⌉|⌈ – Arboretum


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JOHNNY

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Canto IV – Dead Narcissus (Prostagma)

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

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


JOHNNY

Canto II (PROSTAGMA)

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

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

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

Thank you, so much.


JOHNNY

Pre-Canto & Canto I (english poetry)

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

Thank you for reading!


JOHNNY

Sundials of Bakrit (english poetry)

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

sundials 3


JOHNNY

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

Criticism: spider eggs and self-worth.

Following the string of compositions from when I initially started posting, you might sight some of the most primitive and uninspired works of web-poetry around, and along those lines of frozen time, you might even find a generally negative disposition I have towards my work, as well as a strong hostility directed at my own artistic development.
I believe, albeit probably wrong, that any artist of any craft holds little to no love for a product that is finished, because its the process and the journey that must be loved and nurtured, and the final result: an outburst of pain compounded with shame, a linen woven by acid needles that thrust with every line, every paintbrush and every note of a melody. It is natural to hold hatred towards our own creations, not necessarily because they are parts of ourselves we shed into a piece, but because they are willingly given away and lost, they are mirrors within mirrors and whatever they reflect has been traded at the highest cost: the peace we once found in producing them, now inhabits the piece, now… its gone…

And not only is it condensed into the work, it also constitutes an energy that dances around our own, creating a thick mist of unbound chaos, and we rush to perfect it, to alter it and reprise it. It is never done, never complete, it haunts us while it exists, because it could be so much more… and why isn’t it so much more? Why isn’t it the piece that will propel the next century of artists into unrest and endless creativity?

It is necessary to find balance, as with everything. I do not have shame towards my older work, I embrace it, because it allows me to gage how I’ve grown, what I’ve become, it gives me a tangible example of my evolution and the rewards I was able to reap from my effort. But still, I cannot read any of them, or rewrite any of them in any way.
They are foreign to me, the poetic subject has shifted, and my older self that indeed wrote those pieces, has now risen walls of solid isolation and sheltered within them. And the reason I cannot go back to them is relatively simple, as its commonly said – we are our biggest critics – and it serves well to be so, but we mustn’t become our biggest tormentors, striking hot iron into the flesh of our past tenses, attempting to gather enough information that justifies the inaptitude of what we were, and especially, of what we are now.

That is also why I’ve insisted on not trying to become an author at such tender age, not for lack of confidence in my body of work (although that also exists very strongly), but also because that would entail presenting work that would be worth paying for, worth spending time over, worth being read and invested, and my work isn’t there yet, and it won’t be there until every ounce of liquid pride I possess can be applied to such creation, and I understand that this unrealistic concept equals one of chasing geese around a prairie, but it allows me to find peace in my ever-so flawed and inept poems, they are a product of my dedication to a craft that, eventually, might be as shifting and influential to someone, like so many have been to me.

But that is eventually, and meanwhile, I relish in the sensation that any poem I publish today, will be something I cannot read a year from now, and that evolution of the self and its relation to worth, is such a beautiful inner process on its own, one that already compensates any ill-feeling over my own work. I’ve grown and will continue to grow, what else could I ask for?