⌉|⌈ – Of Worth Onto Self. 

 


             My strides and vigour in poetic refinement, albeit little, have warranted me much trust from a few deambulatory souls (including many from WordPress, I adore you all dearly), whose abound kindness and levity allowed my work to be weightless, and live freely, in whichever form it holds, and whatever path it may pursue. This trust — or perhaps, credence — has led a fair few to the haunting question of worth; “Is my poem good?, Am I a good writer?”

           Assuming a grounded perspective upon the canticles of quality, and furthermore, interest, of course a work can be good, or satisfying, or accomplished; And any, with or without knowledge in the Art, may cast conclusions, and both the question and the following answer are inexorably legitimate. But who does that serve? 

      A scale of worth is, then, given to mires of juxtaposition; A work with higher verisimilitudes to those exalted by literary canons, is one of higher worth; At least, as one is quick to assume. Poetry, akin to any medium of Art, devours itself in non-absolution, and there are little reasons — in my view — that the Artist, too, should be devoured, or grimmer yet, should devour itself. But the recipe is clear, albeit not, and it shades externally as something clear, when internally, the same couldn’t be more false. “Be sincere.”; As I’ve said, many times; But that alone is insufficient to edge anyone into a more rightful direction. Bukowski was a tenderly sincere man, and to a different extent, so was Mallarmé, or Miss Ana from across the street, whose morning smile while stacking bananas is so worthfully poetic as Heródiade. There is nothing good about a poem, and there is nothing evil either; When it is sincere, it merely is and it requests little else; It isn’t as hungry as the immensity of Art, nor must it be crushingly artful. It musn’t be anything, and it can be nothing; Because we can feel anything, and we can feel nothing, and this isn’t good nor bad, it just is, just as it needs to be. Sincerity, to me, does not resist judgement, but flows with it. Much like a poem. 

         One is then tasked with reaching that medium of gentility in which sincerity, by itself, does not overbear the relay; It is a fine sheet of ice, and it will crack and dip, and at times, sink and resurface; But after that line, there is no return, and along those cracks, no repair. This medium is a sinuous, tranquil glade, where words fall into a doze. It is a home to some, and a graveyard to others, and sometimes, both. But it is not a permanent space, as it tolls heavily. You must be the ship that dares back into the turbulent seas of a self-serving reality, and ache. 

           This, too, is a heavy thought; Almost a level of mystical, peppered with surreal; But I, who write poems, venture into that place, as I believe Bukowski might have, or Mallarmé, and certainly Miss Ana, who is likely to visit very often. We all do; Versing, restocking, breathing, existing. One who requires fleeing, insofar as it imagines such escape, is already halfway escaping into just that thought; And that, maybe, might be why imagination is so warmingly sincere, even if surreal, absurd, and aesthetically mystical. 

         To those who’ve known my aesthesis, I’ve often stated that I do not find my poems good, I never have, not once. Why do I keep writing, despite that? Why do most of us? Well, to me, I just sincerely want to. Regardless of worth (of self or others), or even that cast by others; these are all structural to improvement and growth, but not to worth. Thus, being sincere simply means believing your work is, as it must be merely what it is, irregardless of whatever it should perceivably be. This might sound like a gamble on semantics, but in truth, that’s what it is: to deconstruct this noxious seed that something as volatile as Art, can ever hope to be ideally good. That such a rigid concept of worth can co-exist with human entropy, either of self, or others. One, therefore, does not hold worth, since it is what it must be, and shall change — by will or design — to whatever it must, simply because it must. 

         To be frank, my singular hope is that you who reads me, and simultaneously, also writes (like most of you do), fear not for the worth of your sincerity, as perhaps you have before, and are likely to do again. Remember my words, when such malaise sweeps your mind, and they may soothe you. I really hope they do. 


JOHNNY

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⌉|⌈ – 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

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

A Dumb Exercise in Misery

         After months of arduously refining my poetics, there are still many subtle fields of necessary detail I’m yet to cover. The major — and hardest — is that is which most revered across our Art. The production of epics, akin to those of Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Homer’s Iliad, requires a level of poetic awareness that transcends mere foreshadowing. To tell an anchoring and complex story through verse, metered or not, is a huge challenge on its own. But I, your Johníssimo, have an innate hunger for my own chaos and misery, so I will try to craft myself an impish epic. Nothing the likes of those aforementioned. If I could write like Dante, I would be the first in living History to do so.

         My respect for these authors is abound, they are much like guides — maybe even parents — to the way I inspect the elements of my reality, but it only grew once I started writing in their forms. Yikes, it is truly so hard, but also, so incredibly fun. Every bit of it is challenging, and awesome. I feel a bit like a young child when I start things like these.

Even though I’m not good at it, nor close to good, I hope to improve and ease-out my struggles with it as I create it. If nothing else, at least, I can feel a bit less lonely while I do it.

The story, as far as I’ve etched it, follows Luriam, a Soldier who ventures into Cocytus in a quest to discover the Tablet of Paximus, a Hermetic Artefact that erases ones selected memories if that soul lays itself against the surface of marble.

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1st Pre-Canto

So far, the production of the Cantos has been the most streamline process of all, as they are sung by characters; and I have some ease with lyrical compositions.

The Pre-Cantos, scenario settings and outer-story elements are harder to manipulate in verse, and that’s where I have most difficulty. So far, I haven’t been able to maintain a structural verse identity without sacrificing some information. Simultaneously, I don’t want pre-cantos to be overly expositive and lack emotional approaches to the story.

I’ve found some options to counter this: shifting narration from Cocytus to Narya (Luriam’s consort), and allow emotional draws into the expositive verses; or give agency to Cocytus himself, melding with how the shades behave towards Luriam.

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A small example of Canto I, The Wail of a Solitary Shade

Despite heavily inspired by Greek Mythos, this little project has given me the chance for some original world building, something I haven’t truly done before, but always had an ache for. Places the Hymeron (The First Gate of Cocytus), don’t exist within the actual mythos, and serve as stages for the various Cantos.

Dante himself was also fond of introducing prose into some of his versed works, which is something appealing, as it does give you a glimpse of freedom in story-telling.

These poetic narratives; they feel very autonomous, like they write themselves, and you exist only to find the words. It is odd, but again, so much fun.

I plan of posting the Pre-Cantos and Cantos once they are finished individually, this beginning is specially hard, because it lays the path for everything else, but it should pick-up in pace soon enough.

Tell me what you think!, is this just another dumb exercise in misery?


JOHNNY

Thebian Dark (english poetry)

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(I work as a carpenter) — today, I was installing a smooth-stone tabletop and noticed that the colour and design of that stone was named “Thebes Black“. It is interesting what the mind can create when it takes a vision by the hand and sprints with it. Shortly after, during my lunchtime, I wrote this composition based on the name of that stone.

It wasn’t made with full-fledge, hence why it is much shorter that I would ideally make it, but I hope you enjoy it, even if just a bit. (perhaps just the smile of reading how it was inspired by such a mundane thing)


JOHNNY

Uneasy Romance with Mayhem (english poetry)

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Anyone attentive to my poetics will realise they have been quite volatile lately, becoming more robust and curated, and perhaps a bit more modernistic. Most of these, I wouldn’t truly call poems, but rather, short essays on sound. This one specifically attempts to melodiously replicate the abrupt awareness that waves with common anxiety.

I work hard to hone my ability to compose, and that also involves a lot of experimenting, along with poems that pave such progress. Right now, my topmost priority is to fabricate sound that can also be transmissible of emotion, a luxury I previously reserved to the verbal content of the composition.

This specific poem uses isolated sound shifts to pause realisation: (sinks!, sinks… sinks —) similarly to an “Oh!, Oh…” commonly used in general communication. Consonant repetition and syllabic cadence are also utilised to a more subtle degree. (also, some lousy enjambement in the second stanza, but I couldn’t fix it properly)

I’m hopeful that you don’t mind my silly experiments, and may continue this poetic quest with me. It can be a bit saturating, but necessary, nonetheless.


JOHNNY