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.
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.
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.
«‘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.
An author is a company to the nothingness, indigent because it is company to nothing, and possesses that nothingness, imperious, impermissible, obedient to the reasons of things, bled-out in the salts of colours while assuming itself king and progenitor of them. It is a whimsy, being an author, authorise the creation of nothingness and gift it the vehemence of being; if I was prohibited of writing as soon as the following dawn, I would not see it as an act of injustice. I would simply say that I have nothing to write, that the particles of water scintillating in my breath exist as towers, as trees, streams, which collect within me in murderous stance yet refusing to kill me (being that the ultimate trick), constituting nothing more than the nothingness I accompany, otherwise written there, in lithology, where earth whispers with impenetrable force, or there, in walls made goldener with the torpor of times, or there, in a book, in any book written, in any book unwritten. It is a nothingness which is unique only while it is nothingness — because nothing is unique — and soon collapses within the banality of conveyance. One who writes of nothingness has nothing else to write about, and is, truly, creatively hindered, for it only receives a casuistry in assemblages of casuistries laid upon an arid ground; we are of philosophies while we rehearse interrogations, of cement in the architectures of fiction, of soundly banisters in poetry (and only of banisters), and we inflate nothingness with leagues of meanings, of personal mythologies, images of dragonflies in the thawing boughs, pine-cones floating over the equatorial seas, the lugubrious quality of facts which soon cease to be facts under the gravity of other facts, and noble horses, beaten, hungers and terrors and pestiferous qualities of loving, of what we intend to love, of what we intend to understand in the qualities of loving, all laid as flagstones to be danced upon as a divine coalescence of what is because it is and what it is because we generate it being so by measure of feeling it. Enumerations, many, all within the same nothingness, an infinite parenthesis that fits perfectly in the spiralled-hole made by a closed fist; but let me revise what-is, if truth is creative and dream its destruction, let me revise the subterranean of things, because all of them bubble with the meaning of everything, seethe as a compass of light in an interminable condensation of phenomenon, and not seeing the crushing dimension of everything but only the replica of a constant reductive exercise — a simulation of essence — is a wound extended to the horizon, because we are fragile, our bones cinders easily turned to dust, and because all which contains meaning is perfidious in that meaning, and that ash penetrates our lungs, within nothingness, within all, within meaning which is nothingness of all, a panic, a neurological tuberculosis, a paralysis. And then, there is a destruction which isn’t reduction, olive oil over the sting of a bee, the youth and the regeneration which takes itself in such an unstinting and clear meaning, which is akin to the glisten of a tear in immense darkness. We return home. The world regains sense, and is absent of meaning and nothingness and everything, resistant to such adornments, and we are made-whole by the levity of the air itself, the stark colours of florets, and all light resounding in shaded walls. There is, perhaps, a mother and a father, siblings, or the limpid memory of them, of where they stood, where they observed this domain with endless complexities which not even dream purports to understand. There is a dog, perhaps a cat, a canary, and their phlegmatic enthusiasm bleeding from their spirited eyes. There is that foolish night and the ill-starred end of that antiquity, which I did not see pass, because I never stopped being anything that I was, and I shall never not be anything that I was.
We return home, where world and language live in profound reciprocity, and we may contain libraries within, we may have never written anything leather-bound, we may have written twenty meticulously woven narratives, but here, we are not authors, we are not writers, we do not accompany a nothingness which is yet to be described. Here, we are that nothingness, that meaning, we are the shadow the author plies to accompany.
Long before physics and psychology were born, pain disintegrated matter, and affliction the soul.
All Gall Is Divided, Emil Cioran.
O autor é a companhia do nada, indigente porque nada acompanha, e possui nada, imperioso, impreterível, obtemperando as razões das coisas, sangrado nos sais das cores enquanto se assume rei e progenitor das mesmas. É uma veleidade, ser-se autor, autorizar a criação do nada e dar-lhe veemência de ser; se me coibissem de escrever já na próxima manhã, não seria um desvario. Diria apenas que nada tenho a escrever, e que as particulas de água que rútilam na minha respiração existem como torres, como árvores, regados, aquilo que se colecciona em mim a poste de me matar mas que não me mata (sendo essa a sua manigância), constitui apenas um nada que acompanho, que outrora fora escrito ali, na litologia, onde a terra tuge uma força impenetrável, ou ali, nas paredes douradas na modorra dos tempos, ou ali, num livro, em qualquer livro outrora escrito, até ainda por escrever. É um nada que é único enquanto é nada — porque nada é único — e deixa de o ser quando deixa de ser nada. Quem escreve sobre o nada é o autor que nada tem sobre o que escrever, e está, deveras, criativamente estropiado, pois é-lhe dada uma casuística que coaduna com as outras casuísticas de viver num campo calvo; somos da filosofia quando ensaiamos as perguntas, do cimento nas arquitecturas das ficções, dos balústres do som nas poesias (e apenas dos balústres), e vamos entumescendo o nada com léguas de significados, de mitologias pessoais, imagens de libélulas no gelo das árvores, de pinhas flutuando sobre os mares equatoriais, a qualidade memorial dos factos que logo deixam de ser factos sobre o peso doutros factos, e cavalos nobres, espancados, ludismos, lajedos de fomes e terrores e qualidades pestíferas do que amamos, do que pretendemos amar, do que pretendemos entender na qualidade de amar, uma coalescência divina do que é porque o é e do que engendramos ser por medida de sentirmos que assim o seja. Enumerações, muitas, todas dentro do mesmo nada, num parêntise infinito que assenta perfeitamente no buraco-espiral dum punho cerrado; mas deixem-me rever o sí-mesmo, se a verdade é criativa e o sonho a sua destruição, deixem-me rever todo o subterrâneo das coisas, porque todas elas borbulham com o significado de tudo, fervem no compasso de luz numa condensação infinita de fenómenos, e é uma ferida que se estende ao horizonte de não ver a dimensão esmagadora que têm, é a réplica de um exercício redutor constante — uma simulação de essência — porque somos frágeis, os nossos ossos cinzas que se esmagam com a maior facilidade, e porque tudo o que significa é pérfido no seu significado, e essa cinza de ossos penetra-nos os pulmões, dentro de nada, dentro de tudo, dentro do significado que é um nada num todo, um pânico, uma tubérculose da mente, uma paralisia.
E depois, há uma destruição que não é redução, o azeite sobre a picada da abelha, a juventude e a regeneração que se toma por um significado tão concreto e claro, que é reflexo de lágrima numa escuridão imensa. Voltámos a casa. O mundo faz sentido, e não tem significado nem nada nem tudo, nem se resigna a tais adornos, e somos preenchidos pela leveza do próprio ar, as cores das próprias flores, e toda a luz retumbada nas paredes sombreadas. Há, talvez, uma mãe e um pai, irmãos, ou uma memória límpida deles, de onde se postavam, de onde observavam o mundo com infímas complexidades que nem um sonho suporta entender. Há um cão, talvez um gato, um canário, e o seu entusiasmo fleumático que sangra no espírito dos seus olhos. Há aquela noite estouvada e o fim malogrado dessa antiguidade, que não vi suceder, porque nunca deixei de ser nada do que outrora fui, nunca deixarei de ser nada do que já fui.
Voltámos a casa, onde o mundo e a linguagem vivem em profunda reciprocidade, e podemos conter bibliotecas cá dentro, podemos nunca ter escrito obra, podemos ter escrito vinte. Aqui, não somos autores, não somos escritores, não acompanhamos um nada ainda por descrever. Aqui, somos o nada, o significado, a sombra que o autor acompanha.
the days without anyone impish notes scrawled quickly crumpled in our fingers
the honeysuckle was beautiful rising through the night of forsaken residence
exact stones scented dusts fireflies napping in the flexibility of clay sands covered of insects bones and teeth and the river hauling weary nights
luminous inflorescence acid moons crumbling fissures of earth coastline cities birds fragile paths in open flight during the tremendous lucidity of dreaming
I’m left with halls of glass where I drown the calcined remains of body I open the door leading to my visage descend the mossy steps of the yard cross the masonry garden where I lived the entire time before I hurried “Days Without Anyone” – Al Berto
Landlocked mid poetic subject and poet, mid experience and body, mid reality and the act of writing, lies an indubitable reflective surface lightly swiveling as the halo of a flame. Mário Lugarinho illustrated Al Berto “between the poetic and the experimented, installed as a bridge — the mirror itself, recurrent metaphor in his oeuvre. Between poetry and experience, the subject, incontestable mediator between the real and the written and establishing between them the flagrant coincidence.” In a sensory blossoming of ontological experience, Al Berto carries the brutalism of existence as one does scars in one’s own body, exhibiting those elements of suffering with timid thrusts while words cannibalise their own element of sincerity. The body, in his poems, rises as a monolith of subjectivity laved in the hemorrhage of experience; it is cumbrous with sensuality, hatred, speech, infancy, shards of things-in-themselves in a scenery of mournful abandonment:
I sleep within a disheveled body fear encroaches the somber hall I find a water scintillating in plaster a scar of mossy crystals opens porous to my touch, indicating there shall be no forgetting or breeze to clean the immemorial time of this home
of this simulated sleep, it left but bitter iodine the waxed woods covered in dust dried herbs in rain sheafs of rosemary, jonquils, snapdragons, campions, clover yet no escape has been restarted my infancy remains sad where I abandoned it nearly does not live yet I still hear it breathing within me.
now all is different I restart life from the emptiness of dark days in silence in-between skin and a beam of magnificent veins I feel the bird of age dragging its wings
where it develops a calm lunar flight
I enumerate objects thoroughly, classifying them by sizes and textures, by functions I want to leave everything tidy when madness comes from the sharpened extremity of my winged body and my face is intruded by a shard of wing
so shall life collapse unto a sheet of paper where verse by verse I illuminate and wear myself out.
“Vigílias” – Al Berto
The stark provocation of image — which binds itself both cruel and ethereal in a procession of memory — is not merely symbol, but a counterpoint to denotation; the wound is palpable, as each verse widens its longitude with unstinting force where the absence of breath is not merely a quality of form but a proxy to restlessness. A frondsome garden is thus woven and hydrated in white obscurity: reality is held in a crystalline distance, writing cannot approximate it, regardless of eloquence, of thought, of philosophies, we lie in open sight and sketch an estimated geography, and, from time-to-time, an embodiment of placid light befalls our lips and we are disfigured by castrated toponymies; our place in the universal lie unfurls. Al Berto carries out his death in poem successively, both the wanting of his death and the pestilent, modern malaise of the death of wanting, inherited from a legacy of weighted dichotomies and promises–too long has the poet promised, too epic was the oneiric journey of poetics, too arduous the return. Thus, his poetry is a summon for a corpse, the buoyant corpse of his infantile yearn, the mossy corpse of his lyrical dreams, the winged corpse of his light, yet merely a corpse: the gallows of his life plaintively whistle within, and in reality lies a frigid inheritance of death. Our body, lush with herbs and snapdragons and rosemary positioned as a reflective vessel of both, a world of unbearable cruelty made of particles and waves of synthesized beauty. There is, yet, an ethereal release from anguish in his mirror of corpses that, even if still anguished, serves to lighten the breath:
I write to you feeling all of this and in an instance of lucidity I could be the river the goats shrouding the tinkle of sleigh-bells in the silver crystals of a photograph I could rise as the chestnut-tree of those tales whispered by a fire and wander, trembling with the birds or accompany the sulfuric butterfly revealed by humid lips I could mimic that shepherd or mistake myself for the dream of a city which little by little bites its own immobility
I inhabit this world of water by error I’m required radio-graphic images of bones unfocused faces hands on bodies printed in paper and mirrors notice I have nothing else if not this note stained with fine arils of pomegranate I sent today notice how a heart of paper is yellowed by the forgetfulness of loving you.
“Trabalhos do Olhar” – Al Berto
Passion, even in passing, is an effusing stroke, and a world perhaps collapsed is reshaped (albeit perfunctorily) only to support that florescence, as loving is the most human of all Arts, notice we have nothing else.
So, bear with me here; I know it’s not great, but I was mashing my brain against this first Canto without any true necessity. Poems like these require a certain heaviness I cannot fully achieve (just yet), my poetry still draws much from my own levity as a person. That being said, the form is still ridiculously volatile, and I apologise for that. So far, The Shades are mostly lyrical, Cocytus is mostly expositive and Luriam is mostly confessional. I would like to keep it that way, but still need to work on their cohesion and how the styles transition. Regardless, if you have any tips, I’m all ears!