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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Todas as minhas coisas são tuas

Leonardo Gandolfi

Quando fiz Do you know the way

to San Jose, preparei algumas variantes

que acabaram ficando de fora da versão final,

gravada em 1968 por Dionne Warwick.

A mais importante delas talvez tenha sido

uma pequena quebra de andamento

mais ou menos na metade da música,

indicada sobretudo por uma mudança de nota

nos três trompetes que, naquele instante,

preenchiam os espaços em branco.

Isso, apesar de rápido, sempre me remetia

a um tempo em que meu pai me levava

ao bar a meio quilômetro da nossa casa.

As cordas de um piano que eu nunca mais

ouviria. Anos depois, toda vez que toco

Do you know the way to San Jose, penso

no meu pai. A música que fiz com certeza

não fala disso, a suspeita a um só tempo

oportuna e desacreditada que nos separa

dos nossos. Frio antigo e úmido que,

como depois percebi, da ação até a demora

não leva nem mesmo alguns segundos

translated from Portuguese by Farnoosh Fathi

Everything I Have Is Yours

When I wrote Do you know the way

to San Jose, there were a few flourishes

in the arrangement that didn’t make the final cut

recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1968.

The most noteworthy of these was perhaps

a small break in the rhythm midway

through the song, further indicated by a

note change from three trumpets that were,

at that time, filling blank spaces.

Although quick, that break always reminded

me of when my father used to take me

to a bar half a mile from our house,

the chords of a piano I would never hear again.

Now, years later, when I play Do you

know the way to San Jose, I think

of my father. The song I wrote certainly

doesn’t tell of this, the suspicion both

fitting and unreasonable that keeps us apart

from our own. A damp old chill that,

as I was later to realize, from action to stall

lasts no more than a few seconds.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

pouca coisa

Angélica Freitas

não calcula a perda ao comprar a caixa de alfinetes (da china)
e tampouco de onde vão despontar com suas cabeças (chatas)
e maldiz mao tsé quando sai uma gota de sangue (do dedo)
e quando vê um alfinete na rua não pega (nem morta)
mesmo se igual aos que pontuam as blusas (no armário)
e que rocem na pele produzindo vermelhos (tão raros)
e que alguém sonhe com alfinetes (na china)
na vida só valem às dúzias (é claro)

(translated from Portuguese by Farnoosh Fathi)

one more (tiny) thing

don’t calculate what you’ve lost in buying a box of pins (made in china)
and from where exactly they emerge with heads (flat)
and your cursing mao tse when a drop of blood appears (from the finger)
and when you find a pin in the street, leave it there (it’s not dead)
the same kind of pin pointing to the blouses (in your closet)
and brushing your skin it produces a red (so rare)
and someone is dreaming of pins (in china)
in this life only valued by a dozen (clearly)

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Margaret Atwood (1995)

All those times I was bored
out of my mind. Holding the log
while he sawed it. Holding
the string while he measured, boards,
distances between things, or pounded
stakes into the ground for rows and rows
of lettuces, and beets, which I then (bored)
weeded. Or sat in the back
of the car, or sat still in boats,
sat, sat, while at the prow, stern, wheel
he drove, steered, paddled. It
wasn't even boredom, it was looking,
looking hard and up close at the small
details. Myopia. The worn gunwales,
the intricate twill of the seat
cover. The acid crumbs of loam, the granular
pink rock, its igneous veins, the sea-fans
of dry moss, the blackish and then the greying
bristles on the back of his neck.
Sometimes he would whistle, sometimes
I would. The boring rhythm of doing
things over and over, carrying
the wood, drying
the dishes. Such minutiae. It's what
the animals spend most of their time at,
ferrying the sand, grain by grain, from their tunnels,
shuffling the leaves in their burrows. He pointed
such things out, and I would look
at the whorled texture of his square finger, earth under
the nail. Why do I remember it as sunnier
all the time then, although it more often
rained, and more birdsong?
I could hardly wait to get
the hell out of there to
anywhere else. Perhaps though
boredom is happier. It is for dogs or
groundhogs. Now I wouldn't be bored.
Now I would know too much.
Now I would know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Imagined

Stephen Dunn (2012)

If the imagined woman makes the real woman
seem bare-boned, hardly existent, lacking in
gracefulness and intellect and pulchritude,
and if you come to realize the imagined woman
can only satisfy your imagination, whereas
the real woman with all her limitations
can often make you feel good, how, in spite
of knowing this, does the imagined woman
keep getting into your bedroom, and joining you
at dinner, why is it that you always bring her along
on vacations when the real woman is shopping,
or figuring the best way to the museum?

And if the real woman

has an imagined man, as she must, someone
probably with her at this very moment, in fact
doing and saying everything she's ever wanted,
would you want to know that he slips in
to her life every day from a secret doorway
she's made for him, that he's present even when
you're eating your omelette at breakfast,
or do you prefer how she goes about the house
as she does, as if there were just the two of you?
Isn't her silence, finally, loving? And yours
not entirely self-serving? Hasn't the time come,

once again, not to talk about it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Understudy

Bridget Lowe (2016)

High spring. The sounds at their
utmost registers. I am building
a language with my bike. Shame

makes the wheels go, shame
pumps its sick jet fuel.
I am flying over tiny hills with moats

of purple flowers. My fantasy
is evidence. My fantasy is a white skull
gleaming through a bed of mulch.

I let go of the handlebars and beat
my chest with shame’s gorilla fist
until the trees get in my way.

Nancy Drew before me, Nancy Drew
behind me, Nancy Drew on all
sides of me, Lord hear my prayer.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Zoo-Keeper's Wife

Sylvia Plath

I can stay awake all night, if need be ---
Cold as an eel, without eyelids.
Like a dead lake the dark envelops me,
Blueblack, a spectacular plum fruit.
No air bubbles start from my heart. I am lungless
And ugly, my belly a silk stocking
Where the heads and tails of my sisters decompose.
Look, they are melting like coins in the powerful juices ---

The spidery jaws, the spine bones bared for a moment
Like the white lines on a blueprint.
Should I stir, I think this pink and purple plastic
Guts bag would clack like a child's rattle,
Old grievances jostling each other, so many loose teeth.
But what so you know about that
My fat pork, my marrowy sweetheart, face-to-the-wall?
Some things of this world are indigestible.

You wooed me with the wolf-headed fruit bats
Hanging from their scorched hooks in the moist
Fug of teh Small Mammal House.
The armadillo dozed in his sandbin
Obscene and bald as a pig, the white mice
Multiplied to infinity like angels on a pinhead
Out of sheer boredom. Tangled in the sweat-wet sheets
I remember the bloodied chicks and the quartered rabbits.

You checked the diet charts and took me to play
With the boa constrictor in the Fellow's Garden.
I pretended I was the Tree of Knowledge.
I entered your bible, I boarded your ark
With the sacred baboon in his wig and wax ears
And the bear-furred, bird-eating spider
Clambering round its glass box like an eight-fingered hand.
I can't get it out of my mind

How our courtship lit the tindery cages ---
Your two-horned rhinocerous opened a mouth
Dirty as a bootsole and big as a hospital sink
For my cube of sugar: its bog breath
Gloved my arm to the elbow.
The snails blew kisses like black apples.
Nightly now I flog apes owls bears sheep
Over their iron stile. And still don't sleep.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ice for the Ice Trade

Stephen Burt (2015)

Everybody wants a piece of me.

I have been weighed and measured,

tested and standardized,

throughout my young life. It happens to everyone,

or to everyone with my ability.

Now I live quietly

and mostly in the dark, amid sawdust and sheer

or streaky wooden surfaces. My role,

when I reach maturity,

may be to help people behave

more sociably, and reduce

the irritations of summer,

or else to make it easier to eat.

For reasons I cannot fathom, I weep when it rains.

My handlers keep me wrapped in awkward cloth.

They will not let me touch my friends

or show any curves. They have taught me how to shave.

A few twigs and dragonfly wings got caught

near the center of me long ago; they serve

to distinguish me from others of my kind,

along with some bubbles of air.

I am worth more when I am clear.

When I am most desirable

you should be able to see yourself through me.

Some of my distant relatives

will probably never go far,

because they are too irregular, or opaque.

Many of us will end on a cart.

I, on the other hand, have had my work

cut out for me by so many gloves

and tongs, pallets and barges, poles and planks

that I am sure I will go to New York;

there people who own

the rights to me will give elaborate thanks

to one another, and go on to take me apart.