I don’t always know how to write poetry; well, I do know how it is meant to be written, I just can’t say I know how to write it. Every time I write a poem, it feels like I’m learning to write poetry all over, and over, and over, stretching longitudinally like a row of trees lining an horizon, perpetually learning how to grow. Hence why, I believe, it is so difficult to publish something I’ve written; I essentially have no perception of my evolution, thus, I can’t really feel like I’ve evolved. I can objectively put a poem of mine from years ago and one that I’ve just written, and of course I prefer the latter, but merely because I am the latter presently, and I shall never again be the former nor feel it in the dimensions I felt it when it was penned. But this is a hurdle that extends to life, at least in some ways. We can say we have evolved, but it is hard to pinpoint the whys, the hows, the morphology we had and now have seem, at times, entirely disconnected, separate autonomous beings, and sighting ourselves in retrospect can often feel like seeing something entirely eldritch, the sun that warmed us then doesn’t feel like the same sun, the waters we bathe in don’t feel like the same waters, and there is this strange sentiment, like we are perpetually learning how to grow, how to do these same things in new ways, ways that match our new beings.
(Thank you for reading me, I know I’ve been diffuse lately, but even if I’m not great at this, I always try to give the best of myself that I have, and I’m incredibly grateful that you allow me that luxury)
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…
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.
Entre os átomos dos livros, a poeira dos dias, a fome de versar tão intensamente que as lágrimas me invadem os olhos, existe um sentimento cuja história da Arte Humana tende em replicar sempre com a mesma tristeza, com o mesmo olhar magoado: o abandono.
Os espaços, as pessoas, os animais, os sonhos e romances, todos ganham a fronte inversa aquando abandonados, não há onda maior de sofrimento, não há perda maior para o imponente Tempo, que a de se ser desertado.
É disso que nasce esta humilde composição, não tenho outro adjectivo para lhe entregar.
Custa um pouco publicar este poema, cuidem bem dele.