to taste of salt (english poetry)


I spent a good deal of December avoiding the written arts entirely; there was this sentiment of emotional threshold, a sensation that the stacks of words I was creating were cindery distillations of ire or sadness. The purge I necessitated to convalesce informed my Art, but I thought it should be contrary, that my Art should instruct the purge, navigate the healing, become a beacon of undiluted self that extended structural fingers of beauty to raise me from any form of depth.
My creative reluctance ended with this piece, a malformed narrative schematic-of-a-poem, overwrought and of painful reading, written in a about forty minutes without interruption. I returned to my methodical alcove and once more resigned to the weight of my distortions, yet I’m not ashamed, strangely, because I must herald the authenticity of my expression even when it is a shattered crystal, even when I’m met with the countenance of what I sought to exile from myself; because it is impossible to heal when we are eternally bound to the shame of hurting.

JoãoMaria

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

Happy Together (1997)

In spirit of support for Hong Kong’s recent and on-going social struggle, I decided to review one Cantonese work that had the vastest artistic influence over myself and my own creative method, and that work is, without an inkling of doubt, Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together, made in 1997. This film proved to be the deserved consolidation of Wai’s directorial style and, simultaneously, a unique insight into Hong Kong’s LGBTQ+ dynamics as well as the specific emotional axioms of abusive relationships in a profound state of isolation. The film, armed with a minimalist cast of only three actors and an even more parsimonious and unfinished script that weaves itself together by means of image and sound, is a sprawling exploration about the coalescence of masculinity and the tumultuous and abashing treatment of LGBTQ+ communities in certain countries, a mixture that exacerbates a type of emotional mutism and reinforces the role of violence, both emotional and physical, in replacing the lack of communication and expressive clarity that should lie at the heart of any interpersonal relationship.

The relationship between Ho Po-wing, an airy and infantile man whose volatility proves highly obliterative, and Lai Yiu-fai, a depressive and internally unstable individual who finds himself in a perpetual performance of silent self-destruction, serves as the machine-of-war for the film’s dark existence; Ho Po-wing recurrent malediction, «Let’s start over.», made whenever the relationship felt most strenuous, was further engraved by his purchase of a lamp that resembled the Iguazu Falls, which the couple had planned to visit. This lamp acts as the central nervous system of a relatively diaphanous narrative. Both Ho’s infatuation with it and Lai’s attachment to what it represents seems to tether them both to a sense of eventual romantic actuation: as long as the luminous waters of the lamp cascade, so does the blood of the conjoined and corrupting heart of their relationship.
The film then shifts its focus to the exploration of Lai’s convalescence from this deeply abusive relationship, one that left him with the sorrow of survival and confusion thereof, to survive outside and beyond a mechanism of abuse that slowly became his raison-d’être, one that left him felt alone, lost, ashamed, betrayed and obliterated, trapped in a country which wasn’t his own and unable to return.

Wong Kar Wai’s lavishly dim cinematographic aesthetics, after gaining emboss in Chungking Express (1996), are further consolidated in Happy Together; the recurrent chromatic shifts that play upon the levels of narrative magnitude, the derelict and harsh environments reverberated by a sanitised, dry usage of light that appear as a signature of both his thematic emotional acuity and as a replication of Hong Kong’s own neon-spent frigid and synthetic streets, and the instrumentation of visual punctuations, chiefly exemplified by the films opening scene, a sanguine and heaving sexual encounter whose aggressiveness is found in both the actors and the corner-angled, gradually more intimate shots; the aesthetic interludes of the film also serve as vibrant expository conveyors, and such is the case with the bird’s eye shot of Iguazu Falls which is overlaid with a low-saturation filter and backgrounded by Caetano Veloso’s Cucurrucucú paloma, a pensive song about the destructive motions of lovesickness; shots like the kitchen tango scene, or the culmination of Lai’s emotional devastation in the voice recorder scene, are made with a level of artistic direction that, as far as my experience with film goes, has no parallel in how effectively it translates the most profound and vicious elements of emotional abuse in romantic relationships.

With a soundtrack that includes Astor Piazzolla’s Tangos, Frank Zappa’s I Have Been In You, and a cover of Happy Together by The Turtles (which inspired the English name of the film), Wai assures not only that every scene receives and apposite sound, but also that all the themes intertwine seamlessly, something he was already famed for after the release of Chungking Express and its memorable usage of California Dreamin’.

Lastly, I would like to express my support for the Cantonese people; their culture and heritage is not only thronged with beautiful works, it also had a magnificent impact on the cultural productions of today, on and beyond Cinema. One such example is Nicholas Wong’s Crevasse, a guttural poetry collection about growing up LGBTQ+ in Hong Kong that I could not recommend more.

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.

(Droplet) the waves of creation.

Virginia Woolf, July 1902. Photo by George C. Beresford.

«‘But Bernard goes on talking. Up they bubble — images. “Like a camel,” . . . “a vulture.” The camel is a vulture; the vulture a camel; for Bernard is a dangling wire, loose, but seductive. Yes, for when he talks, when he makes his foolish comparisons, a lightness comes over one. One floats, too, as if one were that bubble; one is freed; I have escaped, one feels. Even the chubby little boys (Dalton, Larpent and Baker) feel the same abandonment. They like this better than the cricket. They catch the phrases as they bubble. They let the feathery grasses tickle their noses. And then we all feel Percival lying heavy among us. His curious guffaw seems to sanction our laughter. But now he has rolled himself over in the long grass. He is, I think, chewing a stalk between his teeth. He feels bored; I too feel bored. Bernard at once perceives that we are bored. I detect a certain effort, an extravagance in his phrase, as if he said “Look!” but Percival says “No.” For he is always the first to detect insincerity; and is brutal in the extreme. The sentence tails off feebly. Yes, the appalling moment has come when Bernard’s power fails him and there is no longer any sequence and he sags and twiddles a bit of string and falls silent, gaping as if about to burst into tears. Among the tortures and devastations of life is this then — our friends are not able to finish their stories.’»

Virginia Woolf, The Waves.

Along my inclement journey with literature, towards which I’m always shackled into a sentiment of certain rain-shadow, no book entreats more envy to me than The Waves, despite not even being my most favoured book. That writing, itself suffusing in one’s mind like luminous vermillion ink thrown at the solid shadows of a nightly sea, manages to collect the summonings of a graceful elm whose leaves command delicate beams of light that lick the hairs of ancient Gods, and whose roots silhouette skeletons quivering and thrilling with allegories of forgotten heroes. I would readily give much of what I have — which isn’t much at all — if I could write with her convex descriptions and concave emotional realisms. Virginia dawned lives inside herself so ravelled and ornate, one should only feel the perpetual shame of inhabiting a world in which a soul as hers could ever meet a fate so ruthless. But I lean against my stile to find the watery-eyed posture of loss trailing my memories of her, serenely laden against her own, looking at the threaded colours diluted in the glass, conjuring the whirlpools of vivid sorrow that I and so many others readers have been entranced by, and I’m happy to fit silently into her designs. Extremely happy with the chance of doing so, at least.

In the passage above quoted, Louis catches Bernard be betrayed by his own oneirism and enchanting absurdity for the first time; this laceration is one that any wordsmith is far-too privy to, when we feel our phrases with such intensity yet they become miserable attempts at flight once they leave their tidy homes within our minds. This heartbreak is inexorable, and, as children, we are lured into it as the carps of a pond whose surface ripples with breadcrumbs; the world, as in others, as in natures, as in images, cannot resist the prestidigitation of padding our hearts full of prismatic lights only to fracture it with one stealthy strike. Percival delivered that strike to Bernard, but I do not have any literary account of who delivered that strike onto me, but rather, a series of blows along the coastal remains of my life in shape of dense black spots in a beach brimming with whiteness. They grow; they grow once remembered, once any is added, some coalesce and obscure further hideouts of my youth, some are so intimately cruel that they seethe with a purple, purulent aroma, and those I cannot ever approach, as they hold the tyranny of possibilities.

Once, at a swift nightly escapade with my friends in the dusk of Lisbon, I broke down in a self-liturgy pulled from my own sense of decay. Those friends, some actors of considerable talent, some writers containing what, to me, were the greatest possible stories, all of them liegemen to the Arts which I, due to cowardice, so vehemently denied to ever stand a chance of creating anything worthy of the inheritance those Arts so severely cast upon their creators, these friends stand both as the Atlantean pillars of my dreams and those black and grim holes of memory; constant reminders of my timid and inept attempts at existing half-formed in a world that seduced and daunted me in equal magnitudes. I broke down as Bernard did, fervently portending my own doomed reality in which my story would never be finished, but scattered among others; I was to die as a liegeman to them and not to the Arts they served; a pathetic being in a frail cocoon that I, frailest still, couldn’t shatter. And that was a task and fate that disappointed me, but did not dissatisfy me, as holding that would elevate holding nothing.

In more ways that those I’m able to count, perhaps like specks of obsidian dusk pairing above a stream, both dark and brilliant, the creation of this website allowed my continued survival. I do not write for posterity or immortality, as those things are uninteresting to me, and it does not bother me that I will be forgotten. I write, now, for interaction, my interaction with both the Art I love and with those who love it as much as I, to exist in a cordon of souls representing both aspects of Virginia’s Percival, those who receive my words as to allow them their chance of flight, their chance of surviving my despotic and cruel rule, and those who are bored by them, because those are the ones who inspire poetry.


João-Maria

seven poems of Japanese aesthetics (english poetry)

I’m always on the prowl for ambient sounds apt for concentration, quest which led me to some of the most endeared songs of my library. Recently, I came across Ensō, by Fort Nowhere, followed by my procurement of what Ensō meant, the discovery of that Japanese spiritual practice, along with Japanese aesthetics, which I explored through various sources until I came upon this article, which features a series of Japanese aesthetic principles along with an Ensō ( which completed a full circle in my quest, interestingly).
Inspired by the various principles presented in the article, I attempted to create seven compositions related to how those principles interact (although at times a bit loosely) with my own ontological views. I paired each principle with a material or substance, to have both a thematic and a cosmetic focus for each poem. They are simple, very simple poems, some plangent, some more delicate, all of them written in the same style but independent of one-another, which means you may read only the one you feel most drawn to, or read all in the hope that you might like at least one of them. They are ordered as follows:

Fukinsei, Clay;
Seijaku, Incense;
Kanso, Plastic;
Shizen, Leaf;
Datsuzoku, Skin;
Shibumi, Bristle;
Yugen, Water.


Fukinsei, clay

SEIJAKU, incense

KANSO, PLASTIC

SHIZEN, LEAF

DATSUZOKU, SKIN

SHIBUMI, BRISTLE

YUGEN, WATER

Needless to say, they are more modernistic than oriental in tonality and form, but my primary attempt was to coalesce the two in my own style. I don’t feel that I was fully successful, but I decided to heed to my most oriental principle: just to let them be. I produced them in two hours, in Portuguese, and did not edit them.
I still hope you managed to extract something valuable or, at least, be entertained.
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.