Poems From The Portuguese
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The Lisbon Collection


13 Julho, 2018By bitcliq

As in any other labyrinth, these street corners
only make sure that there are no certainties
on the road to the future. But that I knew already
on the other side of the mountains where it’s common
to feel spied on when walking through
the most discreet pine forest.
Lisbon has never been as I had once imagined it.
And nevertheless I come here on the customary
peregrination, having however no idea what I am to pray for.
Indecisions of faith and of its minute leaver
which, inordinately, we call heart.

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Rua Diário de Notícias

We can hardly move
with so much music.
We are, therefore, here
to serve an exact purpose.
We look like generals
on horses.
Here’s the battlefield
where defeat awaits us:
the street corners that wind
till our last yawn
and people listening
to their own story
in the songs.
Music, not time,
can heal certain wounds.

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The loneliness of the afternoon sets out what Lisbon
carries in its encamped promontory:
half faces in cadenzas of backlighting
awnings axing sunlight on the esplanades,
piled up walls, windows and ironwork
spilling down to the Tagus
where the city’s voices drown.

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Lisbon is not Alexandria but then
Alexandria is only a metropolis
heightened and exalted in verse, its geometry,
its incisions of small despair.
Give me a city, for this which is mine
is tired and I don’t want any other,
give me steps always going down,
old palace balconies,
give me an Alexandria of thought,
with an antiquity that gilds every hour,
every afternoon, but a false,
hyperbolic antiquity,
subtle from being so often imagined, unreal city.
Lisbon is not Alexandria and is tired, there
were places I knew, others hidden,
there are routes I conjecture as the crowds
advance, feast days,
window settings, sills.
I don’t want this river, nor that other,
the Heraclytian one, offered to me
in some abridged complete works on the bookshelf.
Give me an earthly city, without posterity
or tongue, a city where I may
open the past of its streets
and, with no other purpose, breathe.

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Lisbon light

The light crossing the room between
the two windows is always the same, although
on one side it’s west – where the sun is now – and on
the other it’s east – where the sun has already been. In the room
west and east meet, and it is this light
that makes my gaze uncertain for not knowing
which hour held the first light. Then I look at the thread
of light stretched between both windows, as if
it had no beginning and no end; and
I start pulling it inwards into
the room, winding it up, as if I could
use it to tie up both ends
of the day into midday, and let the time be
stopped between two windows, west
and east, until the thread
unwinds, and everything
begins all over again.

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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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Lisbon –

January twenty eleven – this
sky of yours and of the cold months seems
to inebriate the birds and spread out
at length. The slow light of the dead
pool hands its face back to us
at each of your tired corners and
wounded angles, in which I still find
myself gathering the residues of
a fabulous age. Your castaways
float on the surface of these acid
gardens of shadows, shadows sharpening
their beaks on tombstones, distractedly preying:
gaze that enjoys the abandonment
under the wing of late afternoon.

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Pink Elegy

28 Abril, 2017By bitcliq

I’m the son of those who fought on the 25th of April 1974
so that I might stay at home, bored, writing
about what I’ll never be.
I’m not heroic except perhaps in my own style.
I’m a tragi-comic, a tremendous sensationalist,
I can be bought on every badly lit street corner
in this city of fluorescent vortexes which didn’t see me born.

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