inhabit


This is wholly unintelligible and I do apologise, but I’m at a point in which trying to curate a thought ends up harming more than helping when it comes to composing. I don’t know what path to take besides continuing writing and hoping the problem sorts itself out before long.

Thank you (and sorry) for reading,
João-Maria.

on Gauguin

Nature morte au profil de Laval, Paul Gauguin, 1886

I recently joined a Portuguese e-publication where I must compose a poem weekly, and my self-proposed theme was to translate paintings that I favoured throughout my life, which, knowing myself, is a monumental task. I’m not a visual creator in the slightest, but am instead wholesomely auditive; I suffered of poor eyesight from early age, but was only treated much later, already in early adolescence. This generated an imbalance in how I most confidently translate the stimuli I receive from the world; my trust always falls, firstly, in what I hear, and not in what I see.

I’ve always been incredibly fond of visual arts, and I ache to develop a veritable visual mythology to guide my creative endeavours. This project is one such exercise I hope may help in that task, and this second composition (the first was on Munch’s Sun), even in translation, is already roughly contoured by my visual weaknesses. Hopefully, they become better as I write more of them.

Still Life with Profile of Laval has always been a painting of great intrigue to me; the deformity of Gauguin’s sculpted jug, tactically placed behind the assortment of fruits, immediately inspired the unbecoming of the latter; that is the inevitable disfigurement — the perishing — which Laval seems to gaze at in stolid anticipation. The vividness of the objects and, in contrast, the smokey dullness of every other element in the painting (including Laval himself), seemingly translates two aesthetic tempos in a single stage: there isn’t so much a dichotomy of being/not-being, but one of being/waiting-to-no-longer-be; a slow and dormant corrosion. Gauguin’s signature diagonal strokes, which I call his texture of dissipation, add the final weight to what is, in my view, a beacon of painted brilliance.

I truly hope you’re well, and thank you,
João-Maria.

maundering relics #1


Before the world spun suddenly into this crucible of fear and solitude we identify today, I had plans of collecting forgotten relics of the Portuguese written arts. Lisbon is thronged with “alfarrabistas“, stores with the unique purpose of selling rare and used books, many of them bought in bulk from personal libraries found by folks once they lay their relatives to rest. These libraries often contain, besides various editions of World Literature classics (your common James Joyce “Ulysses” and Leo Tolstoy “War and Peace“), an even more interesting assortment of gifted-re-gifted books that bounce from generations without much thought to their existence. They are to bookshelves what pebbles are to beaches; but I’ve always taken a special interest in these books. Unfortunately, I was only able to find two before the entire globe crashed atop itself:


Encontro (Poemas D’Amor)
Albino Fernandes de Sá

The inscription in the second image reads:
Ao sempre querido e inesquecível amigo Hélio, a quem este livro deve, em grande parte, o seu aparecimento, com um almoço de eterna gratidão, oferece:
O autor Albino Fernandes de Sá

Translated:
“To my ever sweet and unforgettable friend Hélio, to which this book owns, in large part, its existence, I offer, along with a lunch of eternal gratitude: Encounter (Love Poems).
The author, Albino Fernandes de Sá”


It’s rare to find a book of limited printing, especially one such as “Encontro“, which was printed in 1954, fourty-one years prior to my birth; but rarest still, it seems, is to find one such book that was gifted by the author himself to the friend that inspired it. One is often given to reflections regarding the loss of being, that shedding, and concomitantly, where the scales of our shedding might lie; foundered in some sea-floor, rived by caracoles and barnacles, or earth-bitten under metres of soil, near a tall building or pile of rubble. None of us hold much of a clue regarding the destination of our droplets, our scales, our shards that stamp upon things our sole impression of what they are.
Not much can be found regarding Albino Fernandes de Sá. Some registries of old, lost publications, indicate that he might have published, in collaboration, a series of treatises and short anthropological works regarding the old Portuguese-African colonies. Bibliographic guides have cited Governador da Hulía, a book he wrote apropos the ever-shifting political powers in the region of Hulía, Angola, is one such example (though most documents I’ve found cite this as a reference to Mozambique and not Angola, and the reason for such has eluded me thus far).
Fernandes de Sá, however, was not a colonial native. By reading poems in “Encontro“, I rapidly gathered his place of birth to be Barcelos, in the Northern Portuguese region of Minho. It’s likely that he wasn’t from the city itself, since he mentions a village in the poem “A minha aldeia“, and later the river Neiva, in the aptly named poem “O Neiva“.

River Neiva, by Jaime Pereira in Olhares

Encontro” chronicles, in punctilious detail, the entire life of Fernandes de Sá. It delineates his birthplace and parents, his favourite flowers as a child, his journeys to the coast and first sight of sea, his first voyage to the colonies, his upbringing with his “bark-haired” loving sister, his first love, marriage, first daughter and son. The hymeneal bliss in which he found himself, as if citterns played everywhere, buoyant as bubbles along the smoothest whiff of air, plays a coronary role in this book. Fernandes de Sá wrote of it all in a-hundred-and-fifty sonnets, which are, thus far, the only creative publication I’ve found under his name; even then, “Encontro” was a personal publication. It never had a commercial form nor was it ever available beyond the copies requested by the author. I haven’t, however, found any other extant copy of the book, either for sale or under private hands. The last record of Fernandes de Sá publicly available was a print of his presence in a literary gathering in Sá da Bandeira (present-day Lubango), dated 1963. I found no evidence of living descendants ever returning to Portugal, but it is indubitable that they exist, albeit perhaps disconnected from the written aspect of Fernandes de Sá‘s life. This leads me to the rather feeble conclusion that this book I currently hold is, with a strong chance, the last remnant of Albino’s personal writings, and that it likely came from the private library of Hélio himself, the friend that inspired its creation.


The Neiva

Nature has its lovers,
that charged with affection, with sugar,
she, sometimes, employs in the making
of vistas glazed in a thousand colours!

Radiated by auroral showers,
it slithers through the moss-green web
of the view, beaming with freshness,
from Antas, the Neiva, lined in flowers.

It seems like a mirror of luminous crystal,
in which my sumptuous village sights
its own profile of emerald and sapphire.

Since my youth I returned its ardent love.
I figure that within my blood runs the dew
that flows in my sweet and beautiful Neiva.

A dream that has not died

A dream that has not died: my Angola.
Since youth, I wanted to give it my life.
It smiled, fair and colourful,
like to the sun smiles a corolla.

Its voice was a coo of a dove
that between the boughs sings invitingly.
I made her my bride, my most wanted,
and she, in sadness, consoled me.

I loved her with passion; in her, my dreams
of love and beauty came to find
warmth and home to live happily.

I then decided to give her my vigour,
my life, my blood and my love,
all of which, far from her, would die.

(Note: these translations are not entirely faithful to the original metric and scheme of the poems, since most of them are written in a form of Portuguese already adapted to sonorific effects; these translations merely intend to mimic the original sentiment of the text)


Those scales — shards of impression — may fall anywhere indeed. It’s uncertain to me if “Encontro” was first produced in Angola, though the date of its publication and the last record of Albino both congruently indicate that it was written and printed there, in Sá da Bandeira, mid-twentieth century. I know not who carried it to Portugal, where it was kept or how long it percolated, from a hand to another, until it was drowned beneath multitudinous old books on the most varied subjects, and lastly, picked up by me, likely due to my profound weakness regarding the shaded outline of spring swallows. Every attempt I make at alchemising a possible story sounds overly poetical and contrasts with my knowledge of this world. This now lonely, diseased, and at times, unbearably real world. What I know is that the words of Fernandes de Sá have found another “encounter” in their subtle existence, and that, at least for now, they have another home in which to perdure, another memory to cling to.


The other book, “Lucilações” by Telémaco Augusto Santana, shares many elements with this one, but has many more elements unique to itself; sadly, in fear of making this post any denser, I will publish it at a later date, but as soon as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this brief journey into the oblivion of words; I have more planned, hopefully, if and when things resume to themselves. I would also like to deepen the prose of these voyages; unfortunately with the case of Fernandes de Sá, I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable of Northern Portugal, nor have I ever visited Angola (only Mozambique and South Africa).

Thank you for reading, as always!,
João-Maria.

there’s a kingdom of voices


(I’m going to start publishing some “humbler” poems I have stored and continually write; although I’m quite demanding of, if not the quality of the poetics themselves, at least the attempted quality of the posts, as well as their parsimony, I realise that I’ve become quite obsessive with it, which ebbs against me rather than flow in my benefit. There’s no use in being associated with just density, just longevity, or even just the maximum of what I can provide, if that comes at the cost of the development of veritable writing versatility. Some will indubitably be worse than others, and I still prefer my denser, longer works, if not just because I truly lucubrate over those extensively, but I hold the belief that all of creative work — mine or yours — has a tangible intrinsic worth; perhaps not to all, but it does to me. One ought to practice what one preaches.)

Thank you tons, you guys,
João-Maria.

(Also, a huge thank you to Sapna, and the power-double from StarTwo [visual artists and storytellers with such enviable skills, one would be tempted to steal their hands], for nominating me for awards; I don’t reply solely because I have a golden rule of only creating literary-themed posts and none other, otherwise this blog would be a flurry of piano album reviews and tributes to deciduous trees, but I truly, deeply appreciate you guys remembering me; if I did awards, I surely wouldn’t forget you either)

(And a monumental bow to Kaiter, for including me in his circulars whenever my work passes the readable threshold; to be included is — if one is attentive to his beautiful talents, rectitude and rigour — beyond any word that synonyms incredible, and I’m tremendously grateful. If anything, I’m already immensely grateful that I get to enjoy the other contents in his blog and circulars, whose eminent taste I’d recommend to anyone who’d enjoy a step above my own works.)

katabasis

Ivan Marchuk, Moonlit Night 1882


Ivan Marchuk

These days, to write feels almost strange, almost selfish. Torrents of flurries of anxieties ignite the nerves, and one feels leeched before the first phrase forms. Solitude outcasts the voices — depersonalises — and what once was an interaction of linings, echoes of a singular voice with many textures, seems now like a procession of isolated galleys. There is no dismissing of these voices, they haul the murderers, the mercenaries of our creative constructs. A succession of disasters that reshape, with the tools of torture, a disjointed spectre of reality, one that bounces only from itself, and is only madness.

I’m sorry, father. I miss you.

(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

mum is a leopard (english poetry)


If anyone has been reading me for over a year, you might have detected that the structure of this poem draws much from my older English compositions, such as Emerald Cage and Low Poetics. I wanted to design something that returned to that a bit, and simultaneously, I wanted to write as if I was a child looking at a blossom. I’m not certain I achieved either of those, but there was an intention.

The Lispector’s Egg reference pertains to Clarice Lispector‘s The Egg and the Chicken, a small story that is truly indescribable, much to the likes of all of Lispector’s works. I started reading Lispector when I was very young, and when my mother is sad, she always reminds me of Clarice, a sort of saturnine ethereal being locked to mortality, a misplacement, an injustice of some mystical kind. I believe there is an easily accessible translation of the short-story somewhere online, and I urge you with utmost potency to find it and give it a read.

There is also this beautiful piano-electronic album I’ve been bewitched by, Moon Ate the Dark, which is surprisingly serene yet inspiring and cumbrous. If you like mellow instrumentals, especially for reading or writing, give it a chance.

As usual, a thousand thanks,
João-Maria.

emperor julian’s bandana (english poetry)


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)

João-Maria

I translated some poems from Iberian authors

Image result for mário sá-carneiro
Mário de Sá-Carneiro

FALSE STATUE

Only in false gold have my eyes shimmered;
I’m a sphynx without mystery at sight.
The sadness of things that never happened
descend in my soul as a veiled light.

In my pain, craving swords are broken,
illuminated arrows blend with dark.
The shades flowing from me are torn apart,
as with yesterday, to me, today is forsaken.

I quiver no longer in face of secrecy;
Nothing torments me, not even gore:
Life flows through me like a war,
Without a single breath of fear!

I’m a drunken star who lost its skies,
a maddened mermaid who left the sea;
A godless temple crumbling to its lies,
A false statue still held highly.

Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Paris, 5 of May of 1913


MERCEDES IN HER FLIGHT

A gelid and upright guitar
is what you are in rocks of height.
A throatless voice, a dark voice sounding
everything without sounding anything.

Your thoughts are snow slipped
by the infinite glory of whiteness.
Your profile a perennial burn,
your heart a freed dove.

Sing, sing in the freedom of air,
that fragrant dawning melody,
mound of light and wound of lily.

So that we, down here, day and night
shall make in the corners of sadness
a garland of melancholy.

Federico García Lorca


55, Rain Passage

«In each raindrop my failed life cries within nature. There is something in my drop-by-drop disquiet, in the downpour-to-downpour with which the sadness of a day unbecomes uselessly over the earth.
It rains heavily, so heavily. My soul is humid just by hearing it. So heavily… My flesh is liquid and aqueous wrapping around my sensation of it.
A restless cold places those frigid hands around my poor heart. The grey hours stretch out, flatten themselves upon time; the moments drag out.
How it rains!
The gutters spit out scant torrents of water always suddenly. Slithers through my knowledge that there are pipes with an unsettling noise of down-spurt. Rain bangs against the glass, indolent, moaning.

A cold hand grips my throat and impedes me from breathing life.
Everything dies within me, even the knowledge that I can dream! In no physical sense am I fine. Every softness in which I recline has edges for my soul. All eyes I look upon are so dim after this indigent daylight breaks onto them so it can die without pain.»

Fernando Pessoa (through Bernardo Soares), 1914(?) in Book of Disquiet


156

«What imprecise queen holds near her lakes the memory of my broken life? I was the pageboy of promenades too insufficient to the aerial hours of my blue stillness. Distant ships completed the sea by waving over my terraces, and in southern clouds I lost my soul, like a dropped paddle.»

Fernando Pessoa (through Bernardo Soares), 1918(?), in Book of Disquiet


João-Maria

(Droplet) making life, or not quite that.

Ubud, by Nikki Lake

I tend to write too much. Recently, I’ve perscrutated some of my older documents, hundreds of pages of unfinished poems and texts, unnamed corpses with maggots glowing with auroral colours, some contained beautiful ideas done poorly, others were armed with beautiful constructions enveloping poor ideas, and I only gained a real sense of how much I write when I saw at them, all those fragile creatures and growing things. I seem to write nearly out of habit, like everything spoke to me with some unbearable silence that I’m encumbered with deciphering.
Poetry was never forefront in my productions, and I started composing for the bounds and restrictions; the parsimonious quality words attain, that bug of shortening and condensing, it helps me quiet down. What I want, still, is to write a novel, but I find it to be a tortuous exercise at times: I write walls, I water every minute aspect of my realms, and I can’t truly shake the sensation that I write too extensively, too strenuously, almost too delicately, thus, I never truly started a novel, despite my monumental amount of inklings here and there, small blossoms of lemon thyme. I’ve never given up on training, though, if I might someday take hand at a task I’m likely to fail at, I must at least take solace in my trials, in my tiny evolutions. I’ve been looming three separate documents for a while: Echolocations, so I can train on shortening and sharpening my descriptions of places, mostly exteriors (interiors are rather easy to pen, since personal items carry symbols, they are purposeful, they can be calculated); Melisma, where I practice my precision on collective events or passages with movement and vibrancy, mostly describing isolated scenes that require further aid; and Restoration of a River, a small narrative development where I further my creation of characters.

This latter one, however, proves to be the most arduous, for a great dichotomy plagues it like a pestilential locust: human beings are beautifully woven, fluid and frail things, and one can’t help painting them with as much brushes as it lays possible; we, as their creators, see them so sharply and care for them so limpidly, it feels criminal to let them go misunderstood, but, being misunderstood is one of the humanest things we all experience, and we rob them of their humanity if we rob them of that. A conundrum indeed, and in ambiguous instances like these, where I must weigh the exact measure of my control, are the ones where I often lose it entirely.


Grant, which had not ignored the look completely, found it too fatuous to warrant intervention, but that sensation of idleness circled his thoughts and held them captive. «Maybe I should have said something,», he thought, both infuriated that he didn’t and regretful that the chance had escaped his grip, «but surely, if I paint him correctly as someone who does and says for score, another opportunity shall arise for me to muzzle him» and with this thought, he entombed that haunting sensation. Grant was more of a yew than a human; incredibly tall and wide, if one was to stand as close as a metre, he would nearly fill horizon to horizon; this physical attribute, coupled with a pointed sense of his surroundings and those who occupied them, coadunated into a form of distant sentinel, and one couldn’t help but feel as immensely aware of him as he was of everything. His eye, for how incisive it tended to be, often led him into the wildest hunts of imagination, and after leaving with Louisa and Payne in search of his stick, his thoughts slithered into the knots of every trunk, the silky lips of the rivulet whispering the spirit of mint, an odd cawing here and there of a bird he couldn’t quite identify but that reminded him of his sylvan childhood, how green things seemed back then; and then his mother, her pallid skin so similar to the birch bark, and a smile which, much like him, seemed to fill horizon to horizon whenever he arrived home, and so he kept busy with details, never idle and never restless, but a median of dream he came to master.

Restoration of a River


Harder still than ebbing between the voice we allow them and the voice we take from them is perhaps the osmosis of interaction. In our quotidian, it is rather easy to spot how often we abnegate shards of our expression so others can express, how often we judge how much to abnegate in order to enrich our relationships, enrich our own expressions and projections of selves; how much of us exists in this world tends to consist mostly of what of ourselves is contained in others, and applying those mechanisms and dynamics into the parsonages, crafting individual devices of abnegation and judgement for each of them in a way that they fit one another almost inextricably, proves to be more than a bit demanding. I don’t want to merely generate a lazy narrative force that drives characters forward in a particular path, but instead, people that are driven beneath and beyond that force, characters that are able to be moved without the magnitude of villains and mysteries and tragedies and dalliances, because very few of us are driven by those things. We are driven by what we are into what we become. And that element of being proves hardest to replicate, although certainly not impossible, as many did it in the past.


Collie, now near Sandra, kept his eyes coiled to the ground whenever he felt she might turn to him, locking the air with a breeze of timid silence, shrouding his hands within the side-pockets of his coat. A mist rolled with the softness of a first snowfall, and their breath condensated in a brisk show of glimmer whenever it encountered small rays of the wintry low-hovering sun. Sandra, a bit disheartened with the disruption of her solitude, despised appearing icy, as that resulted in others taking her for a bland character, something she assured herself often that she was not, thus she shattered the ice before it even formed:
— Collie, right? I went to school with your brother, or at least I think he was your brother. What was it? Liam? — she said, manufacturing some sense of doubt not to appear overly cognisant of the lives of others.
— Yes, Liam!, he’s my elder brother. Was he your friend? — Collie replied, exulted that she had taken notice, but somewhat laden in his speech, as if a cold boulder sat on his throat.
— Not friends, no. I merely knew him from sight. How’s he doing? I haven’t seen him in a good count of years, feels like. — Sandra said, raising the weight of her taciturn eyes to a point that her face seemed suffused with the features of a solemn and torpid lake, distantly removed, tightly hidden atop some remote mountain. This was an instrument she made use of, but she wasn’t aware of why nor what purpose it meant to achieve, she simply did it as one simply eats or simply bathes.
— Yeah, I suppose he wasn’t much of a friendly type, it was a silly question. He moved near the coast, to study. He doesn’t visit nor call much. My father insists that Liam feels we can no longer understand his profound and modern forms of communication, but that he will return when he needs to. «They always do», he says, because «when they are in need to be understood, they very rarely don’t find the words», as words only evade us when they detect our insincerity. And when we feel we can bend them to our liking, they tend to bend us instead. — Collie prattled, and then widened his eyes, falling into a chasm of quietude as soon as he realised how much he had just spoken. These meagre embarrassments of youth seem to hold so much gravity to us at the time, but with age, they become fundamental habits of our self-distinction and almost definitive elements of our personalities. Sandra found the splurge of information tenderly effusing; it allowed her greater times of silence, bigger windows of invisibility, and the way she lovingly held each word he uttered (as it represented another word she wouldn’t have to utter) was shown clearly in her expression: the lake began to lower calmly, undetectable, her skin was more visible as her face angled upwards, a tone of olive sheen befell it and she almost appeared to be a feminine bronze statue foregrounding a Mediterranean dawn, still graced with the dew of a humid night, glimmering and exurgent. This shift wasn’t noticed by Collie, who was still submerged in his own infantile discomfiture.


Restoration of a River


Both fragments of the document represent a tiny amount of what I’ve written on it, but they are among the weakest parts of the text; they showcase well the measure of my shortcomings and, in some strange sense, I prefer to exhibit these instead of the stronger ones. Perhaps one day I will feel ready, but being aware of my inadequacies seems the best way to inch closer to that readiness, however long it may take. And thank you, if you’ve made it this far along. I write far too much.

João-Maria.


Tokyo, by Nikki Lake.
(Her pictures remind me a lot of my perspective of spaces when I was a child, for some reason)

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.

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.

(Droplet) neuro-dialectics (english|português)

While tinkering with some experimental forms in a poetic manuscript in Portuguese and listening to Henosis by Joep Beving (which is a terrific album for writing), I came across his track “Noumenon“, which involves a rather minimalist piano piece, some synthetic organ elements, and the voice of a man in the background with drowned speech that can’t, at any point, be understood. With that, I was inspired to try my hand at creating two rather hollow characters who, in between compositions, would hold disjointed conversations — some more sensible than others — which, in time, spun a willingness in me to dialogue with myself recurrently, often about nothing, often about everything, sometimes in extensive monologues and others in short, sharp sentences. I’m sure this is not unique nor is it particularly exceptional, but I’m quite enjoying the folly of it, so I felt compelled to share. The first, in form of a dense poetic-prose unified speech, and the other, a banter succeeding a somewhat disenchanted love-poem:

(Varieties of Ultramarine)


— I would have enjoyed playing in the Schönhausen palace, or have exulted a body with a pungent waltz collapsing over a soundscape, an imploded building; that is it, the profligacy, extensive, sharp disgraces, to be vulgar but stricken by an extreme energy to dive into the most profound aromas. It saddens me, you know? There are things… Well; the solar cycles of flesh, various shouts and lamentations, to have seen the physical aspects of this domain perish, await the rains, observe the age of birds, the spark of sylvan wings, the solitude and silence, and… Who knows? Not quite so much. Things aren’t as they are, they are something else entirely, that and that, but never this. Do you remember being as small as a bean?, receive the pillars of light supporting the hours, scour the fabric of everything only to find image, the paltry gleam of pearls, those scarab-green silks used by elderly women to obscure their haggard neck, they almost appeared to be moving birch trees!, and those ornaments, miscellaneous objects, superfluous events, ashtrays of glass or steel, calendars, the frightful villain of night and darkness, that today, at a loss of self, appears to us as an absolute white. All these small constituents, baubles of sort, dust prisons sustaining the vice of inner occupation, of imagining this and that and hold it close, take it as ours, all these things which are only ours, as only we notice them — no longer is there space for any of this. The plangency of remembrance…, my breast constricts once certain portals are crossed, it closes, colours drop like acids, my contact with the shiver of the earth is erased, I acquire a lightness able to capture the tail-flame of meteors; a reduction to atoms and waves, conclusion, gelation, agony, I abandon touch, matter labours to restore my gravity. See, I do not say this just because of longing, but for the very nature of volition; at times, I see myself as an apocryphal text, or one of those commonplace engravings, a nearby landscape: a withy in a gradient of death, rough-stones, a partially hidden poplar, an imperious crow, an imperative sky, and I cogitate under a snooze spun from my fear of disappointing dramatism, what is the peremptory truth which blooms from this weak reality? No, I do not search for the meaning of all, or of life, nor any of those fatuous borrowing pretensions; neither am I concerned with whys, or magnetised by the spiritual abuse of philosophies. I just wanted a place, a pallid place, a home within my own self, to sit beneath a veil of dense warmth, convene with my own humble purposes, feel the lemon-skin come near, cover my eyes, ears and nose so I could say, distant from myself yet impossibly near, that this is this, that is that. I want the shelter of certainty, of solidity, that through the years configured more and more intangible. Ah!, pathetic, who, in wholesome control of their faculties, would want such thing? Volatility permeates beauty, and all is as beautiful as it is perpetual; the metronome fuels the serfdom of Men to the expressions of change, and in which form can we exist if not this one? The sunset is not a promise, the substrate is not a promise, nothing promises, nothing promises, and I’m privy to what you may think, that is the tacit worth of everything simple; I agree, I’m merely tired… It is time to play on the Schönhausen palace. It has to be time. The trees of Iðunn shan’t bear more apples for me, and I’m tired.


(lichen)

Back in my land, it is said that love is the acquisition of shadows.
— We all love in a bellicose mutism of sorts.
— A hall of mirrors as an instrument of inner torture…

Have you seen the spark of Spring, that distillation
of rays refracted in the atmosphere particles, the cough
of the peaceful mallards? That limpid green…
I thought love would be similar to that pure scenery.
— Our Springs were very short, at home. Time
was like a large iron anvil held by cambric strings,
as those one normally sees in childish cartoons.

You never had anyone, I suppose.
— I didn’t think it possible.
— The true surprise, that
which throws you into the centrifugation of clouds
with distant outcrops, fragile white daisies,
is when someone truly likes you.
— If that is how you feel.
— Do you feel it differently?
— I don’t like myself…, you see? If by chance
anyone did, it wouldn’t be someone I could have liked,
I do not trust anyone that likes who I do not like.
— I understand.
— It isn’t hard.
— Not for me.


Português

— Gostava de ter tocado no palácio de Schönhausen, de exultar um corpo numa valsa pungente quedando sobre uma construção de sons, um edifício implodido; é isso, a devassidão, vergonhas extensas e acutilantes, ser-se vulgar mas acometido duma energia extrema para mergulhar nos aromas mais profundos. Entristece-me, sabe? Há coisas… Pronto; os ciclos solares na carne, tessituras e lamentações várias, ver os materiais físicos deste domínio a colapsar, esperar pelas chuvas, observar a época dos pássaros, o rútilo das asas silvestres, da solidão e do silêncio, e… Quem sabe. Não tanto. As coisas não são como elas são, são outras e outras, aquilo e aquilo, mas nunca isto. Lembra-se de ser pequeno como um feijão?, receber os pilares de luz que sustentam as horas, perscrutar o tecido das coisas e encontrar apenas a imagem, o pequeno tilitar das pérolas, aquelas sedas verde-escaravelho que as transuentes mais velhas usavam para obscurar o pescoço gasto, chegavam a parecer grandes bétulas movediças!, e aqueles ornamentos, objectos vários, eventos supérfluos, cinzeiros de vidro ou aço, calendários, o terrível vilipêndio da noite e do escuro, que hoje, perdidos, é-nos quase como um branco absoluto. Todos estes pequenos elementos constituintes, frioleiras, prisões de pó sustentando o vício da ocupação interior, de imaginar isto e aquilo e tê-lo perto, tomá-lo por nosso, todos estes elementos só nossos, pois só nós damos conta deles — já não há espaço para nada disto. A plangência de rememorar…, o peito abstem-se quando se atravessam certos portais, fecha-se, as cores pingam como ácidos, o contacto com a tremor da terra cessa, adquirimos uma leveza que captura o fogo dos meteoros; a redução em átomos e ondas, conclusão, congelamento, agonia, parece que abandonamos o tacto, e a matéria labora para nos restaurar a gravidade. Veja, não digo isto apenas por saudade, mas a própria natureza da volição; por vezes, dou-me como um texto apócrifo, ou uma daquelas iluminuras comuns, uma paisagem próxima: ervas em gradientes de morte, pedras-toscas, um álamo parcialmente gravado, um corvo imperioso, um céu impreterível, e cogito na modorra que apenas tenho porque temo a desilusão da peça, qual será a verdade peremptória que floresce desta fraca realidade? Não, não procuro o significado das coisas, ou da vida, ou nenhuma dessas pretensões fátuas sensabor; tampouco me ocupo do porquê, nem sou magnetizado pela sevícia espiritual das filosofias; queria apenas um sítio, um espaço pálido, uma casa dentro de mim próprio, sentar-me sob um véu de calor denso, reunir-me dos meus propósitos humildes, sentir a pele de limão aproximar-se, cobrir-me os olhos, os ouvidos, o nariz, e poder dizer, longe de mim e no entanto impossivelmente perto, que isto é isto, que aquilo é aquilo. Quero o abrigo da certeza, da solidez, que ao passo dos anos se configurou mais e mais intangível. Ah!, patético, quem, em total controlo das suas faculdades, desejaria tal coisa? A volatilidade permeia a beleza, e tudo é belo por ser perpétuo, o metrómono abastesse a servidão do homem às expressões da mudança, e de que forma existir senão nessa? A poente não é uma promessa, o substrato não é uma promessa, nada promete, nada promete, e eu sei o que pensa, pensa que é esse o valor tácito das coisas mais simples; eu concordo, estou só cansado… É tempo de tocar no palácio de Schönhausen. Tem de ser tempo. As árvores de Iðunn já não me darão mais maçãs, e estou cansado.


Lá nas terras, dizia-se que amar é o exercicio de adquirir sombras.
— Todos amamos num mutismo bélico.
— Um corredor de espelhos como um instrumento de tortura interior.

Já viu o encandeamento duma Primavera, aquela destilação
dos raios refractados nas particulas da atmosfera, o tossicar
lânguido dos patos-reais? Aquele verde límpido…
Eu achei que amar seria esse cenário puro.
— As Primaveras eram muito curtas, por lá. O tempo
parecia uma bigorna de ferro segura por fios de cambraia,
como se vê nos desenhos das crianças.

Nunca teve ninguém, suponho.
— Acho que não teria sido possível.
— A verdadeira surpresa, aquela
que nos lança à centrifugação das nuvens
com aflorismos distantes, margaridas brancas,
é quando alguém gosta de nós.
— Se é isso que sente.
— Sentiu-o doutra forma?
— Não gosto de mim…, entende? Se porventura
alguém gostou, não seria alguém de quem poderia gostar,
não confio em ninguém que goste de quem eu não gosto.
— Entendo.
— Não é díficil.
— Não para mim.


Thank you,
João-Maria.

(Droplet) – mozambique – (English | Português)

A toy © Gökhan Kayal in Clam Collectors of Maputo

Luís Carlos Patraquim lives, 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

Moçambique

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.

Luís Carlos Patraquim em “O Círculo”

(Memnos I) – Alluvium

Untitled2.png


        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…


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

⌉|⌈ – Irrigation, friends.


        Leaned against the customary elm tree, some would take aim at nouvelle psychologies, others would echo life-bound lessons at the bottom of a plastic beer cup. If elation existed on summary, little else would be needed to describe the happiness blooming from friendship. I’d spent my few years of breath on fighting prejudice and carving a spot in the landscapes, as to measure the weight of my sins with that of my embraces.

              Little was expected, less was requested, and the ley-lines of kinship were bursting with movements: an arm around my shoulders, a hug so firm it freezes my flesh, turning a moment into a brass statue made to be outwardly admired. I had understood the height and worth of my words, I learned to love my speech and to gaze at the walk as a path worth replicating. I have known silence, I have known solitude; and how pallid, chalky visions they seem to have become. The lines of simplicity are aligned with themes of highest complexity, and the unrest is only natural when we serve the lordship of inner exploration; a while back, I’d coin myself as a poet of the simple and sincere, but I’m none of the sort. Life is as complex as it is simple, and the figments in between are the colours of its palette, poetry is just the chrome I use to coat the rust of days. Not much is simple about those days.

              In the Portuguese island of Madeira, levadas carry waters from the highest elevation to the southern plateaus, effectively reproducing veins. To create these channels, colonists had to burn the island for months due to its thick rainforest, essentially taking what they would then give back.
There is a certain parallel to all of this, there is a reason why levadas come to mind while I hug some of my dearest friends. A paradigm that unfolds itself on living parataxis, through disconnected clauses that present themselves as an older slide-show, burning ever-so-slightly in the heat of their projector. There is pain is non-return; there is despair in frugality; there is missing and there is saudade; a method of regret over tears that we couldn’t help but shed, a process of reclaiming days where we lived poetry just by staying in bed.

              I strike at Time and it inevitably strikes back. I bathe in the hypocrisy of blaming Time for its callous nature, rather than acknowledging my blunder as a human wired to thrive on disfunction. I see all, and during some shadowy nights, I could have declared that we all did. We all see where it hurts, what it takes, and how it must. We all live, breathe, evolve and suffocate beneath that same dust. And perhaps I carry little more than awareness that the hug was gaining momentum over those days of isolation, from the topmost of those pallid visions to the plateaus of my heart, smoothly hauling what it is to be human until that moment of touch, of irrigation, of a thrist so repressed, it pinnacles as it blooms into that sincerity and simplicity, into that hug that simply transmits: I need you, and I didn’t know I needed you, because I’m faulty and inadequate, but now I know that I need you. That is all I know, and all I need to know.

             Some of my friends are poets, and undoubtedly, they will be better than I could ever. Holding them in these fragile arms, along with the belief that briefly, I could inspire them, is all the greatness I think I will ever need.


JOHNNY