(Droplet) no peace at all.

St. Sauves, Henrique Pousão, 1881

Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once   
As quick as foxes on the hill;

And that in autumn, when the grapes   
Made sharp air sharper by their smell   
These had a being, breathing frost;

And least will guess that with our bones   
We left much more, left what still is   
The look of things, left what we felt

At what we saw. The spring clouds blow   
Above the shuttered mansion-house,   
Beyond our gate and the windy sky

Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion’s look   
And what we said of it became

A part of what it is … Children,   
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,

Will say of the mansion that it seems   
As if he that lived there left behind   
A spirit storming in blank walls,

A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,   
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.

A Postcard from the Volcano, Wallace Stevens.

There’s no peace at all. I came nearer to the sound, a day cast by a wax-white sun that swelled with a tepid aura, and oozed suavely into the shade of the bushes. There’s now but serried bricks and mounds of pale rubble, spotted with blackness that would trail into the brambles and blackberries. My father’s childhood home is now a print of a time that moves in all directions, and not a speck of memory stands within the reticulated squares which were once rooms, not a piece of tinged cloth used to press a pan, not a foot of an old cabinet, or shards of a vase, not even ash from when the house was consumed. Even a ghost by my side, in a deadness as potent as that which whispered by, would undoubtedly find itself sucked dry of its hyaloid windiness. The only thing hammering the mind were flocks of motors rushing upwards nearby; the first national road of Portugal, built years prior to my father ever seeing the first haze of light, was still intactly conserved, heat bounced off the new asphalt like a transparent scourge, dead as the aurora of the derelict, and cars seemingly flutter along a road that has seen wastelands become radiant settlements and return to wastelandishness in the span of a decade or two. A crooked path finding itself stuck underneath the skeletons of the cycles.

There’s nothing left for us. In a land treacly with the scent of orange, pear and grape, a soil thick with bounty, a mantling velvet hued of peridot, there’s a legacy of small bones and abandonment. One of my aunts, taken by typhus at a count of no more than three years, rests earthed-up somewhere along the rocks, near a cork-oak; she was taken to silence before she heard even a song. Beneath the unstained, swelling sunlight, my grandmother had ten children, surviving two of them. The other she did survive ran sylvan in my imagination when I was a child; he was a poet, they say, gifted at the conjuring of words, talents he exhibited from young age. He’d stride the village clamouring his tunes, a chamberless troubadour, a puerile Baudelaire collecting lent lilles and gifting them to the damsels along with mellifluous sonnets. From while to while, however, he couldn’t hold himself against the streak, and was pursued by a bout of inner demons that, seemingly out of nowhere, would give him implacable depressions. Out of all he did write, only a handful of letters he sent from Lisbon to his mother and siblings survived; and, despite my trials, I was never granted a chance to read any. I fill, then, with buckets of vivid paint, what he might have expressed and how he might have impressed it, how his heart may have been burn-bitten, how what environed him as a child and adolescent, the squalid house in which he grew, the indigent life he likely lived, all serve to create this warm, celestial dream in which I conceive of him not as a lost genius, but a genius at trying, beyond his means of trial and beyond the disinterest he was probably met with, as one may assume by the lack of surviving papers.

He died relatively young, purportedly of epilepsy, resulting from complications he had at birth. Unlike the youngest sibling he lost, however, his tombstone still lies in a common graveyard, next to his mother, not two kilometres beyond the forsaken ruins of his childhood. Of what he left, like a pool in heat, all has but dissipated along the web of his multitudinous siblings.

A little ways forward from the derelict house, I can sit atop the brims of a century-old bridge over-crossing a faded stream, upon which only flows a capillary of water, and overlook the fields: there, in the distance, before the hills preclude the view, I still find no peace at all. Peeling back the cover of humidity that beclouds my eyes as the dry sunlight penetrates them, there stands a field of potatoes that was once arable year upon year, owned by a man that raised me year upon year; there, I first had laid a seed, and first harvested the bulb of my seeding. There, I owned my first dog, Estrela, that every afternoon would be released and wander through the entire village, be petted by the baker and the paperboy, the priest and the butcher, and upon the unmistakably voluble and striking whistle that man produced, she would return immediately, without falter. It was a mechanism, a discipline, that I find branded in my stringent mind in form of a whistle that I will never obliviate. There I first fed chicks and was first pecked when I took their eggs, and first darted around twisting reeds river-side so I could break one off and use it as a sword, or a spear to look for spider burrows along the mounds of excess earth from the ploughings.

The field, as the stream, has now all dried-up, and a sheet of hearty gold overlaid it through all manners of desiccated shrubbery. In all of its slumbering victory, looking at it now, from afar, from an underworld of beastly distance, it gives me a terrible cold. There’s no peace of all. The man who raised me there is buried not twenty-steps from the grave of my poetic uncle, which is two metres from my endlessly sacrificing grandmother, which is two kilometres away from my aunt which will perpetually rest in a youthful silence. There comes a point in one’s life where home is but a vast geometry of longing, an unbearable resting place, a cold light. A place shadowed by the towers of our loss. A place with no peace at all, that no one left.

Casas Brancas de Caprile, Henrique Pousão, 1882

the whole spring (english poetry)

Jan Van Huysum, Basket of Flowers with Butterflies 4


Rachel Ruysch, Flower Still Life

I’ve had this conception since my childhood that we all contain some degree of emotional surrealism within us, some inner set of strings that attempts to disorganise our systems back into their sensorial forms, and, to me, such a tugging between inhabiting orders far too complexified to easily seep into us and listening to our disheveled sensorium tingling tunes that seem so distant, they might as well be eldritch, is the tugging responsible for our yearning to create. Nature is a disorderly place, as much as one likes to ascribe to it profound magnitudes of balance, it is still essential chaos, cruel and demanding and smotheringly bounteous in its expressions, and Spring, in my view, expresses it most; it is the period of survival, florescence and restlessness, the period of greatest demand, filled with equal measures of violence and colourful bombast. It displays something that is quintessential in my view: order is madness, an artificial madness with so many curious spectrums; our disconnection with the natural disorder, that primal wound we carry and oft ignore, that distance to our motherhood — albeit perhaps necessary to maintain the structures and systems we’ve built for social survival — is a wound, an abandonment, which seems forever difficult to balm. With this poem, I attempted to replicate just that: both the overwhelming disorder, and the intensely lyrical nature of Spring and our senses therein, and I did so by instrumentalising parts of my emotional surrealism that trail and fall off, ephemeral thoughts and reflections, alliterations and shifts in voice and tone, repetitions, and a good deal of my botanic and vocabular arsenal. Allusions to mythopoetic women of classical culture, through their realms and domains, are also woven carefully into the composition to summon the froth of the feminine spirit of change and emotional maturity, which, in my catalogue of association, coalesces so marvelously with the notion of naturality and the primaveral.

It’s certainly not, at its core, an easily digestible composition; it is very dense in most poetic aspects, like sound and symbol and image, and I’m sadly aware of this element. But, being raised and still continuing to live in such covenant with Nature, I could never peg it for something simple or parsimonious, as many poetic and prosaic expressions have previously. To me, it’s wondrously intricate and limitless, secretive and glorious, painful and healing. It’s nearly everything, and nearly everything can’t truly be simple in my eyes. Despite its dense qualities, I’m still hopeful that a reader will be able to extract meaning out of it.

Also, it might be a bit odd that a composition regarding Spring comes in February, but inflorescence happens a bit earlier in Portugal. We are already enjoying primareval weathers, and the cart of Spring already turns its vine-wheels through these lands.

A thousand blooming thank-you’s for reading.

MOBILE TRANSCRIPT (WITHOUT STYLISED INDENTATION)
Continue reading the whole spring (english poetry)

smoky balances (english poetry)


It’s a very simple poem, likely one of the simplest I’ve posted recently, but it’s a good practice to have some levity once in a while, some balance. My eyes tend to get tired of the denser colours.

Thank you for reading,
João-Maria.

(Droplet) the diminishing of writing.

Shira Gold with Good Grief, chapter of Shock, is a rending exploration of elemental loss and recovery. Shock covers a stage of both isolation and fatality.

Approach, there are voices, a finished star. We select a stick and twist the algae, what does it contain now? At once, everything, all colour and light any eye is to receive; stringy life in vertical lifelessness, and there are systems as hyaline as emotions, finished stars, beginning stars, some are turtles and some, small tadpoles. This sensory realm unfolds its frills and aqueous dreams spur out, yet there is cruelty: this I see, but how do I say it? Systems are cocoons around the unbending, spiritual cages around sensuous shapes, and none is to float in the air they break. A brush is lifted to reproduce the stream, paints percolate and fall like the corpses of a vision; however, this is the vision, the fatality of colours and lights any eye bleeds to receive; the commissures of expression stretch once more, because more is to be said, motions, movements, the bunting of colours as unfocused displays of sensuality that obstreperously flee from the point of magic; nearly suddenly, movement is an object of dissension, a prize of lack, because what moves cannot do so in all orientations nor arrive absolutely. We are taken back, a squalid lucidity flashes the room, a shiver, a warm bright-white sun which is a finished star and a beginning star, perception is formed and is unstinting, the content of a phrase putrefies, a dusty painting. There is futility in order, yet we so orderly design the dream which isn’t dream any longer: the books go here, by the margin, Bach follows above the gleam, a pestitential smile that dims under an odd tugging of loss; yet another membrane of lack, expanded, intumesced, a breathing wound in horizontal breathlessness, a pulley lowering the ropes around our necks until we touch the ground: the world lies right there, there, you may see it, and this you see, but how do you live it? How do you stand in an unsound architecture?

What boils the dream into a tarry sludge is the statuesque essence of extremity, be in ultimate positive insofar as you desire yourself in each millimetre of bled-out sight, each motion of pain and each dimension of possession; an extreme safety banishes an extreme fear, an extreme hatred dissolves an extreme weakness; we are wholesomely corporeal in our dreams, we are flimsy legs and velvet flesh, we are green, sometimes pink, and rarest of all, we can be purple, full things in a full realm of unsmothered movements that stretch in all directions and arrive absolutely in each.

But it is not the profound dissociation from dream and living that languishes the spirit or dries the stream, it is maddening poise of how inextricable they are, those instants of total sensory delivery that are godly hands rending the systems, fledgling swallows in the flocks of words, poppies wavering in the fields of memory, which become themselves the words and the waverings; instants where life is undiscerned from anything else, a pure fount of sense where we become untetherable from the totalities we contain; instants where we become unobliteratable, and thus, disenchanted with obliterative extremes, both dream and dream, life and life, a beginning star and a finished star.

Those are the truths I’d like to keep, the ferment of my writings, my systems, but trying to encapsulate them is like trying to collect bladed plumes; to reproduce them is to shatter the silent nature that allows their force. Perhaps by lack of talent or stamina or persistence or experience, I can never quite get to them, I can never bring someone to that point of exurgent sensory blossoming that informs my creations, but I’m not giving up just yet.

Shira Gold with Good Grief, chapter of Shock; I cannot encourage you enough to perscrutate her work, she stands as one of my favoured discoveries of 2019.

to taste of salt (english poetry)


I spent a good deal of December avoiding the written arts entirely; there was this sentiment of emotional threshold, a sensation that the stacks of words I was creating were cindery distillations of ire or sadness. The purge I necessitated to convalesce informed my Art, but I thought it should be contrary, that my Art should instruct the purge, navigate the healing, become a beacon of undiluted self that extended structural fingers of beauty to raise me from any form of depth.
My creative reluctance ended with this piece, a malformed narrative schematic-of-a-poem, overwrought and of painful reading, written in a about forty minutes without interruption. I returned to my methodical alcove and once more resigned to the weight of my distortions, yet I’m not ashamed, strangely, because I must herald the authenticity of my expression even when it is a shattered crystal, even when I’m met with the countenance of what I sought to exile from myself; because it is impossible to heal when we are eternally bound to the shame of hurting.

JoãoMaria

Happy Together (1997)

In spirit of support for Hong Kong’s recent and on-going social struggle, I decided to review one Cantonese work that had the vastest artistic influence over myself and my own creative method, and that work is, without an inkling of doubt, Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together, made in 1997. This film proved to be the deserved consolidation of Wai’s directorial style and, simultaneously, a unique insight into Hong Kong’s LGBTQ+ dynamics as well as the specific emotional axioms of abusive relationships in a profound state of isolation. The film, armed with a minimalist cast of only three actors and an even more parsimonious and unfinished script that weaves itself together by means of image and sound, is a sprawling exploration about the coalescence of masculinity and the tumultuous and abashing treatment of LGBTQ+ communities in certain countries, a mixture that exacerbates a type of emotional mutism and reinforces the role of violence, both emotional and physical, in replacing the lack of communication and expressive clarity that should lie at the heart of any interpersonal relationship.

The relationship between Ho Po-wing, an airy and infantile man whose volatility proves highly obliterative, and Lai Yiu-fai, a depressive and internally unstable individual who finds himself in a perpetual performance of silent self-destruction, serves as the machine-of-war for the film’s dark existence; Ho Po-wing recurrent malediction, «Let’s start over.», made whenever the relationship felt most strenuous, was further engraved by his purchase of a lamp that resembled the Iguazu Falls, which the couple had planned to visit. This lamp acts as the central nervous system of a relatively diaphanous narrative. Both Ho’s infatuation with it and Lai’s attachment to what it represents seems to tether them both to a sense of eventual romantic actuation: as long as the luminous waters of the lamp cascade, so does the blood of the conjoined and corrupting heart of their relationship.
The film then shifts its focus to the exploration of Lai’s convalescence from this deeply abusive relationship, one that left him with the sorrow of survival and confusion thereof, to survive outside and beyond a mechanism of abuse that slowly became his raison-d’être, one that left him felt alone, lost, ashamed, betrayed and obliterated, trapped in a country which wasn’t his own and unable to return.

Wong Kar Wai’s lavishly dim cinematographic aesthetics, after gaining emboss in Chungking Express (1996), are further consolidated in Happy Together; the recurrent chromatic shifts that play upon the levels of narrative magnitude, the derelict and harsh environments reverberated by a sanitised, dry usage of light that appear as a signature of both his thematic emotional acuity and as a replication of Hong Kong’s own neon-spent frigid and synthetic streets, and the instrumentation of visual punctuations, chiefly exemplified by the films opening scene, a sanguine and heaving sexual encounter whose aggressiveness is found in both the actors and the corner-angled, gradually more intimate shots; the aesthetic interludes of the film also serve as vibrant expository conveyors, and such is the case with the bird’s eye shot of Iguazu Falls which is overlaid with a low-saturation filter and backgrounded by Caetano Veloso’s Cucurrucucú paloma, a pensive song about the destructive motions of lovesickness; shots like the kitchen tango scene, or the culmination of Lai’s emotional devastation in the voice recorder scene, are made with a level of artistic direction that, as far as my experience with film goes, has no parallel in how effectively it translates the most profound and vicious elements of emotional abuse in romantic relationships.

With a soundtrack that includes Astor Piazzolla’s Tangos, Frank Zappa’s I Have Been In You, and a cover of Happy Together by The Turtles (which inspired the English name of the film), Wai assures not only that every scene receives and apposite sound, but also that all the themes intertwine seamlessly, something he was already famed for after the release of Chungking Express and its memorable usage of California Dreamin’.

Lastly, I would like to express my support for the Cantonese people; their culture and heritage is not only thronged with beautiful works, it also had a magnificent impact on the cultural productions of today, on and beyond Cinema. One such example is Nicholas Wong’s Crevasse, a guttural poetry collection about growing up LGBTQ+ in Hong Kong that I could not recommend more.

catkins (english|portuguese poetry)

CATKINS

AMENTILHOS

Again, not quite as potent as I would have it; writing compositions over days (or, at times, weeks) allows for a more refined method of writing, but some assaulting sensations end up becoming elements of works where they don’t necessarily belong, which makes the process muddy. Sieving said sensations, percolating them, becomes a bit of an exercise in taste more than anything else. If only this had a science (it wouldn’t be half as interesting if it did).
I also realise that merely saying these are translations doesn’t do much without access to the original texts, so, I’ve provided it here. If you do happen to know Portuguese (olá), and would like to offer translation feedback, I would be immensely grateful of such, since my translation skills are rather primal.

Thank you much for reading,
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.

paladin, 17 (english poetry)


Writing poems has, slowly, become a ritualistic exercise of hindering the velocity of my mind-dialectic, give it a shape, try to understand what it is I’m trying to reach. I rarely ever reach it. Various elements go missing, and I end up scouring a wreckage more-so than exploring an inner architecture. That is the thing, though, things don’t often come out as they are, and less often come out as they should, but it’s still important that they do.

The “you” element is not something I ordinarily use in English poetry, I don’t always like the form it takes in English, as it feels more dual than I believe it should. This poem, however, as all of those I’ve recently published, is translated from its Portuguese original. Don’t judge it too harshly, he is not from here, you see…

Endless gratitude for reading
João-Maria.

dusk (english poetry)

DUSK

I haven’t been writing poetry quite as much, often opting instead for prose or even the marvelous lassitude of notes and aphorisms, and that is mostly due to this strange bout of ineffective thought. I contain the outlines, the emboss and image of a poem, but my mind is rather accelerated and disperse thereafter, it creates these arabesque and disjointed blocks of paltry expression. I’m sure this poem ought to mean something, and I could make a case for what that might be, it is the form that seems oddly disconcerting, an etiolated flower, the white patch of a limestone shatter.
I’m hopeful it is one of those problems that fixes itself, a phase of sorts. Otherwise, I might need to invest in writing novels.

Thank you so much for reading, if you’ve done so,
— joão-maria.