I could probably write as many poems of anxiety as there are poems of anxiety left to be written, or, better yet, I could likely claim that every poem I have is, at least partially, a poem of anxiety. I’ve also resigned to my dread of giving titles to compositions; unless they come naturally to me while conceiving a poem (or, in other words, before I’ve written said poem) I never feel as if my titles are adequate in approximation. So, I suppose I’ll be a titular minimalist, see if it suits me, perhaps it might.
If you, too, suffer from this ailment (which in this modern world of ours, seems inextricably woven into our fabric of being), I can’t provide a pyre or tell you that you’re not alone; you are not alone, but our caltrops of loneliness are not ones we can dodge merely equipped with the knowledge of companionship, but one we can bear the pains of by cultivating a veritable motion of hearing, of communicating individually, within and without. We are not alone in others, we are alone within ourselves; the only pyre, the only voice which is worthwhile in exiting that artificial solitude, is your own within yourself, and if it stands sincere and kind, it shall too reverberate in others, which shall return the same measure of sincerity and kindness; if not, they are undeserving of your pain, and you still hold yourself firm. This is, of course, my experience.
My communications are always open if (hopefully exempt of vaticination) those pestiferous ghosts of anxiety come to plague you. I will help as I best I can.
the days without anyone impish notes scrawled quickly crumpled in our fingers
the honeysuckle was beautiful rising through the night of forsaken residence
exact stones scented dusts fireflies napping in the flexibility of clay sands covered of insects bones and teeth and the river hauling weary nights
luminous inflorescence acid moons crumbling fissures of earth coastline cities birds fragile paths in open flight during the tremendous lucidity of dreaming
I’m left with halls of glass where I drown the calcined remains of body I open the door leading to my visage descend the mossy steps of the yard cross the masonry garden where I lived the entire time before I hurried “Days Without Anyone” – Al Berto
Landlocked mid poetic subject and poet, mid experience and body, mid reality and the act of writing, lies an indubitable reflective surface lightly swiveling as the halo of a flame. Mário Lugarinho illustrated Al Berto “between the poetic and the experimented, installed as a bridge — the mirror itself, recurrent metaphor in his oeuvre. Between poetry and experience, the subject, incontestable mediator between the real and the written and establishing between them the flagrant coincidence.” In a sensory blossoming of ontological experience, Al Berto carries the brutalism of existence as one does scars in one’s own body, exhibiting those elements of suffering with timid thrusts while words cannibalise their own element of sincerity. The body, in his poems, rises as a monolith of subjectivity laved in the hemorrhage of experience; it is cumbrous with sensuality, hatred, speech, infancy, shards of things-in-themselves in a scenery of mournful abandonment:
I sleep within a disheveled body fear encroaches the somber hall I find a water scintillating in plaster a scar of mossy crystals opens porous to my touch, indicating there shall be no forgetting or breeze to clean the immemorial time of this home
of this simulated sleep, it left but bitter iodine the waxed woods covered in dust dried herbs in rain sheafs of rosemary, jonquils, snapdragons, campions, clover yet no escape has been restarted my infancy remains sad where I abandoned it nearly does not live yet I still hear it breathing within me.
now all is different I restart life from the emptiness of dark days in silence in-between skin and a beam of magnificent veins I feel the bird of age dragging its wings
where it develops a calm lunar flight
I enumerate objects thoroughly, classifying them by sizes and textures, by functions I want to leave everything tidy when madness comes from the sharpened extremity of my winged body and my face is intruded by a shard of wing
so shall life collapse unto a sheet of paper where verse by verse I illuminate and wear myself out.
“Vigílias” – Al Berto
The stark provocation of image — which binds itself both cruel and ethereal in a procession of memory — is not merely symbol, but a counterpoint to denotation; the wound is palpable, as each verse widens its longitude with unstinting force where the absence of breath is not merely a quality of form but a proxy to restlessness. A frondsome garden is thus woven and hydrated in white obscurity: reality is held in a crystalline distance, writing cannot approximate it, regardless of eloquence, of thought, of philosophies, we lie in open sight and sketch an estimated geography, and, from time-to-time, an embodiment of placid light befalls our lips and we are disfigured by castrated toponymies; our place in the universal lie unfurls. Al Berto carries out his death in poem successively, both the wanting of his death and the pestilent, modern malaise of the death of wanting, inherited from a legacy of weighted dichotomies and promises–too long has the poet promised, too epic was the oneiric journey of poetics, too arduous the return. Thus, his poetry is a summon for a corpse, the buoyant corpse of his infantile yearn, the mossy corpse of his lyrical dreams, the winged corpse of his light, yet merely a corpse: the gallows of his life plaintively whistle within, and in reality lies a frigid inheritance of death. Our body, lush with herbs and snapdragons and rosemary positioned as a reflective vessel of both, a world of unbearable cruelty made of particles and waves of synthesized beauty. There is, yet, an ethereal release from anguish in his mirror of corpses that, even if still anguished, serves to lighten the breath:
I write to you feeling all of this and in an instance of lucidity I could be the river the goats shrouding the tinkle of sleigh-bells in the silver crystals of a photograph I could rise as the chestnut-tree of those tales whispered by a fire and wander, trembling with the birds or accompany the sulfuric butterfly revealed by humid lips I could mimic that shepherd or mistake myself for the dream of a city which little by little bites its own immobility
I inhabit this world of water by error I’m required radio-graphic images of bones unfocused faces hands on bodies printed in paper and mirrors notice I have nothing else if not this note stained with fine arils of pomegranate I sent today notice how a heart of paper is yellowed by the forgetfulness of loving you.
“Trabalhos do Olhar” – Al Berto
Passion, even in passing, is an effusing stroke, and a world perhaps collapsed is reshaped (albeit perfunctorily) only to support that florescence, as loving is the most human of all Arts, notice we have nothing else.
My mother worries about me, as one tends to. I can’t really write much to soothe her (and I have tried), so I wrote this one, quite a while ago, to soothe myself. It was translated from Portuguese, and it is quite old, but I have some strange affection for it. It truly does soothe me.
(I shall craft some more compositions soon, but I’m having some trouble writing in English; something about it always feels artificial to me. Perhaps it is the artifice of translating emotions.)
Endless gratitude to anyone that still manages to find energy to read me!
The voices of the world becoming quieter and fewer.
Kafka, October 21 of 1917 – “In Sunshine”, The Third Octavo Notebook.
Every action of scrawling begins with fossicking old dusts in search of eventful shapes, harnessing memory as a mass of particles brought alight; cold fountains dance, pellucid, in a constellation of footfalls, and a blond-featured priest halts the litany, displaying the grimace of revolt, placing a tome of interrogations over the a vine-perfused lectern, passing his tongue over the thumb, and falling silent; indolence befalls substance. Every memory is a phantom of sensation, a tender ogive of contingency launched to annihilate the fabrication of a transmissible instinct, remembering drops of oil distilled from silence and density, a black orb siphoning air, zest, faces, skins — the page is famished, and tinted of ghost. In the hunting grounds of Memnosyne, man is prey and prayer. Our meat is glazed in agonic shouts, our skin, scented of sanctity, towards which the hunters coil in disgust; vipers, red vipers, snip at our ankles. My head is a catalogue of agonies and heavens, of pains and heavenly hours, painful hours in heaven, heavens within painful hours, and the surreal commune of figures therein: cicadas and silence, mango foam and silence, heaviness, milk, laughter. Self — resuming the balance of plates — lies unrevealed, and a poem threads the stumbling cord held just above the floor in search of light and contour; fruitless. Memories are burnished pebbles in a rusted sieve, as ineluctable as they are indelible, and contain no glimmer further than that of any sedimentary measure of pain or minimal relief; ages, alone, transfigure them into pearls in shape of traumas, individuations and statuettes of peace, which we paint with garish colours as to dilute their stillness. A poem is an instrument that translates the silence of all, into sound; fruitful. The poem now remembers, as prey and prayer. We can rest.
Listen, my child, the silence. It is a rippled silence, the silence whence vales and echoes slither, and that turns faces to the ground.
Luís Carlos Patraquimlives, but I read him as if he never lived. When I cogitate of his life, I sight odd coppery faces and calcined terrains, the hollowing of plasters in the decrepit walls and fences of Lourenço Marques, a sublimation spawning the vividness of Mozambique in memory, a Mozambique that can only wound memory akin to the rattling of trains; we primp the man, he has no pulse, but acacias bloom and fade within; we primp the man which primps itself by his own labour, and a parsonage remains, history, a seamless image. The image-of-man is defenseless, exists only in exposition, in row with other images inasmuch as one cannot probe the colour of irises, begginings of laughter or threads, one cannot see sortileges that aren’t extenuatingly pestiferous, nor loves without the clatter of taking steps with a shattered heart; nothing lives in these men, nor is there will to give them such textures, as we are not soothed by seeing such images as articulated flesh, we do not care for the mensuration of their days, or the instances of vitreous fear for time: a first kiss, a first flight, the ontology of a motherly caress, or the satin fever of nights. There is so much to being, so much that refuses to be transfigured in narrative movements, so much matter centred in itself, held in a tattered cloth which is twisted, and twisted, twisted tirelessly for some droplets of varnish. In my manufacture of symbols, I see swollen ossuaries, bronze wheat-ears and cans of castor-oil, and there, I see Patraquim, scanning the acacia’s thirsty leaves. I see him distantly, cindery, as an ornament of my youth when I would grip any poem whose language allowed for my understanding, before I balanced myself with the rabble of cities, before I was an image-of-man; that, perhaps, goes mostly unspoken. Some speak of machinery, filters and filtering, of means and censorship, vilifying aesthetics and the gelid action of refining a countenance, some speak of calculating innocuous improbabilities while calculating the probability of being understood. Lesser, it seems, speak of the editing of people, of the being made, created and formed by fictions, and I can say without contesting that I know more of those that never lived than I do those that live; I know myself more in the I which never lived, the I in constant persiflage towards improbabilities, the I in a barrage of dreams and quests and pretensions tinted of the same coppery faces, engineered by books and almond-trees, seeing in them a more veritable texture than in the spent colours my eyes still receive. Patraquim, the image-of-man, gushes in me those droplets of varnish — as if my image-of-man took form of an ewer — and so gushes Stevens, bleeds Hatherly and Sebald, gushes the lad from the subway that crossed my eyes and timidly retracted his own, and I gush, outside, within, impish droplets that inflame me, small blades from a barbershop, small threads of faces petrifying slowly beneath the stepping noises. Is there an autochthonous child, a storm’s prelude, a fleeting seagull that can cast a linen string over men and images-of-men, a life-saver that rescues them as they were, before they were images of lives? If there is, I fear that remembering that nude version of being may be more maddening than swallowing mercury.
(…) And your silence, your silence, where they bloom, bloodied, the acacias of Lidemburg Street and Lagos shivers in blue and spawns a styled solitude and a bull which recoils in the labyrinth of an inflamed aorta,
your mouth, your mouth and your silence and no longer the inquiry, none, and your wonderment and that of stars, lightly the torpid mist submerging your profile,
in the afternoon where I thread, and the stone registered in a snowing sun.
Luís Carlos Patraquim in “O Círculo”
Lúis Carlos Patraquim vive, mas leio-o como se jamais tivesse vivido. Quando cogito que lá terá vivido, vejo semblantes de estanho e terra calcinada, o escorchar do reboco lá nos muros e nas grades de Lourenço Marques, uma sublimação que engendra as forças de Moçambique na memória, um Moçambique que apenas fere a memória como o estertor dos comboios; ataviamos o homem, não tem pulso, tem acácias florindo e morrendo, ataviamos o homem que a si próprio se atavia em seu labor, e resta-nos personagem, história, uma imagem inconsútil. O homem-imagem é inerme, existe apenas numa exposição, a renque com tantos outros, e não se dedilham cores de olhos, príncipios de risos ou traços, não se vêm sortilégios sem os mesmos serem extenuantemente pestíferos, nem amores sem o ruído acutilante dum coração em cacos; não há nada de vivo nestes homens, nem há vontade de lhes dar essa textura, não nos afaga saber dessas imagens como carne articulada, não nos interessa a mensuração dos seus dias, das instâncias de medo envidraçadas p’lo tempo: o primeiro beijo, o primeiro voo, a ontologia do desvelo materno, a febre acetinada das noites. Há tanto em ser, e tanto que não se transfigura em momentos narrativos, tanta matéria ensimesmada num trapo velho, que é torcido e torcido, torcido infindávelmente por umas quantas gotas de lacre. Na minha manufactura de símbolos, vejo os ossuários entúmidos, espigas de bronze e nas latas de rícino, e existe Patraquim, a perscrutar a sede das acácias. Vejo-o na distância, cendrado, como um ornamento da minha juventude em que perfilhava qualquer poesia cuja língua me permitia que a lesse, antes de me sopesar na turba das cidades, antes de ser homem-imagem; disso, talvez, poucos falam. Falam da maquinaria, dos filtros e filtragens, dos meios e da censura, aviltam a estética e a forma gélida de editar o rosto, falam-nos do cálculo das improbabilidades inócuas, calculando a probabilidade de os enterdermos. Menos falam da edição das gentes, do humano crescido, criado, formado pela ficção, e posso dizer sem barganha que sei mais dos que jamais viveram do que sei dos que estão vivos; e sei-me mais no eu que jamais vivera, eu no chorrilho dessas improbabilidades, eu na torrente de sonhos e demandas e pretensões pintadas de cobre, um eu engendrado por livros e amendoeiras, vendo-lhes uma textura de realidade mais sincera que as cores exauridas p’los meus olhos. O homem-imagem de Patraquim jorra em mim as gotas de lacre — como se o homem-imagem que sou fosse em forma de caneco — e jorra Stevens, sangra Hatherly e Sebald, jorra o miúdo do metro que se acanha por me cruzar o olhar, jorro eu, lá fora, cá dentro, pequenas gotas que me inflamam, pequenas lâminas de barbeiro, pequenas linhas de rosto que se petrificam lentamente ao passo dos ruídos. Haverá uma criança autóctone, um prelúdio de tempestade, uma gaivota fugitiva, que lança sobre as gentes e imagens de gentes um cordão de linho, um salva-vidas, que as salve como elas eram, antes de serem fotografias de vidas? Se haverá, temo que rememorar essa versão nua seja mais enlouquecedor que beber mercúrio…
(…) E o teu silêncio, o teu silêncio, onde florescem, sangrentas, as acácias da Rua de Lidemburgo e Lagos estremece em azul e punge uma solidão ática e um boi se recolhe no labirinto da aorta que infla,
A boca, a tua boca e o teu silêncio e não mais a pergunta, nenhuma, e o teu pasmo e o das estrelas, ao de leve a cacimba lenta submergindo-te o rosto,
pela tarde onde caminho, e a pedra se inscreve no sol que neva.
Saint-Saëns — my father still says — was garniture for fatuous men and their gold-laden alcoves, veiled by a cordon of ludic dins; Milosz was flour of similar grain, a bargainer of truisms, a mute chaff coated by wooden beads. I liked them, I liked their touch, their texture, I see it as the texture of heavy rubber boots threading a pavement composed by shards of glass. There is a pearlescent quality to all humble objects of life, a glimmer of sorts, and all sorts of glimmer, as that of dew wept from acanthus leaves, the unstinting mist out of every breath in every wintry dawn, in the fox’s scan over the woodland; all which transiently shines akin to gold, without a droplet of pretension for being so. That is the unbridled beauty that exsanguinates the heart, the ars poetica of our ending realm, which labours yearningly under a sun to sun merely to purport effortlessness. The levity of the natural mechanism is shouldered by an indelible effort.
Many suns ago (yet still, fewer so), I would commonly peer with hyaline gaze at a poplar whose branches had grown near my window. A warbler would come by, and I wanted to be an author, unknown to mensuration, unknown to corrals, shrouded from torpor and hypostasis, and I wanted my book in shape of that warbler, free from the lassitude of grounds, even free of words — no, no words, merely feathers, some cinereal, some of torrid yellow, few to blend the hues — and no bindings, only a pair of immovable black marbles, no strings nor vaticinations. Perhaps it would peck at the temples, and serve only as a petty victory to the one that manages to clumsily open the blinds and defenestrate it. And, as the warbler took to wind and with wind flew, I had little victory of my own. Returned to the tendance of humble glistens, I’m my own earthly man, my own end of the world, exulted by fibres of glass sticking to my knees, envious of my own fullness, enamoured by the perfunctory scope of my agonies; returned to the tendance of this world which ends while it faintly glistens. I’m the garniture of higher men, the gold-tint of their cordons of fools, the torrent of circumlocutory pleas, and nothing nearly as unworthy as to be written, nothing nearly as light as I’d have it be, like the warbler and his poplar tree.
On the day the world ends A bee circles a clover, A fisherman mends a glimmering net. (…) And those who expected lightning and thunder are disappointed. And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps Do not believe it is happening now. As long as the sun and the moon are above, As long as the bumblebee visits the rose, As long as rosy infants are born No one believes it is happening now. (…)
Czeslaw Milosz, A Song On The End of The World, Warsaw, 1944
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.
(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)
I was vanished; A most egotistical subterfuge, but naught without its proper cost. Approaching my date of birth by last December, I suffered a massive plunge in my mental integrity, followed by some level of tragedy, anguish, and some sparse instances of recuperation. This is most common to me since my early childhood, yet, still incredibly difficult to pull through. I am yet to fully pull through…
I cannot outwardly write in such deep chasms of self, and my emotional sensibility becomes convoluted, nearly surrealistic, without a geometric nor organic form, which is a common symptom of a hindered artistic performance. Some find beauty in that hindrance, and to some degree, so do I; It is different, however, when one is the recipient of such chaos. To augment a fragmented emotional self is a perilous task, as it differs from the plenitude of wholesome transmission — where the emotion is left in the rear-view mirror — and instead magnifies the locations of shattering.
Although I may not claim to be as rejuvenated as I would like, I still very much miss this sumptuous community of poets which I adore so dearly, and counted each second to return; For now, I will publish only small and unambitious inklings of poetry that I shape from memories of my childhood, as the one displayed above, as to ease myself into descriptive views and then transition into the emboss of emotional production once I am more prepared to do so.
But I’ve missed this so much; I didn’t think I would be as happy as I am now, but it truly bathes me with joy…
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.
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.