domingo, 29 de setembro de 2013

Requiem: first version


Last night I died.
It was one of those calm deaths, just closing my eyes
And existing no more.
There was no violin though.

I had expected them. And the angels.
There was no retrospective of my life in some seconds,
I just sighed and was tired no more.
It was as if I had been born again
and was just deliciously getting used
to my new skin.

Then I saw my mother crying.
It almost broke my heart.
All of my tormented fake mothers and fathers also
and I did try to soothe them
but I was nothing more than a shadow
vibrating below infrared so they could not perceive me.

I gazed at the empty space which was left there
It was formless and thick and heavy.
O but it smelled like roses and candles. It was so romantic.
I kissed them all on their foreheads. There were so many people

I did not hope to see at my sunset. Their eyes were hollow
their faces confused. They could not understand why I had done it
They were fighting to unsuccessfully grapple with the fact that
This        was        exactly        what
I wanted to do.

domingo, 21 de julho de 2013

Once upon a time a workshop - Part 3 of 3 - The workshop



This was the second literary workshop I took part in my life. The first had been a Saturday morning, about writing science fiction narrative, years ago. The difference was that this one was in the United States, about poetry, a week long and the person who was giving it was Marge Piercy.
I was first introduced to her work through my studies of science fiction when I read about her most relevant works to that field: Woman on the Edge of Time published in 1976 and He, She and It, published in 1991. Her work is amazing and every essay, novel or poem I read by her made me feel more compelled to know more, to share them with friends. And it is no small feat: she has written and published more than 40 titles: 17 novels, 18 poem collections, a play and some non-fiction books. Three of her books were written in collaboration with her husband Ira Wood.

Last year, I interviewed Piercy because I am studying her two aforementioned novels. Out of this interview, I produced this poem. In December, she started receiving applications to the Poetry Workshop she gives. For you to apply you need to send her 5 poems. I had 5 poemsin English. They were raw, but I could include this poem I had written to her and it would be my chance of having her reading it. It would be an honor to be rejected by her. The thing is, some weeks after I had submitted the poems, she wrote me back and she said: “You are accepted to the workshop. Your poetry is too verbose and needs tightening and less rhetoric, but I like you and think you'd be a good addition to the mix. Plus unlike too many poets, you have a lot to say, and that matters to me. I look forward to working with you. I think I can help you.”
 
So, she talked about my weaknesses but she saw some potential in me. I stared at this message for hours, in disbelief, until I could finally answer her that it was great to have been accepted.

The following step was to create a portfolio with 15 poems, the five I had submitted and ten new ones. I didn’t have ten more good poems in English. So, I selected two and the other 8, I would translate from my poems in Portuguese. As I was helping my friend Taryn with translations from Portuguese to English, we helped each other and she gave a lot of hints and ideas. I wrote three new poems and there it was, a collection of fifteen poems.
When we started to introduce ourselves through Facebook, I got a little suspicious. Most of the people had been writing poetry for decades. They had been published. I felt my poems would be so amateurish and weak when put side by side with them. The mask would fall and they would see me as the academic playing poet I was. But if Piercy had believed in me, so should I.

The first day of class we finally met. I remember how nervous I was. I got there before everyone else. People came and the first activity was to introduce ourselves verbally and concisely. All the participants were so happy we only had 12 people in class. Normally workshops are for 40-50 participants. We were a heterogeneous group: one local, some people from the northeast of the US, two from San Francisco, Oregon, Glyn was Welsh but has lived in the US for a couple of decades and some of the girls were from Canada.
We had classes in the morning. The first day we talked about images. Piercy gave us some theory on aspects of poetry, then we read examples she had selected. It was good exercise for us to practice reading poems. Our assignment for next day was to write a poem selecting one image and working it out until the end. I wrote the first version of The crossing. The next day we talked about sounds. Our homework was to write a poem exploring the strategies of sound. That afternoon I had a conference with Marge.

The conferences were half an hour, and we would go to Marge’s house and she would comment on each of the 15 poems we had sent her. She gave me mostly ideas on changing words, cutting A LOT (remember the verbose?) and we talked a little bit about life and what was happening in Brazil. That gave me the idea to write the poem for the following day. People liked it. Here it is. 
By the middle of the week I had realized two things: the fellow poets were super friendly. I imagined they would have big egos and would patronize me. They did exactly the opposite.  
I understood how little of poetry I had read and how I was still afraid of it. That made me see all poetry as valid expression of something. Criticism was beyond me. I had no power to say it was bad poetry because if there was rhyme and verse, there was an intention to be poetic and I should praise the person for that. It was what made my editing process so difficult. It was high time I was not afraid anymore. I had to be able to select good poetry from bad poetry.  Doing that would not only make me a better poetry reader but a better writer. A critical sense was in the order of the day and the workshop was the chance I had to seize it.

There was the reading night and there were a lot of people to watch Marge and us. I calculated more than 70 people. I was the first to go. I read two of my poems: Truce in Troy and Recipe.

The next days we talked about titles (we had to give better titles to poems the others had written), line length and Thursday morning we started asking Marge a lot of questions and it was a Q&A session, basically. We talked about pattern poems (poems as list, image, recipe, dialog, etc).

One of the participants, the sweet Emily, wrote about her impressions on the workshop. You can find it here
What I learned from the experience was:

* Poetry is our experience in a different perspective. I should not fear it.

* As usual, it works better in groups. Joining a writer’s group was a hint she gave us

* Piercy is a wonderful person, who has had a rich and interesting life. I already knew that but it was just nice confirming in person.

* People can be very warm and friendly about my poetry even if I am from a country where English is not a mother language.


On the last day of classes, we had a party. Almost everyone was there. There were friends and family. The food was terrific, plenty to drink, talks about many things. I had a chance of sitting with Marge and talking to her about my research and the future. Glyn, one of the poets, who is Welsh, made an impersonation of the poet Dylan Thomas and the sun setting made it just a wonderful way to end that fabulous week.

sexta-feira, 19 de julho de 2013

Not there


Guilt, guilt guilt
oozes like blood
from my nose.
I observe
from the front row
marches
voices
raised
posters.

Guilt, anger anger
is everywhere.
Everyone
suddenly
goes political.
It is beautiful
and misguided
sometimes.

Anger, to the streets
to the streets!
More and more.
Thousands but one
this one being me
beached by the low tide
enjoying the perks
of dry land
licked by the waves
never fully wet.


terça-feira, 16 de julho de 2013

Once upon a time a workshop - Part 2 of 3 - The family


When I arrived in Wellfleet, I knew I had two different types of adventures to live: one would be in the mornings, when I had the workshop classes. After the classes and except when we had special events connected to the workshop, we were free to do our homework assignments and explore the area. The weather was perfect for most of the week. On Tuesday, it got cold and there would be a party for the workshop people at the beach with a bonfire but because it was cold, windy and overcast I ended up not going but apparently they had the party.
As usual, when traveling, I tried to see what Couchsurfing.org had to offer me. Wellfleet was a small village and the probability I would find places offering a couch there was very low. Indeed, there were three girls and only one answered my request. With a maybe. So I rented a room and we kept in touch, so that she could tell me for sure whether or not she would be home by the time of the workshop. Her mother, who was unaware of what CS was, visited her and met some couchsurfers. She liked the project and what Odessa told her about me so she offered to host me.

Because the daughter, Odessa, was busy, working at the film festival, Renae, the mother, ended up spending most of the time with me. She helped me a lot and treated me as part of the family. We would have meals together. I cooked for them once. We talked a lot about the past, the future. We walked the dogs. We went to several beaches, to the ponds. We went to the movies to watch shorts of the festival, and to watch “The Great Gatsby”. We had ice cream, fries. She helped me find my magnets. She drove me to class and back home. She talked to her neighbor, who gently lent her cottage for me to stay for the whole week. We went to a yard sale, to Provincetown. She was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I felt so happy when she was around. I was so happy when she accepted to go with me to the party we would have at the end of the workshop, as we were supposed to take family or friends. She felt like family. She made strawberry pie and had a good time talking to people about everything. I even inspired her to write a poem about a problem that has been afflicting the city. She taught me among other things that if I want to cultivate strawberries, cheap beer is always a must-have. Those drunk slugs thank you. Also, we faced mysteries together, like the strange “fauna” on the beach, some hollow whatever that we thought to be plants but moved! She is so easy to love and I wait for the day we are going to meet again.


Her family was just as extraordinary as she was. Chuck was funny and welcoming. Her 4 kids were so gorgeous and talented. They all played some kind of instrument, spoke other languages, had some type of artsy vein. Odessa was working a lot but we still had time to go places and her boyfriend Loren was also very interesting to talk to. His way to see the world was unique and I wanted to spend hours talking to him. He was the only one to endure waking up at 4.30 to see the sunrise on a Sunday. The girls were pretty tired. Nadia, one of the daughters, writes books for kids. I am sure I’m still going to ask her to sign one for me. She gave me a ride back from Provincetown, one of the nights I went there for some party. The bars were nice and I even learned some skateboarding with Loren (not downhill). 

Provincetown was, by the way, a very nice place to visit. People are very liberal, everywhere you look there is a rainbow flag and same-sex couples were walking hand in hand, friends were hanging out and flirting. The gay community there is massive. There is a boat inside the library and the building is very beautiful. you can just grab a book and sit by a window, staring at the blue sky and the Atlantic.

I felt happy all the time and it was the perfect way to complement my happiness of spending time with my favorite poet and novelist, Marge Piercy.

***
On my way back home, I still had one more night in Boston. I had talked to Will and he said it was OK for me to spend that night at his place again. We ended up going to a bar that night, listening to some live music and then we walked to a traditional ice cream place called J.P. Licks. The next morning, one more adventure before going to the airport. He drove me and his friend John to Dover, to a farm, where he had this volunteer work of controlling bird population by going to about 20 nests, counting the eggs, the hatchlings. It was much fun.

segunda-feira, 15 de julho de 2013

Once upon a time a workshop - Part 1 of 3 - Warming up

Another trip!? Why?

So, I had one more trip before going back home. It was a very important trip because it was the trip to Cape Cod. Last year, when I interviewed the author that I study, Marge Piercy, she mentioned she gave a workshop every year. It was called Intensive Poetry Workshop. She said many people applied but she would take 12 students – which is not very common, this type of event normally accepts dozens of people – to spend a week with her, learning about poetry and improving their craft. In December, she posted on Facebook that people could already submit their applications. To apply all you had to do was send her five poems. She would select the people based on a selection of their work. I had 5 poems in English. One was about her. So, if I really wanted her to read without having to impose on her, that was my chance. I thought it would be an honor to be read and rejected by a poet of that caliber.
She accepted me. Even though she identified some of my flaws (some of which I was well aware), she stated I had things to say and that she felt she could help me improve. So, from an academic studying her novels, I was a fellow-poet, a student who would have the chance of spending a week with her. She asked me if I wanted to participate. I answered immediately I was in! The group was formed and we had a page on facebook to introduce ourselves and discuss details.

Going north

Living a life as a researcher and student, it was not so easy to make ends meet. I would have to try the 
cheapest ways for transportation and accommodation. The planning started early and I decided I was going to fly from Tampa, FL to Boston, MA. They are major cities and the ticket prices would be more affordable. There was a problem: getting from Gainesville to Tampa. I ended up talking to a good friend who could drive me there, even though he never wakes up so early. We had a nice time, talking and listening to music and I am very thankful to Donavaun. People from Tampa airport were very polite, more than usual. Even people that worked on the security checks were super nice. I made a friend while I waited for my flight. One connection in Cleveland, I made another friend. I had interesting conversations.
From Logan Airport, I got a shuttle then the subway and after crossing the town and getting to the green line, there I was, in Waltham, a city just around the corner from Boston.

I was supposed to couchsurf there, with a guy named Will. He was a very nice host, respectful and eager to know me and my stories. We talked for some time, had a good time at a bar. On the next day we visited a place he had never been to before, Spectacle Island in the Harbor Area. We explored the island and the weather was perfect. After that, we had lunch at a pub and walked to the Freedom Trail, a red brick way taking us to many historic sites. We saw an old cemetery, and there were many people in the park. We saw one wedding happening and some other couple and their party were looking for places to take pictures. We walked through Boylston Street, Back Bay, and along the Charles River. Our last stop was Boston College, where he studies. We saw the buildings and entered the stadium. Then, I went to the city library to wait for my friend Nefyn. I was very happy about the chance of hanging out with him and it was a lovely evening talking about life. After that, I went back to a bar where Will was with friends watching the hockey game. Boston won and it was very nice to see all the happiness filling that crammed space. Back to his house, I started packing because we would leave early the next morning. He would give me a ride to get the bus to Cape Cod and to the next part of my great adventures.

domingo, 14 de julho de 2013

Travel log: Midwest

One of the things I decided I was going to study while I was living abroad was the culture of the place I was calling home. As my field of study is literature and art, it seemed very important that more than just read about it, I should go out and experience everything this big and diverse country has to offer.
Some years ago, while still living in São Paulo, I met a guy through a website called Couchsurfing.org. He was supposed to be hosted by me, but something happened and I was not able to host him. Anyway, we kept in touch and we found out we had a lot of ideas and projects in common. When I got here, even though we were living 1.833 km or 1.139 miles apart, I decided I should take a break to go there and visit him. He gave me the green light and plans started to unfold.
One of the decisions I made was that I was not flying there. It would be time-saving but I don’t like airports and the tickets were not so cheap, since I would be flying from and to regional airports. I made up my mind I was going to get there by bus. There is a bus company here called Megabus. It is one of the few companies they have and the buses are very good, double deck, skyview roofs, they have wifi and plug outlets, so I could be using my phone or computer all the time without fearing the battery would run low. The buses are clean and on time. Enough reasons to convince me it would be interesting to plan a road trip.
My friends here were curious about it. The culture of traveling by bus is not widespread. One should drive, as they all have their cars or they fly places. It sounded like an adventure even for the people who like adventures. And the most important thing was to be very thorough in my planning. I didn’t want anything to go wrong and leaving whatever to chance was not an alternative.

The itinerary

I had few options, from Gainesville it is either Atlanta or Orlando. As I had to go north, Atlanta was the first destination. From there, more options were available. I could go more to the north or west. It was what I did: from Atlanta, the next stop would be Memphis (with one short stop in Birmingham, Alabama). From Memphis, the next destination would be St. Louis. It is one city extreme east of Missouri, almost Illinois. From there, it would not take much time to cross the state and get to my destination. After making sure that would be the best way, I had to buy the tickets, as they sell only from point to point, not from origin to destination. It would be fundamental to pay attention to the boarding times so that I had shorter layovers but time enough to get there even taking some delay into consideration. The trip to go was perfect: leaving Gainesville at 1.45pm, getting to Atlanta 6.50pm and leaving at 10.45pm. I would make it to Memphis at 4.40am and the bus to St. Louis would leave at 6.10am. I would be there from 10.50am to 12.30pm and it would give me time to have lunch and at 7.20pm I would reach my destination. Total: 28 hours. Not that bad. I would have books to read and study and my friends on the phone.

Gainesville and Atlanta

As usual, I left the packing process for the last minute, so I forgot two things: my umbrella and a sweater. It was hot here and I was late, so I took some pasta and fruits as I had no time to have lunch. The trip was uneventful and I interacted with no one. On my way there, I remember my friend David was living in Atlanta and I thought of sending him a text message and it worked. He was going to have dinner with a friend who was visiting and I was welcome to join them. I told them about my adventures and the others I had already had. We had good food and beer. His friend Shirley was an adorable person. They drove me to the station where I was getting the bus and there I was, on the road again.

Memphis

We arrived in Memphis so early, I had slept through most of the night. I had a semi-drunk friend texting and it was very nice chatting with him. When we got to the stop, nothing was open, the bus dropped us outside the bus station. It was cold and I thought how stupid I had been of having forgotten a sweater. I just had to get some t-shirts and use them to wrap around my arms. Soon we were going to St. Louis. It was nice I interacted with some people who were there waiting for the same bus.

St. Louis

I walked away from the stop, towards downtown and the arch. I saw important buildings and a park. I was looking for a cheap place to eat. Also, on my way back I had to find a place to sleep there because I would arrive at 1.20am and leave at midday. I went to some hotels, even some very creepy-looking ones and they were very expensive. I walked many blocks, always paying attention to the time to go back and get my next bus. Lunch was a wrap and tea. And on the road again, going to Kansas City.

Kansas City – Sat night

I tried sleeping on the bus, but there was a guy listening to loud music. No one seemed to care so I tried to ignore it. We got there without any incidents and I texted my friend. It was 7.20 and he told me he would be picking me up at 8. So I started reading. At 8.30 he texted me he would be late. No wonder. He had some problems with Google Maps, an exit that did not exist and he got there 9.20. I was a little shirty because of the long hours traveling and my patience was running low. Let’s try my GPS to get to the hotel. The first adventure starts. We were driving OK and suddenly my GPS freezes. I reboot the phone and it is back online in time to tell me we should be turning right, out of the highway. He does, like a crazy person. Matter of seconds. Then, we are 2 minutes away from the destination, turn left. All the lanes are closed for repairs. Now what? Well, turn right. And the detour takes forever. When we are on the other side, I tell him, you should turn left, he misunderstands and there we are, past the place, back to where we were. We call the hotel, go all around that 2 mile detour, but with the girl giving us the directions, we manage to get to the hotel. We check in and go to the supermarket, to grab something to eat. After that, shower and I was sleezzzzzzzzz…

Kansas City – Sunday

We woke up and had a mix of things we bought for breakfast and some coffee and muffins the hotel offered. We got ready to have an early lunch with his friend – whose name I can’t remember. I just remember his family was from Thailand. We were going for some Dim Sum at Bo Ling’s. It was the first time I had Chinese like that: they came to the table and offered something. We would accept or decline and pay individually for each dish. After that, we headed for the museum of the city. We saw a lot of paintings and talked about art and about life. It was nice to see some local art and see the people on the streets. There was a park where we walked and even took a nap lying on the grass. Then, we went to an art gallery and finally drove downtown. We had ice creams and he helped me look for magnets. I have a collection of magnets from all the cities I have visited. We decided we were going back to the hotel to get some dinner and maybe go to some bar. And we did that. We went to a bar and a storm started. The winds were fast and it was dark at 5pm. A lot of lightning. There were some pool tables, we started playing and drinking exotic things like a Blood Mary which had celery and bacon, cheese and olives in it. Quite an experience! Then, back “home”, there was a kitchen in the room, so we cooked dinner – chicken, salad and shrimp – and talked some more.

Kansas City – Monday

I woke up a little later and Josiah was not around. I had breakfast and started reading. He came and said he needed to help a guy who he had just met and was having computer problems. We had one more hour and checked out. We drove to a different area, an artsy part of town. We saw a lot of street art and had brunch at Gratitude Café, a delicious and cool vegetarian restaurant. We walked around and then drove to Union Station. It was a very beautiful building, with restaurant and stores and even a science museum. We found the postcards and magnets I wanted and outside there was a fountain. Across the street from it, up a hill, there was a World War I memorial and museum. We walked upstairs and uphill but because it was Monday the museum was closed. Anyway, we had a wonderful view of the whole city.
We were getting hungry again after the exercise and the vegetarian soup, so we looked for a steakhouse and I tasted some of the local cuisine. Ribs and steak and even what they called a triple chocolate brownie (in Brazil we call it petit gateau).
Again, after lunch, it was time to go to the car and take a nap. We still had 20 minutes in the parking lot before the hour expired so we set an alarm and we took forty winks.
There was some time left and we drove to the city market. The bus stop was across the street from it. Most of the stalls and stores were closed but we went to a café and spent time, reading, talking and making friends with the attendant, who wanted to travel the world.
We sat at a square and saw people walking their dogs, exercising and we talked about the future. He dropped me at the station some hours before the bus would arrive. I read till an old lady came and started making conversation. She had a very strong accent but we chitchatted. The bus should be there at 7 something but we had to wait until 5 minutes before the time we should be departing. We were worried.

St. Louis

So, the night before I had been able to reach a hostel I had seen on the net. They said one could only check in between 6pm and 10pm. I was supposed to arrive at 1.30am. Would they be able to check me in? I called and called and when they finally answered, he told no, they wouldn’t. I told him my case, that I would be staying there from 1.30 to 9am and then I would go to the city for some tourism. If I didn’t stay there I had nowhere else to stay, so he said I should call them as soon as I got there, get a cab and he would open the door for me. In the end, he showed me where I was going to sleep and gave me sheets and a towel. I was alone in a room with about ten bunk beds. It smelled ancient. The shower was great and I was protected. The next morning I woke up and left the hostel. I bought some food to have as a brunch, explored the neighborhood and decided to walk downtown instead of taking a bus or a cab. It was a one hour walk. I got to Union Station, spent some time there. The plan was to spend the morning in a park with museums, but I was afraid of not making it back on time. So I stayed around and got my bus to Memphis.

Memphis

I got to Memphis at 5.30pm. It was raining cats and dogs. I had not needed a sweater up to that point but it was chilly. Also, I had no umbrella. So, I would have to wait about 5 hours for the next bus. And there was not much I could do. The rain eventually turned into drizzle and I decided I was going to explore the surroundings. I had to find a place to have dinner. I started to walk and there was no one around. It was creepy but I was going up Main Street. And after some blocks I realized I was walking downtown-ward. I saw important buildings, squares and the neighborhood looked better. I got to Beale Street, a famous street with many bars and restaurants. I had dinner in a 1950’s style diner, root beer, burger and fries. I got my magnets and decided it was time to go back to the station. Instead of walking, I got the trolley, which also smelled ancient. Only elderly people and tourists were riding with me. It was fun. And when I got back to the station, it started raining again. Perfect timing!

Atlanta


Back to Atlanta, I was going to get the bus after lunch. But I had enjoyed spending time with David so much that I postponed the ticket for the early one the next day and I was going to spend the day and night there. As he was working during the day, I had to find things to do. I went to the Cyclorama, a museum and rotating painting about the Civil War. It was very interesting to know what had happened at that time. It was a bit expensive but worth it. Beside the museum, there was a zoo. It was not so big, but I walked a lot and saw all the animals. Even though it was a weekday there were tons of kids with their parents. Both attractions were in a park and after having lunch and walking a bit more, I went to the park and found a nice tree, under which I laid and took a nap. It was almost time to go to where I would meet my friend. We met, got groceries, as I was supposed to cook him dinner. We cooked and went to the swimming pool, not to swim, just to see the moon and talk. Then, back to the apartment we decided to watch a movie and then slept. On the following day, I got to Gainesville, rode my bike back home and continued working on my dissertation.

sábado, 13 de julho de 2013

The Crossing

There were no ducks in Duckpond.
Only the clouds checking their hairdos
and make-up.
The sunrays lick my skin, skinny dipping.

One step and the water embraces my calves.
It is cold and dark and pulsating with life.
One more step, the discomfort
increases. Everyone else is in, but I am afraid of diving.

I move so fast, I am startled by
such boldness.
My head throbs and I feel the pressure in my ears
when water and silence try to penetrate them.

I swim almost touching the bottom
My eyes are open but I can barely see.
Stroke stroke breathe.
I look at the other side, it is calling to me.

Stroke stroke flip over.
My feet delve for the muddy soil, in vain.
On my own. Stroke stroke breathe.
You must keep going!

I reach the other side. I want to whoop and celebrate.
But I can just open my mouth, sounds fail me. So tired.
I let go of the piece of wood I had clung to.
Hugging my legs, I let myself float in this new womb.

In seconds, I stretch and move faster than thought.
I ought to go back.
Stroke stroke flip over. Look! Out of the blue, the sky is turning grey.
Thunder in the distance and I am sure
the sky is laughing at me.

Stroke stroke desperately.
I am almost back.
The sun had doubted me, so it hides behind the newly conjured
clouds. It does not see me feeling the slushy bottom, standing up

and gulping for air. I realize then I had found it!
Not on the other side
but exactly where I had started
the poem I was looking for.




(written for the workshop, Wellfleet, 2013) 

domingo, 31 de março de 2013

Setting out again



I take an old amateurish harp
from under the bed.
I feel the dust dancing around me –
time’s fairies –
and sticking to my finger.
It must have been my great-grandmother's.
Now, it belongs to me—an accident.
The wires crave rust to come eat them.

I reach out for a sheet.
I cannot play it without
(you) following the guidelines.
Now, I just have to follow the dotted line, note after note.

My mind withdraws –
fetal position –
and I see him in front of me.
This makes the distance increase.
Who are you, stranger that I love?
How come you’re here?

The one meant to protect and care for me,
throws words like darts.
They pierce and I cringe.
Your hands are so cold. You look so thin.
Why are you avoiding the mirror,
my friend? Why is your handshake so feeble?
I wish things were like they used to be.
I guess it's too much wishing.

And as he vanishes I see her.
The one who should be someone else.
The one who made me change
Up to a point I was lost and found.

She just made an excuse, mumbled some words,
it's better if..., we'd better stop...
I bowed. I said I agree, you always know what's right
and hugged her,
so that she could not see the tears running down my face.
(They only see what they want.)

Suddenly, I am with them no more.
I feel the warmth and
use my hands to shield my eyes from
a blinding light.
I am the new Elijah!
I did savor the past, feasted on the scraps
they kept throwing me,
like a fucking pigeon.

I climb one step.
I stop to give them a chance to
say goodbye.
Another step, and my soul is peeling off
feelings like dirt.
(but I’m here in my mold?)

I get into this chariot of fire,
softly, gently,
as if it was home.
Where to? the angelic conductor asks
in a firm but melancholy voice.
He sees it as clearly as I do.
To the old me, please.

quarta-feira, 27 de fevereiro de 2013

Could you send it to Marcos, please?


(a free version of this)

Today, on the street, I saw a boy
who was just like you. Same face, same sway.
Maybe it was you indeed,
even though I knew it wasn’t
because it couldn’t be.
It didn’t matter. I acted just as I would have
even if I was sure it was you, casting that shadow,
standing there, by the gutter.

I would have stopped to tell you the news.
I’m on a diet, you know, and my watch
is early again.
I am not supposed to have time to gobble your words
and no longer clean my fingers full of
oil and blood
and man milk (sometimes),
face and hands smeared after swallowing.

It’s been a really long time since I last felt
the sweet taste of your rhyming
or your vernacular caresses.
Your slap on the cheek, with kid gloves,
me or whoever reads in between the lines.
So, I just let myself be haunted by your
rainy smile, by the orange sign with politics
you were carrying when I saw you.
Why was I wet and embarrassed
when you asked me to put it up too?

Even if you were here and not in another country,
we would be unconnected, out of touch.
You know, family, the kids, not easy to be the breadwinner.
I don’t know if you are one too. No pressure!
I prefer to think you are married to a ghostly muse
that feeds on your images and thoughts.
Am I digressing? This was meant to thank you.
(is it a defiance to art to call my own work this? Are you slighted?)

It is supposed to be a eulogy, a kind of prayer.
Not that I am comparing you to God,
you know? I don’t inflate egos like I do
those sculpture balloons.
I would never dare underestimate your
wits. You? Mr. One-Step-Ahead?
So I’d better come to an end, as our story never does.
(It also had more beginnings than one).

How I met you could be a script of a noir movie.
J’ai peur du noir.
Luckily we left the lights on all the time.
Now, we’ve got to turn them off.
Have I mentioned the bills, the imaginary wife with the rolling pin?
I’ll get my umbrella, yes, I will, but until I open it
I’ll let life sprinkle me again,
smiling like you a little bit more.

sexta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2013

Truce in Troy



I sing, o Elena, an ode to you! I take an instrument and twang it,
it’s no harp, but I make a melody of this hum.
Let my song be water, flooding,
splashing your expectations.
Answer me with detergent:
your gasps will be soap bubbles.

Give this man what he’s looking for. Reciprocate.
Are you really looking at me, Helen?
Observe how I wade in this swampy terrain.
Poems make me mad as a fortune-teller,
a butcher. I offer my palm, you give me yours:
bloody raw meat. What I write is your future. And mine.

So, Elena, I’ll teach you! See me scrub out the blood
of desire, the sweat of dreams; I want clean white
images and metaphors.
Let’s have a division of labor and subvert it right away.
Now you teach me to love deeply, live a good life,
suffer and heal, try harder than I ever have.

When your voice returns to my ears, a crooked echo,
full of static and a new melody,
I’ll praise you, muse for the blessings
and for the urge to plunge my hands
into the dirty suds
of another poem.

quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2013

Yield, bitch!



I

There are several ways that lead
me to where I am not.
They start here 
with me 
and go through all
my friends, who are my bridges. 

I remember once I asked a friend out.
(he – could be she – is representing a certain group)
Just for small talk. Maybe coffee. Definitely laughter.
He bailed and bailed until my last hair
had dropped. I am too busy, 
he said. And his life was a bullet express train 
and I guess he saw me waving
from the platform.

They say we see things differently from a train
in movement. They say the faster the train goes
the more still the landscape will look.
They say if you are as fast as light,
you see the atoms stopped at their platforms,
waving with their 
tacky gipsy-styled 
electron handkerchiefs.

The thing is, the trick of perspective,
I, standing there, in that platform
one station called life
or something like that
I, as far as I can be concerned,
(and I was)
did not see anything. It was just a blur
passing in front of my eyes and
I knew he was in there.
I shouted, at the top of my voice,
Yield, bitch! Here I am!
(but apparently, speed hampers hearing too)

II
Last week I traveled. I went to places
you would never believe. One they call the
Big Apple. There was indeed a silvery one
but I guess that came after and was a coincidence.

There were buildings tickling the skies
And lights everywhere.
And people. People walking and talking 
I felt like I was 
in a God-just-confused Babel.
They were everywhere, even in my dreams.
I was afraid of getting home
taking off my shoes
and having someone in one of them 
with a map saying, mi scusi, io sono lost.

I fell in love with the smells and the noise.
It was what made me cherish my silence more.
And as I walked, mind you, I started to worry
and hurry as the rest.
However, the small things, the flakes of snow
a piece of street art, some picture in a museum
were telling me I should slow down
I could hear them hissing
in unison
Yield, bitch! Because here we are.

III
Going to Boston, from Chinatown
A singing and grumpy Chinese bus driver,
was talking on the phone, mind you.
All the time. How he
grumbled! And how rude he was to the guys
begging for a password. No wifi for you.

People got fancier.
Colder weather, warmer heart.
Soup and brief encounters.
Rocks, statues, miles and miles of
history and art.
And after midnight, it was time to sneak out
and explore the roofs of the neighborhood.
Precise as a street cat,
silent to get in and out. Licking my fur proudly afterwards.

Also, as a bout of fever
(never saw it coming)
passion's fingers wrapped around me
and my shields went transparent.
Yield, bi... Wait! He did.
IV

And there was the last step.
In a set of stairs that was not going
up or down.
Now it was Washington, the capital of the world.
Or of the empire. So they say.
Marble and paint vomiting history.
We even touched the moon.
Experiences side by side, as the Smithsonian museums.
Smiles and fun. Feet blisters.
When you were ice-skating it was so amusing
that huge penguins wouldn't let you fall.

New friends, one
that was worth more than a hundred
Capitolios.
Yield, b... OK. I guess I am just tired.

V
So life went on
One day at a time.
And more people came,
some vanished.
Others would never stop.
Hey, busy one, I keep yelling,
Yield, bitch!
Or run over me.

(But if you do,
please be decent, 
do not dare looking back.) 

quarta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2013

Crime Scene Reconstruction

version of my poem - Reconstituição do Crime

To my new friend Taryn



On the criminal

He feels his heart pumping, more and more.
Each drumbeat stretches all fibers in
his celebrating being, one by one.
Alcohol fluster the senses, everything
seems more
alive.
Colors acquire new shades, shapes melt into
thin air?
Feet moving swiftly, trying to follow the rhythm
of the music that comes from every side.
Shouting, laughter, it's a party. It is Carnival.
It always is, when there is fun. Libertas quae sera tamen.
Hands to the sky, are they pointing that way, or this?
They rub each other restlessly, like a bear scratching on a tree,
rabbits mating.
Happiness overflows him, and oozes from every pore.
He feels grand, enormous, whole.
Sweat drips down his nape till the bottom of his spine,
unplanned tickling. He sweats as if he was all water,
not just the 70%. Wet hands, beer breath, drops of malt.
Gaze lost in the spotlight, open smile.
The restive hands entangled in the shirt's cloth, uselessly
trying to dry themselves.
In a sudden movement, the shock.
Bare hands. Broken euphoria.
Better lose the saddle (or the ring). Than the horse (or the hand).

On the victim

I remember well when I was one among many.
I had nothing special, no stone, nothing.
Many came to see me, but I remained there, the only
place I knew.
Still. Fearing the unknown out there, but willing
to be an explorer.
Days, nights.
I feel a hand, fumbling, carefully? And when I see,
freedom.
God help me! But the sensation is wonderful. Colors, lights, smells,
everything. I am carried away,
right left up and down
What a huge world, Lord!
I try to communicate, in vain.  I’m mute, aren’ t I?
And fettered, I follow.
One day, it is a party. I feel proud. I am passively happy,
leeching someone else's joy.
I am a symbol. I am aware of that. I am an accessory, I
embellish and complement.
I am just as intoxicated. So many movements and sensations.
I belong and suddenly
The abyss.
I have always feared the abyss. And when I come to my senses again,
I a m a l o n e.
Is this hitting bottom? Full of confetti and serpentines?
The empty and dented cans, plastic bottles, I had imagined.
It is so cold in here, so frightening.
The party no longer makes sense.
How could I be so overlooked?
Lost. In life.
Better lose the ring of the saddle... what remains, again? The horse hand?
Better be alone than in bad company.

On the accomplice (or hero?)

The party flows like a river, rapids and lull.
Everything is new, yet more of the same.
Earnest joy, however incomplete. Sine qua non.
A friendship, shared laughter. I am fine.
Her bead necklace breaks, what a feeling!
Her ring loses its fake emerald, they say green means hope.
Where is the green stone?
Tired, hours of leaps and swing. Like a snake serpentining
on the dancefloor.
My friend takes another train and she travels around the room,
how does she conga! She is overjoyed.
My gaze goes from stage to people, to the ground.
Where is the damn green stone?
Where is what I don't see here?
Something is missing.
I hear a scream.
No, I hear a glow.
I see near me, on the ground, a ring. It is lonely. Like me (I wasn't or shouldn't be
but so tired, for a few seconds, a cloud covers my sun).
At that very moment, our souls touch.
Or mine reflects in its metallic surface,
Lacan and his mirrors.
An impulse, which I keep to myself.
Is it mine? No.
Better leave life as it is. Why should I change it?
I subvert myself. I bend down and catch it. It nests in the palm of my hand.
An engagement ring?
But it is not engaging anything. Anymore. It is out of context, just a ring.
Like finding a needle in a haystack, nitpicking.
But what can I do?
It is easier if I let it slip through my fingers like sand, may other people find it!
(and be haunted by its past and responsible for its present)
Damn! Am I putting it on?
It turns into an engagement ring to myself. We speak the same language and are no longer lonely.
Not alone.
Better lose the saddle, the ring, the temper. Or get them. Who cares about horses, hands or love?
Its future?
It's in the hands of God.
And a bird in the hand is better than two... on the ground.

sexta-feira, 18 de janeiro de 2013

Brief Encounters

You were just some spins away.
I saw pieces of you, never
whole.
Then, we sat and talked, about life and
the way the world is and the
way it should be.

You touched me. I don't
remember if it was a handshake only or
a hug or maybe we kissed.
I guess I touched you
too. We might have stripped. It is not
so clear.
And I was not drunk.
And I cannot wash it away.

Afterwards, you disappeared. You turned
into letters, broken sentences,
shattered images. I shall
never see you again.
But you are in me. And I cannot forget
those eyes.
The way they reflected the world around
them and there was more.

In your smile, there was electricity.
In your hands, there was
(un)fulfilled promises.

In your didactism I saw
or felt (sometimes I get blind)
the universe speaking to me.

You only lasted a few instants,
but those made me see
what life is all about.

PS - I keep wondering, heir of the Celtics,
what kind of sorcery I should do
just to have another
moment,
even a tiny one,
to see the universe in your your eyes

to commune again.