Poetry

Two caligrafías by Adriana Lisboa

The Present

for Claudia Roquette-Pinto

At the red light a boy asks me for a handout. He sees my weary face, my muscles signalling urgent needs, my life catching its breath, my fears. At the red light I say I’m fleeing from something toward something else far away.

The boy gives me a handout: his smile. As time stands still, I realise it’s me smiling in the boy while it’s me here on this side, in my car, and the boy and I share our gaze.

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Two Poems by Ramon Mello

 

Tiles

at the selarón

staircase songs

shattered feelings

coloured under

the rain walking

for months

two hundred and

fifteen degrees to

find out he

does not accept

the black

umbrella it’ll

be a revenge

they ask

 

Havaianas

I put an ad in the paper

I’ve asked everyone

but no one has news from you

meanwhile the flip-flops

continue to rest in the laundry

area behind the door between

the mop and the floor cloth

since that night I’ve only

walked barefoot

it’s my protest

 

 

Written by Ramon Mello and translated by Thereza Rocque da Motta.

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Ramsey Nasr — I wish I was two citizens (then I could live together)

 

and this is my poem, come on in

don’t be afraid, ignore the echo

let us begin in emptiness

welcome to my crater of light

 

once we gathered, you and I, remember

revived by the cool gleam of a rummer

our shadows like finest crystal

our fame as glancing as the light that falls

on a letter read by a woman becalmed

 

we were gold dusted

pale, almost translucent with love

lowering our eyes before each other

 

and we loved to do penance

if someone asked how we were

we answered truthfully

ashamed to our boots, sir

firmly convinced

that we ourselves had scourged

our very own lord

and crucified him personally

the certainty of the apocalypse

was branded on our retinas

 

what happened in the few short centuries

we looked the other way?

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Two prose poems by Nyk de Vries

 

Progress

A small group was passing through the street with Bibles in their hands. My father was standing next to me, grinning. He said, “Those people still believe in God.” He probably stopped to think about what he’d just said. The word “still” implied progress. “Those people still believe in God.” It suggested levels of increasing insight. My father sniffed and mumbled, “We still believe in progress.” Silently we watched the slight figures until the small group had disappeared around the corner.

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In the service of blood by Michel Houellebecq

Translated by Delphine Grass and Timothy Mathews

 

I no longer go on trips, really,

Because I know the place

And I know my rights,

And I’ve lived through rage.

In the service of humanity,

In the middle of the estate,

I know my bedroom well

And feel the night descend.

Angels take flight

In the glory of heaven

They will find God;

And the women have fun.

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APRIL

Two Poems by David Hermann

Bacteria Street Circus

scan the detail for spectators
blind maestro

hear the hoopla
when they zoom

up and down
into and through

desk city
microbe avenue

ashen spheres
and pill shaped acids

dancing
logarithms

here

among your pens
and paper thrives

sophisticated
biosphere

fissioning aficionados
take their microscopic seats

in microscopic opera houses
built in microscopic streets

raise your hand and with a whisper
spin your silly fairy tales

it is with ease that you will please
the crowd beneath your fingernails

Pseudomorph

Pseudomorph: Some octopi and squid, when threatened, eject ink in a blob about the same size and shape as their bodies, leaving a phantom copy of themselves (a pseudomorph) hanging in the water, as the original makes its escape.

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April auf dem Lande by Cees Nooteboom

 

 

It was summer and winter.

The water by the river,

how it rose.

Mist between the hills.

In the valley the expensive villas,

shuttered, white and pink.

Fox and owl

hidden out of sight,

a work day for herons and mice.

And the man who loved women lonely,

not thinking about the birds.

Dew or rain

on the serrated leaves,

the call of a train

from the depths.

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Man Said by Helen Silverstein

Man Said

Helen Silverstein

Man said, girl done got herself knocked up.

Woman said, Ima help her mama kill the man done this.

Man said, could see this one comin’ mile way.  Girl actin’ like a slut.

Woman said, girl ain’t nothing but a child. What kinda man touch a child like that?

Man said, her mama shoulda teach her better, watch her better.

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Colombina by Paul Verlaine

Pierrot who on cricket’s
legs legs it through thickets—
one leap—
Cassander (old hoodie),
Leander the goody-
shoes creep,

and Harlequin (Domin-
o’s eyes have an omin-
ous look:
the outfit’s so natty
it’s positive that he
’s a crook
)

are all thumping guitars an’
pretending they’re Tarzan,
beguiled
in a pile-drive entreaty
of Little Miss Pretty,
this child

whose eyes are a message
denying her undressage
with such
a defense of her fair butt
as says “You may stare, but
don’t touch!”

Ye planets whose motion
can scupper an ocean
of ships!!

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Progress in Progress by Paul Lyalls

There are no horizons in a city,

only those within yourself.

I couldn’t tell where the city ended

and the people began,

there were only individuals

with crowd-like tendencies

and eternal hopefuls

dreaming of big fat redundancies.

I went through every street in the city

and couldn’t find one person whom I remotely liked.

The revolving doors of human happiness

were jammed shut with people

pushing in every direction

apart from the right one.

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Alone by Joseba Sarrionandia

Translated by Linda White

She’s alone in the world.
She loves getting letters, but when she looks in the mailbox it’s always empty.
She decided to write to herself. She put the letter in an envelope and wrote her address on it twice, once as the recipient and once as the sender.
She went out for a walk down the empty streets and dropped the letter in a random city mailbox.

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Briar Neck, 1912 by Ernest Farrés

Barren, sun-baked and glistening
from rough weather, rocky crags with deep
gnawn-away gorges and warped landings
hanging plant growth
and rubble as the base of cliffs
descend as far as the sea.
The sea! An eagle
at odds with blackbirds and finches,
a debauchery of countenances
and murmurs fading beneath the arch of the sky,
a mass of indigo gleaming
in the filtered sunlight,
a terminus.

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murrai is pondering… by Antón R Reixa

murrai is pondering a profound study on
ignorance but does not want to devote himself to writing it
until he acquires greater general unknowledge
yes yes the paper towels for
after

(From Stories of Rock-and-Roll, 1985)

Antón R Reixa (born 1957) is one of the most radical innovators in Galician poetry. Since the 1980s he has been experimenting with multimedia poetry and artists books.

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Two poems from Edward Hopper by Ernest Farrés

Railroad Train, 1908

No sooner is the caboose
out of sight than they’ve
already forgotten you.
It’s like losing clout or taking
a load off their minds. That’s just
how they, who are out
to lunch or do nothing
with their lives, wash their hands
of you. Got it? Yet the trains you catch
are determined, air-conditioned, carnivorous,
in fine fettle.

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