as it seemed that the world was waning upon itself, and the vast horizontal line which bore — now completely nude and unobstructed — the clear semblance of the Gods in all their aqueous journey into divinity, adorned with their nightly caparisons and their staves of cuneated streaks of light which they would stab into the imponent, high curtain of the universe, for safekeeping until next they rose, hauled by an inimitable silence that perdured, far and always far, beyond the reach of us, mortals darting to and fro, outlines of darkness and subtle conclusions. For saying things as absurd as these from a very young age, I’d inch towards that perduring silence and, given the chance, I’d swim and sail and sink there. My parents, often worried about my saturnine disposition, would urge me to meet other children, and would go as far as to befriend their parents just so I would be forced to stay with them, but it was all as fruitless as a day at the beach. I’d flit off, into the rocky hideouts and places where loneliness was a glorious rocky crown fallen atop my head; where, bathed not in a sea or in a swath, but in the grounding company of the artists which etched the shapes, melodies and points of the natural realms we inhabit, I’d be free from dream. The spray from a wave of the wispy hand loomed by the breeze are nubile spirits much kinder than those caustic ones of other children. Or so I thought, back then, while I gazed at the Gods and their shedding of multicoloured tears onto the last remaining men lining the shores, their backs to an infinite, prismatic divinity, and their fronts to a soccer ball.
Or, in my case, lonely explorers fightning the terrible iniquity of crabs, armed with nothing but mercy. Not cowardice, mercy.
Since one may not take a proper vacation this year, I thought I’d bring, through my words, my memory of the vacations I’ve taken throughout my puerile life. This is the first in a series of a few whose number entirely depends on how starkly I can remember them. I’m sorry if my prose seems a bit weaker than normal; I haven’t been feeling my fullest, and am bothered with some difficult mental demons.
I hope you enjoy this strange journey of worded vacations.
I recently joined a Portuguese e-publication where I must compose a poem weekly, and my self-proposed theme was to translate paintings that I favoured throughout my life, which, knowing myself, is a monumental task. I’m not a visual creator in the slightest, but am instead wholesomely auditive; I suffered of poor eyesight from early age, but was only treated much later, already in early adolescence. This generated an imbalance in how I most confidently translate the stimuli I receive from the world; my trust always falls, firstly, in what I hear, and not in what I see.
I’ve always been incredibly fond of visual arts, and I ache to develop a veritable visual mythology to guide my creative endeavours. This project is one such exercise I hope may help in that task, and this second composition (the first was on Munch’s Sun), even in translation, is already roughly contoured by my visual weaknesses. Hopefully, they become better as I write more of them.
Still Life with Profile of Laval has always been a painting of great intrigue to me; the deformity of Gauguin’s sculpted jug, tactically placed behind the assortment of fruits, immediately inspired the unbecoming of the latter; that is the inevitable disfigurement — the perishing — which Laval seems to gaze at in stolid anticipation. The vividness of the objects and, in contrast, the smokey dullness of every other element in the painting (including Laval himself), seemingly translates two aesthetic tempos in a single stage: there isn’t so much a dichotomy of being/not-being, but one of being/waiting-to-no-longer-be; a slow and dormant corrosion. Gauguin’s signature diagonal strokes, which I call his texture of dissipation, add the final weight to what is, in my view, a beacon of painted brilliance.
I truly hope you’re well, and thank you, João-Maria.
Little exists in record regarding Telémaco Augusto Santana. From some spotted newspaper publications regarding his work, to some handful of poultry donations made to the parish he inhabited, his name seems almost like a dent in an ancient structure; part of a gestalt of ages, another function of the uniformity of time. A texture, almost, void of essence, void of movement. Curiously, and from what I gathered, he was anything but a quiet adornment during his lifetime in Lisbon. Any perspicacious eye upon his poems would quickly detect the lavish aura he emanates as a figure of social class and probity. An authentic “flâneur“, an ogive filled with grandiose ideas and a profoundly refined inclination for the aesthetical. An indication of his zesty and obstreperous spirit can be found in the curious preface he wrote for “Lucilações“:
A Short Statement
Poetry in Portugal has no true market. The few exceptions are revered poets, and only when these are edited by publishers with a strong commercial amplitude. Most of the literate public does not read books of verse… They lightly peruse them. I decided, then, to not make this book a commercial publication. To my Friends and Critics that have accepted to appreciate my modest poetic works, I intend to offer a unique edition of this new book. And shall do it with much pleasure, since I never thought of myself as a bookshop success. Poetry is the expression of beauty through image and the highest expression of the spirit. —
The image is the medullary substance of Poetry. It is its vital essence. When Poetry achieves its maximum simplicity, it finally enters the realm of maximum beauty. Therefor–says a great Master–, the highest poet among all must be that who, without bombastic artifices nor loud resonances, still manages to impress our sentiment, thrill us, commove us, and imbue us with the fluid and luminous harmony of his verses. I know that all my poetic flights do not reach such grand and delightful heights–but, even then, as the only indelible compensation, I received the profound satisfaction of seeing my verses worthy of flattering words from demanding critics, and from notable and famous poets alike. Some of them do not know me personally, which further values their compliments.
To all who transmitted their appreciations that I deem sincere and very honouring, here I leave my deepest gratitude.
This opening text is bounteous in its richness; we, the poetic dilettantes, oft complain about the economic impracticability of our verses. Poetry, indeed, does not sell easily, nor has it ever sold easily. It’s of some strangely dim warmth to see those concerns echoed in the somewhat-distant past of 1946, a decade that saw the artistic beginnings of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, E.E. Cummings and Richard Wilbur, among myriad other illustrious poets of the modernistic 20th century. Telémaco himself enjoyed a pleasant hue of success and was both frequently vaunted by critics in publications, and respected among Lisbon’s literary circles. Beyond his concerns regarding the state of sustenance through verse, we find a lucid interpretation of poetic production during his time: simplicity, imagery, sensitivity. Although I’m not completely certain of who the great Master is, after some brainscouring, I now believe he might be referring to Alberto Caeiro, an heteronym of Fernando Pessoa that enjoyed publications from as early as 1925, and was commonly referred to as “the Master” by his other heteronyms, as well as many other poets of the same era, due to Caeiro’s sensism and connection to the simple and natural.
The only surviving remnants of Telémaco‘s life are his books; though diffuse and often of expensive collection, most of them exist in various antiquaries in Lisbon. I found “Flores da Minha Alma“(1942), “Lux Bruxoleante“(1941) and “Revérberos da Poente”(1945) all available for purchase, though all at prices a bit beyond my means. I have never found “Lucilações” available elsewhere, which is unsurprising, since it had no commercial publication of any form, unlike the other books he has produced. The word chosen as the title, however, was completely unknown to me. “Lucilar“, in an elder form of Portuguese, means “to glisten”, making “lucilações“, “glistenings”.
Coming from a post-war era that glistened with fertile poetic ground — insofar as it generated some of the most potent authors of our collective history — and, concomitantly, enjoying such a pronounced respect from literary critics and a wide breadth of relevant influences, it’s difficult to cogitate how it is that Telémaco managed to wane and be forgotten, even among our national lyrical pantheon. Upon opening the book, those doubts become nubile vapours rather quickly:
In that town the bloodthirsty Mars showed the fear that dominates most. — Satanic vision!… And everywhere mounds of corpses and birds of prey!…
Sounded the triumphant hymn of the rational beast.
Blazes danced, smiling with joyful and tragic effects, like the ideas of repulsive men that only in evil feel satisfied, unknowing of the light of Jesus’s Verb.
Rises now the hallucinating pain that in children is more feared and strong: In the smoldering, annihilated town, two small children, through death, sought to find the gods of their home.
Hand-in-hand, calling for their parents, they hopped from rubble to rubble. They were featherless eaglets that, orphaned, were afraid of everything…
–War!… Feral chess where playing we feel from blood, the inebriation!
And the Sun was already dying. Covered itself in a glittering mantle… and the orphans, in a plangent pain translating so much naive love, still clamoured, through long laments: — Oh, dear parents!… where do you lie?… and only the horror of Death replied!
With high indignation the Wind portended. With kisses of emotion gracing little angels.
— Oh false world, of eternal mystery, from a human Heaven to an earthly Hell!
If Fernandes de Sá was of difficult translation, Telémaco is tortuous at best. His Portuguese, though eloquent and highly expressive, suffers from a terrible contortion in order to establish a rhyme. This is, in fact, an issue often seen in many lyrical poets of any historical era: one cannot sacrifice fluidity for melody, since there is no melody without fluidity. Telémaco shows a puerile and sequacious tact with his own productions, whose subjects nearly always fall upon Christian mythology, verses on nobility and the pious deeds therein, and courts of love.
Telémaco was likely a man of wealth and stature; a nobleman, a cavalier of abound polish with a deep influence on the social strata of his time. The reviews I’ve read show a trend of vacuous and sycophantic praises of what he wrote, and considering he decided to include these reviews on the last pages of this privately published book, one might assume he was greatly proud of them. Even without an affirmed status, it is not inconceivable that he’d enjoy mild success during his lifetime; his poetry was, after all, congruent with the times, and was virtually riskless in form or content, which only further asseverates his apparent erosion through the tidings.
INEFFABLE DESTROYED WORLD
The soul of a good Mother is a large world all made from love and highest caring. A love so pathetic and profound there isn’t a plume that can describe it.
It is born indelible and fecund, and is a blooming field, always beautiful, even when the trembling of destiny overstays inside the kingdom of torture.
The most anguished human pain, from the martyr Mother is intensely cast, shattering the motherly heart.
In front of the death of her loved child… — Oh! what world, ineffable and destroyed and what longing from a volcano of tears!
“Reviews of «Reverberations of a Sunset»”
“From Alexandre de Matos (Most inspired poet and distinct publisher):
«From all literary species, poetry is that which most easily expressed ideas and sentiments; but prose isn’t far behind it. Well, in its small “Aerial Preface”, so lovingly filigreed, there’s proof that Telémaco even in prose is a poet. …Reading the “Symphony of the Heart”, for me the most interesting part of the book, I was able to listen and enjoy, executed in seven poetic compositions, the sonata of harmonies that pulse within his heart!»
(the other two reviews follow the exact same lines; sometimes, with the exact same expressions. There are also ten additional pages of different reviews)
“Lucilações”, although not the most augmenting of reading experiences, was a generous exercise in conception for me. I can picture Telémaco having extensive colloquies with his literary consorts, or ardently complaining about the insuperable shedding of leaves from the Chilean peppertrees that line the central avenue of Campo d’Ourique, where he most likely lived. I can picture him, a stern and stolid man, a true homme du temps, with a decorous modesty and calm spirit. I can picture him in cafés, reading his esteemed Júlio Dantas, or regional papers like “Alma Nacional” or “Ecos de Sintra“, and, more sprawling still, is the tact I can have with what he felt and how he felt it; how he distilled what he saw, the beauty of it, the sense in its beauty. I can compose how delicately he saw his spirituality, how fervently he saw his God, a distensible and glowing figure that centralised him inside a dazed and conflicted world. I can mimic the dehiscence of his smile whenever he received a warm review of his verses. I can, during moments and with much force, be an echo of Telémaco within my mind, and thus, for a brief moment, he exists once again, and may now feel the glorious pungency of the peppertree that lonesomely guards my own street.
Poetry, no matter its value or commercial viability, will never be destitute of its singular most convex purpose: to condense the spirit which orders the hand; its pain and pleasure, memory, pulse, texture, skin. It’s a print, henceforth indelible and eternal, even if just in the minds of those who’ve read it, which, as the tendrils of some immortal creature, seeds further the existence of a collective being, through Art, in Art. One last tether between us all, beyond the tiring artifices of social maintenance, of having to.
I truly hope Telémaco had a wonderful life distant from the wounds of his period on Earth; I hope, similarly, that as Telémaco, my creations might inspire someone, far in the future, to wonder how I was, how I lived. I wonder, then: what would they come up with?