Poems From The Portuguese
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João Luís Barreto Guimarães

(B. 1967)

João Luís Barreto Guimarães is a poet who claims for himself an ethnographer’s image. There is an idea of urbanity in his poetry - both metropolitan and peripheral - and an idea of everyday life - his daily life as a doctor peeks out of each line in the manner of William Carlos Williams. His are ways that inflict on the ‘common places’ a disconcerting lyrical sabotage (which is also ironical) that has no parallel in the most recent Portuguese poetry.'

João Luís Barreto Guimarães is a plastic surgeon and lives in Leça da Palmeira, north of Porto.

Poetry books since 2000:

Lugares Comuns (2000), 3 (Poesia 1987-1994) (2001), Rés-do-Chão (2003), Luz Última (2006), A Parte pelo Todo (2009), Poesia Reunida (2011), Você está aqui (2013), Mediterrâneo (2016)

Poems

Beer & regrets

21 Setembro, 2018By bitcliq

Days: I lay them on my skin. God (or
something like Him) is certainly
behind this Sunday afternoon (as
summer begins to end in
its immense labyrinths)
we’re looking out for defeats inch
by inch. Sometimes
(more distracted) we are
technically happy
evenly cracking nuts open (like surgeons of the brain)
untwisting croissants in search of
the infinite. But
do you know when you taste
defeat despite being a winner?
You cannot wholly succeed when
you have time as your enemy.

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Still Life

The books
left behind in Jan’s flat spoke
different languages. You could go through the shelves
(collecting borderlands)
trying to guess who may have bequeathed them
(who knows if in retaliation
for the course of the plot)
perhaps: due to some
non-sharing zeal. Pacing around the flat rented out
for so long I greeted
in the forgotten books the experience of the world
(small tears on the spines
witnessing their journey)
the neglect of a company not yet ready
for death. Time in which a hand (mine
yours:
reader) might yet extract
life from all that stillness.

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Fresh Bread

Slave of what comes up I write it
because it happens (the poetry malaise:
I wish poetry on no one). What
do you scribble on paper when you are buying a pen?
Something like ‘the metaphor
resists the metonymy’ or
‘the day will come that simply talking
will be poetry’? This
(excuse me)
poem is one possibility:
poetry is in such things
(fresh bread)
uncover it.

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Deception to the rule

To sit down and see
others passing by is
my favourite exercise. It’s entertaining.
It’s not draining.
It’s for free. In this counter-game of mine
it’s for the others to pass
(I entrust to the others the task
of passing by). I wash my feet of it.
I write from the inside of life.
It may even seem that thus I
will be going nowhere but who
is willing to go
to the place where others go?

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Botox®

My hands are sought by a woman
in her forties
requesting the delay of autumn that falls on her tired
eyes: ‘only want to lose ten years’. And
I probe what bitter taste may have lingered
to have her wishing to punish
some ten years of her life –
and find myself regretting not being able to delete memories
only wrinkles
and fine lines (slightly
marked ruins). In the pitfalls of time
nobody falls by mistake:
skin can’t be purged by the decade but at best
line by
line.

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An autumnal emergency

The colours of the baked open apple
in the last throes of summer anticipate in the palate
an autumnal emergency.
It’s an invitation for home
this apple I wounded and whose torso I sprinkled
with cézannes of cinnamon.
Underneath the tanned skin (its
colour a sinful-yellow) the
taste is perennial. See just
how naked they lie
the robes along the plate
(like the clothes of indecorous girls trailing
on the floor).

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