(Droplet) jorge

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.

Train-station in Vale do Peso, Crato, Portugal

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.

Mãe, first poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea
Uma Mente Aproveitada, fifth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea
Não, eighth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea

«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.

Camphora, fifteenth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania
Catalina, nineteeth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania
Encaixado, thirty-first poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania

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.

on Goya

Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-1823


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.

Thank you, and have a lovely Sunday!,
João-Maria.

on Inness

George Inness, “The Roman Campagna“, 1874


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.

Thanks for reading,
João-Maria.

style

(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):

DECONSTRUCTION OF (POETRY)


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.

poetry


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.

on Van Gogh

Irises, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
(teal and prussian-blue)

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.


João-Maria

(Droplet) a basket of sun, a wicker of fear.

Praia Grande, Lisboa, 2019, taken by me.

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.

Same one, from further back, with the massive wound of sunset. Although my camera isn’t great, there’s some beauty to how it ended up appearing.


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.


Thank you,
João-Maria.

on Gauguin

Nature morte au profil de Laval, Paul Gauguin, 1886

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.

maundering relics #1


Before the world spun suddenly into this crucible of fear and solitude we identify today, I had plans of collecting forgotten relics of the Portuguese written arts. Lisbon is thronged with “alfarrabistas“, stores with the unique purpose of selling rare and used books, many of them bought in bulk from personal libraries found by folks once they lay their relatives to rest. These libraries often contain, besides various editions of World Literature classics (your common James Joyce “Ulysses” and Leo Tolstoy “War and Peace“), an even more interesting assortment of gifted-re-gifted books that bounce from generations without much thought to their existence. They are to bookshelves what pebbles are to beaches; but I’ve always taken a special interest in these books. Unfortunately, I was only able to find two before the entire globe crashed atop itself:


Encontro (Poemas D’Amor)
Albino Fernandes de Sá

The inscription in the second image reads:
Ao sempre querido e inesquecível amigo Hélio, a quem este livro deve, em grande parte, o seu aparecimento, com um almoço de eterna gratidão, oferece:
O autor Albino Fernandes de Sá

Translated:
“To my ever sweet and unforgettable friend Hélio, to which this book owns, in large part, its existence, I offer, along with a lunch of eternal gratitude: Encounter (Love Poems).
The author, Albino Fernandes de Sá”


It’s rare to find a book of limited printing, especially one such as “Encontro“, which was printed in 1954, fourty-one years prior to my birth; but rarest still, it seems, is to find one such book that was gifted by the author himself to the friend that inspired it. One is often given to reflections regarding the loss of being, that shedding, and concomitantly, where the scales of our shedding might lie; foundered in some sea-floor, rived by caracoles and barnacles, or earth-bitten under metres of soil, near a tall building or pile of rubble. None of us hold much of a clue regarding the destination of our droplets, our scales, our shards that stamp upon things our sole impression of what they are.
Not much can be found regarding Albino Fernandes de Sá. Some registries of old, lost publications, indicate that he might have published, in collaboration, a series of treatises and short anthropological works regarding the old Portuguese-African colonies. Bibliographic guides have cited Governador da Hulía, a book he wrote apropos the ever-shifting political powers in the region of Hulía, Angola, is one such example (though most documents I’ve found cite this as a reference to Mozambique and not Angola, and the reason for such has eluded me thus far).
Fernandes de Sá, however, was not a colonial native. By reading poems in “Encontro“, I rapidly gathered his place of birth to be Barcelos, in the Northern Portuguese region of Minho. It’s likely that he wasn’t from the city itself, since he mentions a village in the poem “A minha aldeia“, and later the river Neiva, in the aptly named poem “O Neiva“.

River Neiva, by Jaime Pereira in Olhares

Encontro” chronicles, in punctilious detail, the entire life of Fernandes de Sá. It delineates his birthplace and parents, his favourite flowers as a child, his journeys to the coast and first sight of sea, his first voyage to the colonies, his upbringing with his “bark-haired” loving sister, his first love, marriage, first daughter and son. The hymeneal bliss in which he found himself, as if citterns played everywhere, buoyant as bubbles along the smoothest whiff of air, plays a coronary role in this book. Fernandes de Sá wrote of it all in a-hundred-and-fifty sonnets, which are, thus far, the only creative publication I’ve found under his name; even then, “Encontro” was a personal publication. It never had a commercial form nor was it ever available beyond the copies requested by the author. I haven’t, however, found any other extant copy of the book, either for sale or under private hands. The last record of Fernandes de Sá publicly available was a print of his presence in a literary gathering in Sá da Bandeira (present-day Lubango), dated 1963. I found no evidence of living descendants ever returning to Portugal, but it is indubitable that they exist, albeit perhaps disconnected from the written aspect of Fernandes de Sá‘s life. This leads me to the rather feeble conclusion that this book I currently hold is, with a strong chance, the last remnant of Albino’s personal writings, and that it likely came from the private library of Hélio himself, the friend that inspired its creation.


The Neiva

Nature has its lovers,
that charged with affection, with sugar,
she, sometimes, employs in the making
of vistas glazed in a thousand colours!

Radiated by auroral showers,
it slithers through the moss-green web
of the view, beaming with freshness,
from Antas, the Neiva, lined in flowers.

It seems like a mirror of luminous crystal,
in which my sumptuous village sights
its own profile of emerald and sapphire.

Since my youth I returned its ardent love.
I figure that within my blood runs the dew
that flows in my sweet and beautiful Neiva.

A dream that has not died

A dream that has not died: my Angola.
Since youth, I wanted to give it my life.
It smiled, fair and colourful,
like to the sun smiles a corolla.

Its voice was a coo of a dove
that between the boughs sings invitingly.
I made her my bride, my most wanted,
and she, in sadness, consoled me.

I loved her with passion; in her, my dreams
of love and beauty came to find
warmth and home to live happily.

I then decided to give her my vigour,
my life, my blood and my love,
all of which, far from her, would die.

(Note: these translations are not entirely faithful to the original metric and scheme of the poems, since most of them are written in a form of Portuguese already adapted to sonorific effects; these translations merely intend to mimic the original sentiment of the text)


Those scales — shards of impression — may fall anywhere indeed. It’s uncertain to me if “Encontro” was first produced in Angola, though the date of its publication and the last record of Albino both congruently indicate that it was written and printed there, in Sá da Bandeira, mid-twentieth century. I know not who carried it to Portugal, where it was kept or how long it percolated, from a hand to another, until it was drowned beneath multitudinous old books on the most varied subjects, and lastly, picked up by me, likely due to my profound weakness regarding the shaded outline of spring swallows. Every attempt I make at alchemising a possible story sounds overly poetical and contrasts with my knowledge of this world. This now lonely, diseased, and at times, unbearably real world. What I know is that the words of Fernandes de Sá have found another “encounter” in their subtle existence, and that, at least for now, they have another home in which to perdure, another memory to cling to.


The other book, “Lucilações” by Telémaco Augusto Santana, shares many elements with this one, but has many more elements unique to itself; sadly, in fear of making this post any denser, I will publish it at a later date, but as soon as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this brief journey into the oblivion of words; I have more planned, hopefully, if and when things resume to themselves. I would also like to deepen the prose of these voyages; unfortunately with the case of Fernandes de Sá, I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable of Northern Portugal, nor have I ever visited Angola (only Mozambique and South Africa).

Thank you for reading, as always!,
João-Maria.

(Droplet) vesaas.

Jonathan Levitt, Echo Mask

The house slopes down from the holt, pieces of wenge sorted among lithe vertical panes, casting licks of sun upon the floors. The back-porch hung above the echo of a stream; it no longer ran even a hair of water. Standing purposefully near a dammed lake, during early mornings, one couldn’t detect the house from the trees due to a thick, sulphurous mist, and at the lips of a summery evening, one could enjoy the tunes of laughter from swimmers, or the sound of timber and scent of resin, a feeling of tempered rapture gracing the thoughts with smooth sand. As the chrysalis of moths Felix and I often found and kept in a shoe-box, that entire world seemed quiescent, and even my memory of it resists the curse of movement. Ingrid, the wife of the German architect whose hands birthed that beacon of modernity deeply enclaved in a Portuguese forested desert, spent her days reading Vesaas; with her short, brown hair and irises of a deep blue steel, she was unlike any woman I had seen. She held Vårnatt or Liv ved Straumen with such a grip of absorption, such a pure and centred consciousness, that as we looked for her hammock along the wide porch, she was entirely invisible against the quiescence; if we were to paint the vista, she’d be indiscernible from the yellowed foliage, and whenever she rose, the neutrality of her being was so that one couldn’t detect any happiness or sadness, just a form, a morphology, a rustling of leaves.

I spent an entire summer with Felix, the wheat-topped son of the couple, but I never met the father. As we made our way along the house, however, we could piece him together from the lines of his creations: the monumental skylights — as uncluttered as skylights could be — were two metres wide each and went uninterrupted until their sum was four, and not a speck of dust could be detected against the light blue; the only visual assonance was the armour of the skylights, eight thin white lines veining the heavens, and one final beam to tether them at the center. Felix and I gathered that he ought to be charismatic and surprisingly forthcoming, or maybe, he was frightened of being stuck, or senseless, or lost. All the rooms of their home were echoes of the last, all made of different tones of wood that demanded adjustment from the eyes; in certain instances, it was nearly impossible to tell what was wall, floor or ceiling, as the three were lined with small wooden panels whose shade could only indicate that, perhaps, the floor was a month older than the wall, or the ceiling was from trees of an adjacent plot to those of the counters. A thick layer of lacquer atop the panels robbed them of any residual contrast, and as the house sloped from the holt, once within, it felt like it was hovering above it, descending into the breath of nature itself. Felix and I figured he must have been melancholic, but not outwardly so, a very thin patina of melancholy that, perhaps, in any normal day of his life, he’d never guess he even had. There was no garden and, as is customary to European summer homes, no physical or imagined separation between what was property and what wasn’t. The house melded into the airy forest almost organically, but still, never failed to draw light into itself or to feel somewhat foreign. As we rose an effigy of symbols in order to give bevel to his father, the sentiment of notness never left the tips of our cogitations. We knew he wasn’t extravagant, or terribly daring, or colourful, or had any bombast; he was another figure of quiescence, and, perhaps with even bigger force, his absence was the most bombastic element of his being. His signature wasn’t just his subtlety, but his inexistance. After we became privy of that, we quickly fatigued of piecing together a presence, or labouring over the fables behind his miniature planes, which were all collected inside the only room completely walled in glass, the only one that felt earthly, human, present. We decided, instead, to pick apart a putrid log fallen onto the echo of the stream and play with the beetle grubs.

I never saw Felix after that summer, twelve years ago. The house was vacant three years after we were there, and after five with a caretaker, it was abandoned and scheduled to be demolished today. Now, I gaze at the same sky of limpid blue and fill it with the fiction of lithe white veins and a strong central tether, and from me spring the sounds of swimmers laughing, and slowly, another summer loses its place in reality, becomes historical, and I walk into my own subtle inexistence, my own inch tucked downwards from the holt, swallowed by the earth, echoed in my dreams.

Jonathan Levitt, Echo Mask

there’s a kingdom of voices


(I’m going to start publishing some “humbler” poems I have stored and continually write; although I’m quite demanding of, if not the quality of the poetics themselves, at least the attempted quality of the posts, as well as their parsimony, I realise that I’ve become quite obsessive with it, which ebbs against me rather than flow in my benefit. There’s no use in being associated with just density, just longevity, or even just the maximum of what I can provide, if that comes at the cost of the development of veritable writing versatility. Some will indubitably be worse than others, and I still prefer my denser, longer works, if not just because I truly lucubrate over those extensively, but I hold the belief that all of creative work — mine or yours — has a tangible intrinsic worth; perhaps not to all, but it does to me. One ought to practice what one preaches.)

Thank you tons, you guys,
João-Maria.

(Also, a huge thank you to Sapna, and the power-double from StarTwo [visual artists and storytellers with such enviable skills, one would be tempted to steal their hands], for nominating me for awards; I don’t reply solely because I have a golden rule of only creating literary-themed posts and none other, otherwise this blog would be a flurry of piano album reviews and tributes to deciduous trees, but I truly, deeply appreciate you guys remembering me; if I did awards, I surely wouldn’t forget you either)

(And a monumental bow to Kaiter, for including me in his circulars whenever my work passes the readable threshold; to be included is — if one is attentive to his beautiful talents, rectitude and rigour — beyond any word that synonyms incredible, and I’m tremendously grateful. If anything, I’m already immensely grateful that I get to enjoy the other contents in his blog and circulars, whose eminent taste I’d recommend to anyone who’d enjoy a step above my own works.)

katabasis

Ivan Marchuk, Moonlit Night 1882


Ivan Marchuk

These days, to write feels almost strange, almost selfish. Torrents of flurries of anxieties ignite the nerves, and one feels leeched before the first phrase forms. Solitude outcasts the voices — depersonalises — and what once was an interaction of linings, echoes of a singular voice with many textures, seems now like a procession of isolated galleys. There is no dismissing of these voices, they haul the murderers, the mercenaries of our creative constructs. A succession of disasters that reshape, with the tools of torture, a disjointed spectre of reality, one that bounces only from itself, and is only madness.

I’m sorry, father. I miss you.

(Droplet) jupiter, the loneliest planet.

The tourist – Paolo Jommelli
(I did not want to further saturate feeds with images of masks and solitude; this image, now a feeling of “what once was”, seems perfect to me presently. There are two layers of past in it: that of a gathering we won’t soon see again, and that of the ship, a forgotten relic of previous struggles.

We become inured to the tragedies of our miracles. I see now a Europe leeched dry of its fortitude; Lisbon is empty, and it seems that I plash about inside indifferent space. It feels colder, now, but only because it feels the same. The old gypsy moth flaps its thin veil of dust just the same, crowned in indifference, and my lungs can no longer complete a conscious breath; half of them seems filled with a tasteless disease, and the other half bubbles. It’s fear, the whole sum of it. A small thing traveled so far and rived our world, a world held together by fragile specks of dust with lungs brimming with fear, a world that thrashes around, enchained, servile, a cold point in a warm room. We forgot how to fear wisely, we became inured to the tragedies of being, we’ve heard of them time and time again, how many have died, how they suffered, how the bones of their calloused hands are now the palisades we gawk at, how the arts of those we’ve lost are the lymph and blood of beauty, a beauty made with the hardest of stones abraded by the softest of waters, a beauty made of loss, of cost, of brokenness, and so much of it is now sand in a Greek coast, ash in a Chinese garden, pearls of rime in a Peruvian summit. Our numbness to what once was is filled with fear. We’ve seen a history so unforgiving, we cannot move a foot without the miracle of forgetting, all immediately or simply slowly, that we are here merely to perform a disappearance. This is not our task, this is not our purpose, this is not the whole of what we are, but as one fills the lungs once more and feels them bubble, as one dreads that incoate breath paused by illness and fear, one cannot fail to remember suddenly that half of life is paused with unbecoming, with shedding. Conclusion is a messy, hungry master; it feeds and expands, much as a disease, until there is naught but itself and the warmth of emptiness. I cannot walk in my own city, but I can see it dry and wither from my room, I can see the spectres dart and fling about, the gypsy moths and the pigeons, aureated with the sheen of their indifference, shall now and for a short while be the rulers of our frail legacies, and they shall rule with effortless justice. After all, they have no need to forget, and as blindness is such a dear consort to fear, I spend my days trying to forget even what is to come, trying to knit, below those I love the most, a net of artificial safety. I try to give air to their lungs filled with fear, yet I have so little to spare. Afraid and enclosed, we wonder then: what will tomorrow bring? Another malaise, another death, another end to the means of living? A longer shadow still, it seems, than that of falling so violently ill, is the sensation of falling regardless, the slow and breath-stealing descent that has stricken us, falling, destitute, sick, in pain, afraid. Our pains are fresh, still, and it is long before they heal, and none alive today shall forget the tolls of this tragedy, but it is of little use to ironclad our much-too-real paranoia now, since more wounds will inevitably open. What truly matters now is the power of our painful difference in this world, because as much as we may never again forget the tolls of this immeasurable descent, we must just as strongly be reminded of our ability to alter it: stay home, be generous, listen, be protected and protect those you love. None of us is alone, we are all responsible, we are all entombed by the same fears. Be safe, for you, for us all.

Thank you so much for still being here.

mum is a leopard (english poetry)


If anyone has been reading me for over a year, you might have detected that the structure of this poem draws much from my older English compositions, such as Emerald Cage and Low Poetics. I wanted to design something that returned to that a bit, and simultaneously, I wanted to write as if I was a child looking at a blossom. I’m not certain I achieved either of those, but there was an intention.

The Lispector’s Egg reference pertains to Clarice Lispector‘s The Egg and the Chicken, a small story that is truly indescribable, much to the likes of all of Lispector’s works. I started reading Lispector when I was very young, and when my mother is sad, she always reminds me of Clarice, a sort of saturnine ethereal being locked to mortality, a misplacement, an injustice of some mystical kind. I believe there is an easily accessible translation of the short-story somewhere online, and I urge you with utmost potency to find it and give it a read.

There is also this beautiful piano-electronic album I’ve been bewitched by, Moon Ate the Dark, which is surprisingly serene yet inspiring and cumbrous. If you like mellow instrumentals, especially for reading or writing, give it a chance.

As usual, a thousand thanks,
João-Maria.

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