Poems From The Portuguese
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Manuel de Freitas

(B. 1972)

Starting from described or narrated minimal facts - and with an almost total absence of lyrical or metaphorical pomp - Manuel de Freitas is able to lift his verse to a universal condition, in ultimate and brief lines. He thus goes beyond sharing poetry with his readers: he brings to them a non-appropriation and leaves a lasting effect of disturbing estrangement.

Manuel de Freitas was born in Vale de Santarém and lives in Lisbon. He is a publisher, a literary critic and the editor of the literary magazine Telhados de Vidro.

Poetry books since 2000:

Todos Contentes e Eu Também (2000), Os Infernos Artificiais (2001), Isilda ou a Nudez dos Códigos de Barras (2001), BMW 244 (2001), Game Over (2002), [SIC] (2002), Beau Séjour (2003), Büchlein für Johann Sebastian Bach (2003), Levadas (2004), O Coração de Sábado à Noite (2004), Blues for Mary Jane (2004), Juxta Crucem Tecum Stare (2004), Vai e Vem (2005), Aria Variata (2005), Jukebox (2005), Qui passe, for my Ladye (2005), A Flor dos Terramotos (2005), Cretcheu Futebol Clube (2006), Juros de Demora (2007), Terra Sem Coroa (2007), Walkmen (with José Miguel Silva) (2007), Brynt Kobolt (2008), Estádio (2008), Jukebox (2008), Boa Morte (2008), Intermezzi, Op. 25 (2008), Brynt Kobolt (2008), Opera Omnia (2009), Jukebox 1 & 2 (2009), Canções Usadas (collective edition of poetry and illustration, with Rui Pires Cabral e José Miguel Silva) (2009), Isilda ou a Mudez dos Códigos de Barras (2010), A Nova Poesia Portuguesa (2010), Cólofon (2012), Pontas do Mar (2013), Game over (2017)



There are poems which, as they are, don’t need
to be written; just summoned,
spoken quietly to no one else.
The city will take you wherever it will,
indifferent to the passion or preciseness of your steps.
Who has ever been at 5, Toldbodgade
will promptly agree.

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In six years time, you’ll be
little more than this: the bookmark
you signed, suddenly found again,
a sentence that could be a line
(‘I’ve never been able to love never’)
half way through a book and my life.
Let’s for once forget the misunderstandings,
the hurt wounded way
your lips touched the roll-up
paper – and got burnt (that same book
told me that the Sept 12, 1996 coach ticket
to Seixal didn’t make it as filter).
I’d turn elsewhere to ask if art can be the reason
for art, while jealousy (growing
in the dark) may perhaps strike the best pages.
Or I wouldn’t even do that: the morning outside
is a renewed promise of forsakenness
and I’ve just watched Mamma
Roma – another film, a whole life,
keeping us apart.
When, after all, nothing
of this nothing remains ‘as I sail out to die’
with the last memory of your name.

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A beer, an esplanade, pigeons
pattering around the scrawny shrubs
– a sort of untouchable peacefulness.
I think how this very moment would be different
had I been admitted to hospital for a month,
at the mercy of tests and a firm promise of death.

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Where it says God, it should say death.
Where it says poetry, it should say nothing.
Where it says literature, it should say what?
Where it says I , it should say death.
Where it says love, it should say Inês .
Where it says cat, it should say Barnabé.
Where it says friendship, it should say friendship.
Where it says pub, it should say salvation.
Where it says pub, it should say perdition.
Where it says world , it should say get me out of here.
Where it says Manuel de Freitas, it must
surely be a very sad place.

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13 Julho, 2018By bitcliq

All will be lost, of course. But I’ll
certainly remember those red eyes
of a cat in Alfama* and all the poems
I didn’t write against myself
in that square, open to entrapment and dissipation.
Red wine, joints, passions being mocked
in a dialogue of absent-minded guitars.
It was your twenty-fourth birthday, for sure,
and you said, more than self-assured, that those eyes
in the night belonged to a female cat. Lost, regained light,
when one recognises the insecurity, the difficult
belonging to this sort of people,
a community of disinherited wasters whom
the moustached waiter once called
‘that drunken lot’. For this
relentlessness, we well know, is life
or death, a lasting loss
not easily extinguished under siege
of knifes or useless, vigorous
sentiments. Love, for instance,
that strange mixture of anguish, desire
and anguish again. The not-only-sex
mood as one goes to sleep in the proper arms
that keep the world at bay for ever.
But I end up staggering up the stairs
just when the neighbour of the flat below
is getting ready to become a highly
respectable person, in the local butcher’s,
where he finds the meaning of life.
And it isn’t pain, or pleasure, or
resentment that a body
experiences at six in the morning, sunk
in the unwilling mud of these verses.
It’s rather like a defective emptiness, a
homeless wound that no lips,
not even yours, could seal.
You turned twenty-four, as I said.
Don’t expect much from happiness.

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