emperor julian's bandana (english poetry)


I don’t always know how to write poetry; well, I do know how it is meant to be written, I just can’t say I know how to write it. Every time I write a poem, it feels like I’m learning to write poetry all over, and over, and over, stretching longitudinally like a row of trees lining an horizon, perpetually learning how to grow. Hence why, I believe, it is so difficult to publish something I’ve written; I essentially have no perception of my evolution, thus, I can’t really feel like I’ve evolved. I can objectively put a poem of mine from years ago and one that I’ve just written, and of course I prefer the latter, but merely because I am the latter presently, and I shall never again be the former nor feel it in the dimensions I felt it when it was penned.
But this is a hurdle that extends to life, at least in some ways. We can say we have evolved, but it is hard to pinpoint the whys, the hows, the morphology we had and now have seem, at times, entirely disconnected, separate autonomous beings, and sighting ourselves in retrospect can often feel like seeing something entirely eldritch, the sun that warmed us then doesn’t feel like the same sun, the waters we bathe in don’t feel like the same waters, and there is this strange sentiment, like we are perpetually learning how to grow, how to do these same things in new ways, ways that match our new beings.



(Thank you for reading me, I know I’ve been diffuse lately, but even if I’m not great at this, I always try to give the best of myself that I have, and I’m incredibly grateful that you allow me that luxury)

João-Maria

(Droplet) the waves of creation.

Virginia Woolf, July 1902. Photo by George C. Beresford.

«‘But Bernard goes on talking. Up they bubble — images. “Like a camel,” . . . “a vulture.” The camel is a vulture; the vulture a camel; for Bernard is a dangling wire, loose, but seductive. Yes, for when he talks, when he makes his foolish comparisons, a lightness comes over one. One floats, too, as if one were that bubble; one is freed; I have escaped, one feels. Even the chubby little boys (Dalton, Larpent and Baker) feel the same abandonment. They like this better than the cricket. They catch the phrases as they bubble. They let the feathery grasses tickle their noses. And then we all feel Percival lying heavy among us. His curious guffaw seems to sanction our laughter. But now he has rolled himself over in the long grass. He is, I think, chewing a stalk between his teeth. He feels bored; I too feel bored. Bernard at once perceives that we are bored. I detect a certain effort, an extravagance in his phrase, as if he said “Look!” but Percival says “No.” For he is always the first to detect insincerity; and is brutal in the extreme. The sentence tails off feebly. Yes, the appalling moment has come when Bernard’s power fails him and there is no longer any sequence and he sags and twiddles a bit of string and falls silent, gaping as if about to burst into tears. Among the tortures and devastations of life is this then — our friends are not able to finish their stories.’»

Virginia Woolf, The Waves.

Along my inclement journey with literature, towards which I’m always shackled into a sentiment of certain rain-shadow, no book entreats more envy to me than The Waves, despite not even being my most favoured book. That writing, itself suffusing in one’s mind like luminous vermillion ink thrown at the solid shadows of a nightly sea, manages to collect the summonings of a graceful elm whose leaves command delicate beams of light that lick the hairs of ancient Gods, and whose roots silhouette skeletons quivering and thrilling with allegories of forgotten heroes. I would readily give much of what I have — which isn’t much at all — if I could write with her convex descriptions and concave emotional realisms. Virginia dawned lives inside herself so ravelled and ornate, one should only feel the perpetual shame of inhabiting a world in which a soul as hers could ever meet a fate so ruthless. But I lean against my stile to find the watery-eyed posture of loss trailing my memories of her, serenely laden against her own, looking at the threaded colours diluted in the glass, conjuring the whirlpools of vivid sorrow that I and so many others readers have been entranced by, and I’m happy to fit silently into her designs. Extremely happy with the chance of doing so, at least.

In the passage above quoted, Louis catches Bernard be betrayed by his own oneirism and enchanting absurdity for the first time; this laceration is one that any wordsmith is far-too privy to, when we feel our phrases with such intensity yet they become miserable attempts at flight once they leave their tidy homes within our minds. This heartbreak is inexorable, and, as children, we are lured into it as the carps of a pond whose surface ripples with breadcrumbs; the world, as in others, as in natures, as in images, cannot resist the prestidigitation of padding our hearts full of prismatic lights only to fracture it with one stealthy strike. Percival delivered that strike to Bernard, but I do not have any literary account of who delivered that strike onto me, but rather, a series of blows along the coastal remains of my life in shape of dense black spots in a beach brimming with whiteness. They grow; they grow once remembered, once any is added, some coalesce and obscure further hideouts of my youth, some are so intimately cruel that they seethe with a purple, purulent aroma, and those I cannot ever approach, as they hold the tyranny of possibilities.

Once, at a swift nightly escapade with my friends in the dusk of Lisbon, I broke down in a self-liturgy pulled from my own sense of decay. Those friends, some actors of considerable talent, some writers containing what, to me, were the greatest possible stories, all of them liegemen to the Arts which I, due to cowardice, so vehemently denied to ever stand a chance of creating anything worthy of the inheritance those Arts so severely cast upon their creators, these friends stand both as the Atlantean pillars of my dreams and those black and grim holes of memory; constant reminders of my timid and inept attempts at existing half-formed in a world that seduced and daunted me in equal magnitudes. I broke down as Bernard did, fervently portending my own doomed reality in which my story would never be finished, but scattered among others; I was to die as a liegeman to them and not to the Arts they served; a pathetic being in a frail cocoon that I, frailest still, couldn’t shatter. And that was a task and fate that disappointed me, but did not dissatisfy me, as holding that would elevate holding nothing.

In more ways that those I’m able to count, perhaps like specks of obsidian dusk pairing above a stream, both dark and brilliant, the creation of this website allowed my continued survival. I do not write for posterity or immortality, as those things are uninteresting to me, and it does not bother me that I will be forgotten. I write, now, for interaction, my interaction with both the Art I love and with those who love it as much as I, to exist in a cordon of souls representing both aspects of Virginia’s Percival, those who receive my words as to allow them their chance of flight, their chance of surviving my despotic and cruel rule, and those who are bored by them, because those are the ones who inspire poetry.


João-Maria

seven poems of Japanese aesthetics (english poetry)

I’m always on the prowl for ambient sounds apt for concentration, quest which led me to some of the most endeared songs of my library. Recently, I came across Ensō, by Fort Nowhere, followed by my procurement of what Ensō meant, the discovery of that Japanese spiritual practice, along with Japanese aesthetics, which I explored through various sources until I came upon this article, which features a series of Japanese aesthetic principles along with an Ensō ( which completed a full circle in my quest, interestingly).
Inspired by the various principles presented in the article, I attempted to create seven compositions related to how those principles interact (although at times a bit loosely) with my own ontological views. I paired each principle with a material or substance, to have both a thematic and a cosmetic focus for each poem. They are simple, very simple poems, some plangent, some more delicate, all of them written in the same style but independent of one-another, which means you may read only the one you feel most drawn to, or read all in the hope that you might like at least one of them. They are ordered as follows:

Fukinsei, Clay;
Seijaku, Incense;
Kanso, Plastic;
Shizen, Leaf;
Datsuzoku, Skin;
Shibumi, Bristle;
Yugen, Water.


Fukinsei, clay

SEIJAKU, incense

KANSO, PLASTIC

SHIZEN, LEAF

DATSUZOKU, SKIN

SHIBUMI, BRISTLE

YUGEN, WATER

Needless to say, they are more modernistic than oriental in tonality and form, but my primary attempt was to coalesce the two in my own style. I don’t feel that I was fully successful, but I decided to heed to my most oriental principle: just to let them be. I produced them in two hours, in Portuguese, and did not edit them.
I still hope you managed to extract something valuable or, at least, be entertained.
Thank you much for reading,
João-Maria.

(Droplet) neuro-dialectics (english|português)

While tinkering with some experimental forms in a poetic manuscript in Portuguese and listening to Henosis by Joep Beving (which is a terrific album for writing), I came across his track “Noumenon“, which involves a rather minimalist piano piece, some synthetic organ elements, and the voice of a man in the background with drowned speech that can’t, at any point, be understood. With that, I was inspired to try my hand at creating two rather hollow characters who, in between compositions, would hold disjointed conversations — some more sensible than others — which, in time, spun a willingness in me to dialogue with myself recurrently, often about nothing, often about everything, sometimes in extensive monologues and others in short, sharp sentences. I’m sure this is not unique nor is it particularly exceptional, but I’m quite enjoying the folly of it, so I felt compelled to share. The first, in form of a dense poetic-prose unified speech, and the other, a banter succeeding a somewhat disenchanted love-poem:

(Varieties of Ultramarine)


— I would have enjoyed playing in the Schönhausen palace, or have exulted a body with a pungent waltz collapsing over a soundscape, an imploded building; that is it, the profligacy, extensive, sharp disgraces, to be vulgar but stricken by an extreme energy to dive into the most profound aromas. It saddens me, you know? There are things… Well; the solar cycles of flesh, various shouts and lamentations, to have seen the physical aspects of this domain perish, await the rains, observe the age of birds, the spark of sylvan wings, the solitude and silence, and… Who knows? Not quite so much. Things aren’t as they are, they are something else entirely, that and that, but never this. Do you remember being as small as a bean?, receive the pillars of light supporting the hours, scour the fabric of everything only to find image, the paltry gleam of pearls, those scarab-green silks used by elderly women to obscure their haggard neck, they almost appeared to be moving birch trees!, and those ornaments, miscellaneous objects, superfluous events, ashtrays of glass or steel, calendars, the frightful villain of night and darkness, that today, at a loss of self, appears to us as an absolute white. All these small constituents, baubles of sort, dust prisons sustaining the vice of inner occupation, of imagining this and that and hold it close, take it as ours, all these things which are only ours, as only we notice them — no longer is there space for any of this. The plangency of remembrance…, my breast constricts once certain portals are crossed, it closes, colours drop like acids, my contact with the shiver of the earth is erased, I acquire a lightness able to capture the tail-flame of meteors; a reduction to atoms and waves, conclusion, gelation, agony, I abandon touch, matter labours to restore my gravity. See, I do not say this just because of longing, but for the very nature of volition; at times, I see myself as an apocryphal text, or one of those commonplace engravings, a nearby landscape: a withy in a gradient of death, rough-stones, a partially hidden poplar, an imperious crow, an imperative sky, and I cogitate under a snooze spun from my fear of disappointing dramatism, what is the peremptory truth which blooms from this weak reality? No, I do not search for the meaning of all, or of life, nor any of those fatuous borrowing pretensions; neither am I concerned with whys, or magnetised by the spiritual abuse of philosophies. I just wanted a place, a pallid place, a home within my own self, to sit beneath a veil of dense warmth, convene with my own humble purposes, feel the lemon-skin come near, cover my eyes, ears and nose so I could say, distant from myself yet impossibly near, that this is this, that is that. I want the shelter of certainty, of solidity, that through the years configured more and more intangible. Ah!, pathetic, who, in wholesome control of their faculties, would want such thing? Volatility permeates beauty, and all is as beautiful as it is perpetual; the metronome fuels the serfdom of Men to the expressions of change, and in which form can we exist if not this one? The sunset is not a promise, the substrate is not a promise, nothing promises, nothing promises, and I’m privy to what you may think, that is the tacit worth of everything simple; I agree, I’m merely tired… It is time to play on the Schönhausen palace. It has to be time. The trees of Iðunn shan’t bear more apples for me, and I’m tired.


(lichen)

Back in my land, it is said that love is the acquisition of shadows.
— We all love in a bellicose mutism of sorts.
— A hall of mirrors as an instrument of inner torture…

Have you seen the spark of Spring, that distillation
of rays refracted in the atmosphere particles, the cough
of the peaceful mallards? That limpid green…
I thought love would be similar to that pure scenery.
— Our Springs were very short, at home. Time
was like a large iron anvil held by cambric strings,
as those one normally sees in childish cartoons.

You never had anyone, I suppose.
— I didn’t think it possible.
— The true surprise, that
which throws you into the centrifugation of clouds
with distant outcrops, fragile white daisies,
is when someone truly likes you.
— If that is how you feel.
— Do you feel it differently?
— I don’t like myself…, you see? If by chance
anyone did, it wouldn’t be someone I could have liked,
I do not trust anyone that likes who I do not like.
— I understand.
— It isn’t hard.
— Not for me.


Português

— Gostava de ter tocado no palácio de Schönhausen, de exultar um corpo numa valsa pungente quedando sobre uma construção de sons, um edifício implodido; é isso, a devassidão, vergonhas extensas e acutilantes, ser-se vulgar mas acometido duma energia extrema para mergulhar nos aromas mais profundos. Entristece-me, sabe? Há coisas… Pronto; os ciclos solares na carne, tessituras e lamentações várias, ver os materiais físicos deste domínio a colapsar, esperar pelas chuvas, observar a época dos pássaros, o rútilo das asas silvestres, da solidão e do silêncio, e… Quem sabe. Não tanto. As coisas não são como elas são, são outras e outras, aquilo e aquilo, mas nunca isto. Lembra-se de ser pequeno como um feijão?, receber os pilares de luz que sustentam as horas, perscrutar o tecido das coisas e encontrar apenas a imagem, o pequeno tilitar das pérolas, aquelas sedas verde-escaravelho que as transuentes mais velhas usavam para obscurar o pescoço gasto, chegavam a parecer grandes bétulas movediças!, e aqueles ornamentos, objectos vários, eventos supérfluos, cinzeiros de vidro ou aço, calendários, o terrível vilipêndio da noite e do escuro, que hoje, perdidos, é-nos quase como um branco absoluto. Todos estes pequenos elementos constituintes, frioleiras, prisões de pó sustentando o vício da ocupação interior, de imaginar isto e aquilo e tê-lo perto, tomá-lo por nosso, todos estes elementos só nossos, pois só nós damos conta deles — já não há espaço para nada disto. A plangência de rememorar…, o peito abstem-se quando se atravessam certos portais, fecha-se, as cores pingam como ácidos, o contacto com a tremor da terra cessa, adquirimos uma leveza que captura o fogo dos meteoros; a redução em átomos e ondas, conclusão, congelamento, agonia, parece que abandonamos o tacto, e a matéria labora para nos restaurar a gravidade. Veja, não digo isto apenas por saudade, mas a própria natureza da volição; por vezes, dou-me como um texto apócrifo, ou uma daquelas iluminuras comuns, uma paisagem próxima: ervas em gradientes de morte, pedras-toscas, um álamo parcialmente gravado, um corvo imperioso, um céu impreterível, e cogito na modorra que apenas tenho porque temo a desilusão da peça, qual será a verdade peremptória que floresce desta fraca realidade? Não, não procuro o significado das coisas, ou da vida, ou nenhuma dessas pretensões fátuas sensabor; tampouco me ocupo do porquê, nem sou magnetizado pela sevícia espiritual das filosofias; queria apenas um sítio, um espaço pálido, uma casa dentro de mim próprio, sentar-me sob um véu de calor denso, reunir-me dos meus propósitos humildes, sentir a pele de limão aproximar-se, cobrir-me os olhos, os ouvidos, o nariz, e poder dizer, longe de mim e no entanto impossivelmente perto, que isto é isto, que aquilo é aquilo. Quero o abrigo da certeza, da solidez, que ao passo dos anos se configurou mais e mais intangível. Ah!, patético, quem, em total controlo das suas faculdades, desejaria tal coisa? A volatilidade permeia a beleza, e tudo é belo por ser perpétuo, o metrómono abastesse a servidão do homem às expressões da mudança, e de que forma existir senão nessa? A poente não é uma promessa, o substrato não é uma promessa, nada promete, nada promete, e eu sei o que pensa, pensa que é esse o valor tácito das coisas mais simples; eu concordo, estou só cansado… É tempo de tocar no palácio de Schönhausen. Tem de ser tempo. As árvores de Iðunn já não me darão mais maçãs, e estou cansado.


Lá nas terras, dizia-se que amar é o exercicio de adquirir sombras.
— Todos amamos num mutismo bélico.
— Um corredor de espelhos como um instrumento de tortura interior.

Já viu o encandeamento duma Primavera, aquela destilação
dos raios refractados nas particulas da atmosfera, o tossicar
lânguido dos patos-reais? Aquele verde límpido…
Eu achei que amar seria esse cenário puro.
— As Primaveras eram muito curtas, por lá. O tempo
parecia uma bigorna de ferro segura por fios de cambraia,
como se vê nos desenhos das crianças.

Nunca teve ninguém, suponho.
— Acho que não teria sido possível.
— A verdadeira surpresa, aquela
que nos lança à centrifugação das nuvens
com aflorismos distantes, margaridas brancas,
é quando alguém gosta de nós.
— Se é isso que sente.
— Sentiu-o doutra forma?
— Não gosto de mim…, entende? Se porventura
alguém gostou, não seria alguém de quem poderia gostar,
não confio em ninguém que goste de quem eu não gosto.
— Entendo.
— Não é díficil.
— Não para mim.


Thank you,
João-Maria.

anxiety 1 (english poetry)

I could probably write as many poems of anxiety as there are poems of anxiety left to be written, or, better yet, I could likely claim that every poem I have is, at least partially, a poem of anxiety. I’ve also resigned to my dread of giving titles to compositions; unless they come naturally to me while conceiving a poem (or, in other words, before I’ve written said poem) I never feel as if my titles are adequate in approximation. So, I suppose I’ll be a titular minimalist, see if it suits me, perhaps it might.

If you, too, suffer from this ailment (which in this modern world of ours, seems inextricably woven into our fabric of being), I can’t provide a pyre or tell you that you’re not alone; you are not alone, but our caltrops of loneliness are not ones we can dodge merely equipped with the knowledge of companionship, but one we can bear the pains of by cultivating a veritable motion of hearing, of communicating individually, within and without. We are not alone in others, we are alone within ourselves; the only pyre, the only voice which is worthwhile in exiting that artificial solitude, is your own within yourself, and if it stands sincere and kind, it shall too reverberate in others, which shall return the same measure of sincerity and kindness; if not, they are undeserving of your pain, and you still hold yourself firm. This is, of course, my experience.

My communications are always open if (hopefully exempt of vaticination) those pestiferous ghosts of anxiety come to plague you. I will help as I best I can.

be evergreen,
joão-maria.

(Droplet) – al berto

the days without anyone
impish notes scrawled quickly
crumpled in our fingers

the honeysuckle was beautiful
rising through the night of forsaken residence

exact stones scented dusts
fireflies napping in the flexibility of clay
sands covered of insects bones and teeth
and the river hauling weary nights

luminous inflorescence acid moons crumbling
fissures of earth coastline cities birds
fragile paths in open flight
during the tremendous lucidity of dreaming

I’m left with halls of glass
where I drown the calcined remains of body
I open the door leading to my visage
descend the mossy steps of the yard
cross the masonry garden where I lived
the entire time before I hurried
“Days Without Anyone” – Al Berto

Landlocked mid poetic subject and poet, mid experience and body, mid reality and the act of writing, lies an indubitable reflective surface lightly swiveling as the halo of a flame.
Mário Lugarinho illustrated Al Bertobetween the poetic and the experimented, installed as a bridge — the mirror itself, recurrent metaphor in his oeuvre. Between poetry and experience, the subject, incontestable mediator between the real and the written and establishing between them the flagrant coincidence.” In a sensory blossoming of ontological experience, Al Berto carries the brutalism of existence as one does scars in one’s own body, exhibiting those elements of suffering with timid thrusts while words cannibalise their own element of sincerity. The body, in his poems, rises as a monolith of subjectivity laved in the hemorrhage of experience; it is cumbrous with sensuality, hatred, speech, infancy, shards of things-in-themselves in a scenery of mournful abandonment:

I sleep
within a disheveled body
fear encroaches the somber hall
I find a water scintillating in plaster
a scar of mossy crystals opens
porous to my touch, indicating
there shall be no forgetting or breeze
to clean the immemorial time of this home

of this simulated sleep, it left but bitter iodine
the waxed woods covered in dust
dried herbs in rain sheafs of rosemary,
jonquils, snapdragons, campions, clover
yet no escape has been restarted
my infancy remains sad where I abandoned it
nearly does not live
yet I still hear it breathing within me.

now all is different
I restart life from the emptiness
of dark days in silence
in-between skin and a beam of magnificent veins
I feel the bird of age dragging its wings

where it develops a calm lunar flight

I enumerate objects thoroughly, classifying them
by sizes and textures, by functions
I want to leave everything tidy when madness comes
from the sharpened extremity of my winged body
and my face is intruded by a shard of wing

so shall life collapse unto a sheet of paper
where verse by verse
I illuminate and wear myself out.


“Vigílias” – Al Berto

The stark provocation of image — which binds itself both cruel and ethereal in a procession of memory — is not merely symbol, but a counterpoint to denotation; the wound is palpable, as each verse widens its longitude with unstinting force where the absence of breath is not merely a quality of form but a proxy to restlessness. A frondsome garden is thus woven and hydrated in white obscurity: reality is held in a crystalline distance, writing cannot approximate it, regardless of eloquence, of thought, of philosophies, we lie in open sight and sketch an estimated geography, and, from time-to-time, an embodiment of placid light befalls our lips and we are disfigured by castrated toponymies; our place in the universal lie unfurls. Al Berto carries out his death in poem successively, both the wanting of his death and the pestilent, modern malaise of the death of wanting, inherited from a legacy of weighted dichotomies and promises–too long has the poet promised, too epic was the oneiric journey of poetics, too arduous the return. Thus, his poetry is a summon for a corpse, the buoyant corpse of his infantile yearn, the mossy corpse of his lyrical dreams, the winged corpse of his light, yet merely a corpse: the gallows of his life plaintively whistle within, and in reality lies a frigid inheritance of death. Our body, lush with herbs and snapdragons and rosemary positioned as a reflective vessel of both, a world of unbearable cruelty made of particles and waves of synthesized beauty.
There is, yet, an ethereal release from anguish in his mirror of corpses that, even if still anguished, serves to lighten the breath:

I write to you feeling all of this
and in an instance of lucidity I could be the river
the goats shrouding the tinkle of sleigh-bells in the silver crystals of a photograph
I could rise as the chestnut-tree of those tales whispered by a fire
and wander, trembling with the birds
or accompany the sulfuric butterfly revealed by humid lips
I could mimic that shepherd
or mistake myself for the dream of a city which little by little bites its own immobility

I inhabit this world of water by error
I’m required radio-graphic images of bones
unfocused faces
hands on bodies printed in paper and mirrors
notice
I have nothing else
if not this note stained with fine arils of pomegranate I sent today
notice
how a heart of paper is yellowed by the forgetfulness of loving you.


“Trabalhos do Olhar” – Al Berto

Passion, even in passing, is an effusing stroke, and a world perhaps collapsed is reshaped (albeit perfunctorily) only to support that florescence, as loving is the most human of all Arts,
notice
we have nothing else.

reticulated (english poetry)


My mother worries about me, as one tends to. I can’t really write much to soothe her (and I have tried), so I wrote this one, quite a while ago, to soothe myself. It was translated from Portuguese, and it is quite old, but I have some strange affection for it. It truly does soothe me.

(I shall craft some more compositions soon, but I’m having some trouble writing in English; something about it always feels artificial to me. Perhaps it is the artifice of translating emotions.)

Endless gratitude to anyone that still manages to find energy to read me!

(Droplet) – poetry in memory

The voices of the world becoming quieter and fewer.

Kafka, October 21 of 1917 – “In Sunshine”, The Third Octavo Notebook.

Every action of scrawling begins with fossicking old dusts in search of eventful shapes, harnessing memory as a mass of particles brought alight; cold fountains dance, pellucid, in a constellation of footfalls, and a blond-featured priest halts the litany, displaying the grimace of revolt, placing a tome of interrogations over the a vine-perfused lectern, passing his tongue over the thumb, and falling silent; indolence befalls substance. Every memory is a phantom of sensation, a tender ogive of contingency launched to annihilate the fabrication of a transmissible instinct, remembering drops of oil distilled from silence and density, a black orb siphoning air, zest, faces, skins — the page is famished, and tinted of ghost.
In the hunting grounds of Memnosyne, man is prey and prayer. Our meat is glazed in agonic shouts, our skin, scented of sanctity, towards which the hunters coil in disgust; vipers, red vipers, snip at our ankles. My head is a catalogue of agonies and heavens, of pains and heavenly hours, painful hours in heaven, heavens within painful hours, and the surreal commune of figures therein: cicadas and silence, mango foam and silence, heaviness, milk, laughter. Self — resuming the balance of plates — lies unrevealed, and a poem threads the stumbling cord held just above the floor in search of light and contour; fruitless.
Memories are burnished pebbles in a rusted sieve, as ineluctable as they are indelible, and contain no glimmer further than that of any sedimentary measure of pain or minimal relief; ages, alone, transfigure them into pearls in shape of traumas, individuations and statuettes of peace, which we paint with garish colours as to dilute their stillness. A poem is an instrument that translates the silence of all, into sound; fruitful. The poem now remembers, as prey and prayer.
We can rest.


Listen, my child, the silence.
It is a rippled silence,
the silence
whence vales and echoes slither,
and that turns faces
to the ground.

Federico García Lorca, “El Silencio”

(Droplet) – mozambique – (English | Português)

A toy © Gökhan Kayal in Clam Collectors of Maputo

Luís Carlos Patraquim lives, but I read him as if he never lived. When I cogitate of his life, I sight odd coppery faces and calcined terrains, the hollowing of plasters in the decrepit walls and fences of Lourenço Marques, a sublimation spawning the vividness of Mozambique in memory, a Mozambique that can only wound memory akin to the rattling of trains; we primp the man, he has no pulse, but acacias bloom and fade within; we primp the man which primps itself by his own labour, and a parsonage remains, history, a seamless image.
The image-of-man is defenseless, exists only in exposition, in row with other images inasmuch as one cannot probe the colour of irises, begginings of laughter or threads, one cannot see sortileges that aren’t extenuatingly pestiferous, nor loves without the clatter of taking steps with a shattered heart; nothing lives in these men, nor is there will to give them such textures, as we are not soothed by seeing such images as articulated flesh, we do not care for the mensuration of their days, or the instances of vitreous fear for time: a first kiss, a first flight, the ontology of a motherly caress, or the satin fever of nights. There is so much to being, so much that refuses to be transfigured in narrative movements, so much matter centred in itself, held in a tattered cloth which is twisted, and twisted, twisted tirelessly for some droplets of varnish. In my manufacture of symbols, I see swollen ossuaries, bronze wheat-ears and cans of castor-oil, and there, I see Patraquim, scanning the acacia’s thirsty leaves.
I see him distantly, cindery, as an ornament of my youth when I would grip any poem whose language allowed for my understanding, before I balanced myself with the rabble of cities, before I was an image-of-man; that, perhaps, goes mostly unspoken. Some speak of machinery, filters and filtering, of means and censorship, vilifying aesthetics and the gelid action of refining a countenance, some speak of calculating innocuous improbabilities while calculating the probability of being understood. Lesser, it seems, speak of the editing of people, of the being made, created and formed by fictions, and I can say without contesting that I know more of those that never lived than I do those that live; I know myself more in the I which never lived, the I in constant persiflage towards improbabilities, the I in a barrage of dreams and quests and pretensions tinted of the same coppery faces, engineered by books and almond-trees, seeing in them a more veritable texture than in the spent colours my eyes still receive.
Patraquim, the image-of-man, gushes in me those droplets of varnish — as if my image-of-man took form of an ewer — and so gushes Stevens, bleeds Hatherly and Sebald, gushes the lad from the subway that crossed my eyes and timidly retracted his own, and I gush, outside, within, impish droplets that inflame me, small blades from a barbershop, small threads of faces petrifying slowly beneath the stepping noises.
Is there an autochthonous child, a storm’s prelude, a fleeting seagull that can cast a linen string over men and images-of-men, a life-saver that rescues them as they were, before they were images of lives? If there is, I fear that remembering that nude version of being may be more maddening than swallowing mercury.

(…)
And your silence, your silence, where
they bloom, bloodied, the acacias of Lidemburg Street
and Lagos shivers in blue and spawns
a styled solitude and a bull which recoils
in the labyrinth of an inflamed aorta,


your mouth, your mouth and your silence
and no longer the inquiry, none,
and your wonderment and that of stars, lightly
the torpid mist submerging your profile,


in the afternoon where I thread,
and the stone registered in a snowing sun.

Luís Carlos Patraquim in “O Círculo

Moçambique

Lúis Carlos Patraquim vive, mas leio-o como se jamais tivesse vivido. Quando cogito que lá terá vivido, vejo semblantes de estanho e terra calcinada, o escorchar do reboco lá nos muros e nas grades de Lourenço Marques, uma sublimação que engendra as forças de Moçambique na memória, um Moçambique que apenas fere a memória como o estertor dos comboios; ataviamos o homem, não tem pulso, tem acácias florindo e morrendo, ataviamos o homem que a si próprio se atavia em seu labor, e resta-nos personagem, história, uma imagem inconsútil.
O homem-imagem é inerme, existe apenas numa exposição, a renque com tantos outros, e não se dedilham cores de olhos, príncipios de risos ou traços, não se vêm sortilégios sem os mesmos serem extenuantemente pestíferos, nem amores sem o ruído acutilante dum coração em cacos; não há nada de vivo nestes homens, nem há vontade de lhes dar essa textura, não nos afaga saber dessas imagens como carne articulada, não nos interessa a mensuração dos seus dias, das instâncias de medo envidraçadas p’lo tempo: o primeiro beijo, o primeiro voo, a ontologia do desvelo materno, a febre acetinada das noites. Há tanto em ser, e tanto que não se transfigura em momentos narrativos, tanta matéria ensimesmada num trapo velho, que é torcido e torcido, torcido infindávelmente por umas quantas gotas de lacre. Na minha manufactura de símbolos, vejo os ossuários entúmidos, espigas de bronze e nas latas de rícino, e existe Patraquim, a perscrutar a sede das acácias.
Vejo-o na distância, cendrado, como um ornamento da minha juventude em que perfilhava qualquer poesia cuja língua me permitia que a lesse, antes de me sopesar na turba das cidades, antes de ser homem-imagem; disso, talvez, poucos falam. Falam da maquinaria, dos filtros e filtragens, dos meios e da censura, aviltam a estética e a forma gélida de editar o rosto, falam-nos do cálculo das improbabilidades inócuas, calculando a probabilidade de os enterdermos. Menos falam da edição das gentes, do humano crescido, criado, formado pela ficção, e posso dizer sem barganha que sei mais dos que jamais viveram do que sei dos que estão vivos; e sei-me mais no eu que jamais vivera, eu no chorrilho dessas improbabilidades, eu na torrente de sonhos e demandas e pretensões pintadas de cobre, um eu engendrado por livros e amendoeiras, vendo-lhes uma textura de realidade mais sincera que as cores exauridas p’los meus olhos.
O homem-imagem de Patraquim jorra em mim as gotas de lacre — como se o homem-imagem que sou fosse em forma de caneco — e jorra Stevens, sangra Hatherly e Sebald, jorra o miúdo do metro que se acanha por me cruzar o olhar, jorro eu, lá fora, cá dentro, pequenas gotas que me inflamam, pequenas lâminas de barbeiro, pequenas linhas de rosto que se petrificam lentamente ao passo dos ruídos.
Haverá uma criança autóctone, um prelúdio de tempestade, uma gaivota fugitiva, que lança sobre as gentes e imagens de gentes um cordão de linho, um salva-vidas, que as salve como elas eram, antes de serem fotografias de vidas? Se haverá, temo que rememorar essa versão nua seja mais enlouquecedor que beber mercúrio…

(…)
E o teu silêncio, o teu silêncio, onde
florescem, sangrentas, as acácias da Rua de Lidemburgo
e Lagos estremece em azul e punge
uma solidão ática e um boi se recolhe
no labirinto da aorta que infla,


A boca, a tua boca e o teu silêncio
e não mais a pergunta, nenhuma,
e o teu pasmo e o das estrelas, ao de leve
a cacimba lenta submergindo-te o rosto,


pela tarde onde caminho,
e a pedra se inscreve no sol que neva.

Luís Carlos Patraquim em “O Círculo”

Vanity by Florbela Espanca

Recently, I came across the endlessly talented Tadzio and his blog of English translations of Italian poems. A little apprehensive at first, I decided to give a shot of my own at translating some of my most adored portuguese compositions.

Florbela is the poet I credit with my interest in composing, so it would be fair to say that any verse of mine you might have liked, is due to her incredible humility and fine-crafted lyricism. Very devalued in life, she now stands as the most important female poet of the portuguese poetic pantheon, one whose influence reaches far and wide within our culture.

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And its portuguese, original version:

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Disclaimer: I’m not a professional or academic of this subject, this translation is merely an attempt at a very arduous and respected Art, that of translating poetry, and I have no intentions of devaluing it with my impish attempts.

Second Disclaimer: I did severely alter the verse that mentions “saudade”. There is a common myth that saudade is an exclusive word of Portuguese, and there is another common myth debunking the former, stating that “longing” and “missing” are direct translations. Neither are correct, there are translations of saudade, and also imports, as Catalan shares the same word (thus making it not exclusive), and other languages have direct translations. English is not one of them. Missing or longing do not mean saudade.

I could not recommend more that you visit The Container and be delighted with Tad’s brilliant translations.


JOHNNY