(Droplet) languorous pools

Palaios, Portugal, 2016

Monte Alerta (Monsaraz), at youngest night, a meticulously woven veil of darkness was cast upon those arid hills; Occupancy was scarce, and I’d taken a chance to flee my parents as they engaged in a fruitful political quarrel with our nearest tenants. I knew not the ways of the small garden, but I knew it to be vacant, as no silence quite as smothering could strap itself in a space where others would be present. Oh — and what a silence it’was; the world had gone mute, taken to a torpid physiognomy, and the contrast to such phase was my unrestful self, dauntingly expediting an oblivion of solitude, frigid, distant.
Next to a short enclave hosting a no-longer-functional fountain, laid a lamp hanged from a tangerine-tree branch (which, if one is familiar with such kind of tree, knows not to hang much from it, since its branches are among the frailest — still, the lamp stood quiet, ligher than the light by itself emitted). That lamp was, objectively, the only source of light in those gardens, with the only one closest being that sleeved beyond the room’s shutters. All living gravitated towards that lonesome lamp, and as moth to flame, so did I. Below it, a hammock laid beside a small tea-table made of iron with a layer of deep-green paint, and two chairs to match, one upon each side.
I laid in that hammock, energised by a warm dusk which no Moon came to haul; All within my sight was that lamp placed right above me, petrified, without that comfortable swivel we’ve come to know of objects so carelessly hung, as no breeze swept those moors, as none dared. In that orb of genuine yellow, I saw but the most impish critters attempting to reach it, feeding off its warmth, much as I did on a different scale.

“I’m not myself if not above or below me, enraged or dejected; in my habitual state, I ignore my existence.”

Emil Cioran, All Gall is Divided.

When space sumps into inexorable silence, a poet is robbed of lyricism; expression is no longer a front of waving beauty, but a howl lunged into warped dimensions of infinitude and fatalism. There was no rhyme under that lamp, no meter, no hope nor justice; there was blood shed from a flesh no longer in covenant with bone, beyond despair and pain, a loss so vast and an abandonment so cruel, that the most residual serenity could be projected upon that distortion, as does the light in-between those shutters. I chose my solitude, for in my mind, the rustle of my realms was sufficient sound and adequate melody; t’is when those realms are depleted and plunged into silence, that a soul screeches, blind and mute, in stumbling search for conformation, for a hand to secure reality when eyes no longer can.

I know how to call forth those moments so dear,
And to live my Past—laid on thy knees—once more,
For where should I seek for thy beauties but here
In thy languorous heart and thy body so pure?
I know how to call forth those moments so dear.”

Charles Boudelaire, The Balcony.

In those heath-lands of thorny silence, a mind, no matter how exurgent, is deconstructed. Without pylons to support its height, nor concepts to fuel its light, no mind lives; under that lamp and over that hammock, I was not above nor bellow myself, but at a centre where self was disintegrated by the very aperture which sees it, as an ant scorched by the focus of a magnifying glass. Then, I was reanimated, as my mind and self regained veritable shape through a chart of formalities, akin to a device being rebooted, and whilst so, a hallucination of thought elapsed:
My consciousness formed a boy in peasant garments, walking in swivels at the side of an asphalt road, the margins of which stood replete with verdant overgrowth — emerald, even, shining its dew after a sultry day; The ditch siding the path had collected water beyond capacity, and these long, languorous pools of water were formed, fully absent of stream or direction, tailored akin to large sheets of mirrored glass. The boy was too reduced to disturb them, and yet, two metres forward from his direction, the pools rippled; it was always catalysed by his walk, paced by his pace, no matter the speed of his march, the pools always rippled two metres beyond him, yet the air was as silent as that brought to the light of my own lamp. Frightened and confused, the boy quickened his step as to surpass the event, but to no avail, and the road itself stood infinite, a perfunctory stretch of scenery hollowing itself, empty until all limits of sight had been called — soulless, but still, undoubtedly living — and undemanding, as such stretch laid so serene, and yet, the rippling, tiny and unassuming, took all attention in its abnormality. The boy mustered a final sprint fueled by frustration, but was quick to lose balance and trip upon himself, falling to his knees, scraping them lightly, and in wake of his fall, specks of asphalt projected onto the pools, rippling them in a familiar pattern.
He wept with endearing gentility, as one does when purely alone, as he made his way along the stretch which had now taken a different shape — no more rippling, but vitality, swallows and songbirds, tall foliage and warmth, water rushing, hauling buoyant pine needles which soon collected around the drains. A serene world is not truthful to him; at least, if pain does not precede it. When such pain comes about, it is the lens from which we sight the beautiful fatality of chaos, and when such pain becomes abound, we are blinded by doubt and impermanence, which is woven into melody. No life exists before the pain, for such, to any living being, may only be a memory. While a boy (much to the likes of that rippling my thoughts), I knew to avoid nettles while I explored the rich lands in which I formed; I knew to avoid them not because I was warned, but from the moment they first caught me. With nearly somatic impulse, my awareness magnified the ground in which I stood, scanning for the pesky shrubbery whose painful sting is imprinted in my nerves. How many wonders have I lost in my obsessive quest to avoid them? How many sights, creatures, magnitudes? — in retrospective, it seems so small, and yet that demand of avoiding a pain which I knew, quickly became most what I could veritably know. That evisceration of quietude, of hours and days laid to waste while I forcibly replayed my failures as to not repeat them; the disappointments, doubts over such disappointments, and roots fanning into rich soil, draining all there is or could possibly have been, as a mind shuffles to sprint away from a daunting, voided future, only to bunt against a blurred past replete with memories of wakes and nettles, speared down in avoidance, anointed in sap and shame; what choice remains if not that of celebrating our ways.

Under that orb of light, perhaps, I pulled too much of what was laden; a sepulchre, decorated with plastic roses, is but my last vision of that night.

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(Memnos II) – A Silence In Which No One Sings

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        I’d like to think that, if you made it to this point, you hold the glory that my poem holds not, as you withstood it. I don’t particularly like anything I produce these days, but this one was a delicate endeavor to iron-out. Written over nearly two months, revised hundreds of times, wholesomely deleted in countless others, I don’t think any poem has ever caused me this amount of hardship in conception. Alas, I truly wanted to write another poem-of-memory, this turn related to my first youthful love and how I’ve felt about it hitherto.

        If you’re still with me, my gratitude is endless. I cannot fathom someone reading the entirety of this composition, but if you’ve liked even a portion of it, it would already allow worth into my strain, for which I would be unfathomably happy.


Johnny

(PS: The poem “Alto Como o Silêncio” is by Santomean poet Maria Manuela Margarido, which I translated for the purpose of citation; to my knowledge, there is no translated version of her works by a professional in such field)

A woman. (english poetry)

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a woman2


To my Grandmother; I’d wish to make something better for her, one day. But I’ve always been enchanted with her choice to stay, despite everything, she stays in her home, and intends to die there and nowhere else. That is a beauty I cannot yet capture.

But one day, Avó, one day.

She wasn’t taught to read nor write, so I know my greatest communication isn’t adequate for her. But, growing up by her side, I knew to communicate differently; with truly firm hugs, and the trémule of one’s voice, the pulse of a touch — all truly worth saying, dispenses words, as it lives above, purely in the senses.

She will never read my poems, but she knew them before anyone did. She knew them, even those I do not yet know.

JOHNNY

 

⌉|⌈ – 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

⌉|⌈ – 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 IV – Dead Narcissus (Prostagma)

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

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


JOHNNY

Canto III – Moratorium (Prostagma)

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Appendix A 1

Appendix A 2

 


I’ve since changed jobs and the novelty of adaptation is taking its toll. As such, I haven’t been able to write remotely as much as I’d wish. Canto III is a simple introduction into the first arc of the story, as well as ground-work to introduce Thanatos as a regular character (which will happen in the next Canto). This one isn’t all that great, truly, but my energy levels are scathing.

The Appendix is not a required read, but rather, a big edit of one of my many pages of conceptualisation for the story. The Battle of Kytinion was a central catalyst to the story, so its accounts will be many and varied throughout the epic; thus, Thanatos account is facultative; but since I’m currently building his parsonage, I’d figure this was an interesting and fun opportunity to write as he would.

I will post other Appendix throughout the Cantos, as I’m awful at drawing, and showing you nice visuals of these events (that I do have in my mind), is outside my reach. As such, I’m bound to conceptualise through words, and appendixes are the only mediums for that.

Disclaimer: Canto III holds many references to Max Richter’s oeuvre, including “Catalogue of Afternoons” and “On The Nature of Daylight“. Appendix A contains some references to modern musician Bon Iver, with “Moon-Water” and “Caught in Daylight” being the most prominent. 

Thank you much, for reading me.


JOHNNY

Sola Fide, Semper Fide (english poetry)

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Another (Sinelos) composition, as they are all I can write start-to-finish, these days. Roughly 1,300 men died building the Palace of Mafra, at the Time, a Convent and not a Palace. I thought it would be interesting to write something about it, as we do not know who they were, but we do know what they died for. A brief disclaimer: this poem does not quest to heat-seek why people believe, but rather, how they rationalised those beliefs, and how they served (and still serve) as firm utilities to dismiss very human emotions. Constructions, either metaphysical (Absolutes) or physical (A Convent), are not worthier arbiters of our lives than we are.

If you disagree, that is great! Let me know, as my thoughts may be (and probably are) incomplete, and I might come to agree with a firm argument. To live, is to learn.


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