Category Archives: happiness

A carnalidade

Poem originally written in Italian for my great uncle Gilberto Grasso, who I lived with in Santarem, Brazil, over the summer. It is very special to me, as is my uncle Gil, who, at the age of 80, still burns with what Pasolini (one of his favourite Italian authors) would call ‘desperate vitality’. Thank you for overwhelming me with your immense love for life, literature, cinema, romance, fun, debate, and all the ups and downs this world’s got to offer.

Zio Gil and his friend Deonito, Language professor at the University of Santarém, helped me translate the poem into the beautiful language it deserves to be in. (Below a rough English translation for those who need it).


A carnalidade jogue tudo na brasa.

Eu, que sempre mergulhei nas gentes,
A procura de um tudo
que apagasse cada minha curiosidade.

E que sempre mais esvaziada me foi acordada,
Apagada-se a duvida
Que era a minha vitalidade.

Tu es demais incontrolável para mim,
Demais fora do lugar.
Eu, que cambaleio nas margens da loucura,
Ainda demais regulada.

E me pergunto se tu
és verdadeiramente livre,
Se o homem verdadeiramente
pode aprender em ser livre.

Quando o teu ser fica marcado daquele momento,
No qual tu abaixas-te para afivelar a bota
Ou em olhar uma linda mulher e não uma outra.

Aqueles momentos te acorrentam a este mundo
Que nos acompanha sozinhos,
dos vinte e quatro aos oitenta.

Quando penses saudoso ao passado,
Naquele que é, que não foi.
E quando procuras de viver desesperadamente
Para não te sentir apagar totalmente.

È bem verdade que nÓS poetas
somos calculadores – niilistas miseráveis.
È bem verdade que eu, sou espelho ornamental
Das emoções que me cercam.

Mas absorvo, te garanto que absorvo.
E estas vidas que cabem em mim,
Estas luzes que cabem em mim,
Saiam de mim mais coloridas, cheias.


Carnality turns the world to ashes.
A life spent diving into people,
Seeking fullness to quench curiosity.
Yet rising emptier each morning,
Extinguished the doubt, extinguished the clout.
You’re too unruly for me, too out of place.
I’m still staggering on the margins of madness
And yet I am still too restrained.
And I ask myself if you really are free,
if a man can truly ever learn to be free.
When you’re tainted by that moment
when you stopped to tie your shoelace
or lay eyes on a pretty girl and not another.
Moments like these glue you to this word,
that chaperones our lonely journey
from age twenty to age eighty.
When you think, with ‘saudade’, to the past
to what happened and what didn’t.
When you try to live desperately,
to not fade out entirely.
And maybe what you said is true:
Us writers are calculating, misery-breeding nihilists,
And maybe I am, indeed, just an ornamental mirror
Throwing back the life and emotions around me.
But I promise I sponge it all up
And these lives that soak in,
These lights that soak in
Come back out more colourful and full.

Travel Post # 5 Alter do Chao, Pirates and the Rio Arapiuns

Alter do Chao, 17/07/16

Smiles, sunsets, palm trees and a samba band – music in the night always makes me feel at home. And I feel enormous right now,  don’t know where I end, how to contain all of this. Lightning lights up the night and I sway on the rio. I’m terrible at making friends, at looking people in the eyes. They hurt me too much. I wish I could stare without them staring back. If only I could make myself small, a menina, so I wouldn’t feel so constricted. Is it poverty that killed activity in Santarem or is it something else? It’s GLOBO that holds the power over here, it’s all about American idols and dreams. The telenovelas have murdered history, love for nature and spirituality and now the children in the comunidades lacked even basic imagination. Creativity replaced by fake promises, of money and social status.
Caranazal, the Pirate’s Lair and the Pajes (chaman) 18/07/16


I have been abducted by pirates. Hippie pirates, with skulls on the face and body and grand illusions of freedom. They say I’m in the middle of the jungle now, but there’s a road a few miles away. I drove a wolkswagen truck and they threw thei pet rat, Chorinha, onto my lap. I didn’t even budge. Artesanato, drugs, the reggae music, the car, the dirty ethnic prints, the snake skin, the ayahuasca plants in the garden and the forceful natureza. Slaves and stereotypes in their escape of society. But you’re not free, you pry on people – on gringos – to live your lie of community, free love and no possession. But you were kind to me and I am grateful. But that man, that wise man… there was magic there and I felt it inside and I cried. I cried for the kindness and strength he found in me and the empathy and calm he left in me. I confessed my biggest fear, of being alone with myself and he gave me his silent resonting answer, awakening a knowledge that was already inside of me. “There is no fear when you are alone with yourself”. Fear and anger are the most social of constructions.

Comunidade de Anã, Rio Arapiuns, 27/07/16

The rio is cooler and bluer, the forest is greener and I feel lighter. The language stopped being a barrier a soon as I stepped foot into this side of the resex, almost like magic. And there is something magical about this place. About the people’s knowing peaceful smile and how lightly my feet step on the leafs.It’s almost as if the Muanã, the protector spirit of the lake, really is protecting its land and people. I feel like I’ve always belonged here and all my fears and bothers are distant memories from someone else’s life. The excitement in the air subsides my need for sleep, and I lie in the dark, unafraid of snakes and insects, gazing at the infinite white marks and swirls in the sky, frogs croaking all around me. I then walk straight into the all embracing orange light, as the MUSA’s – Mulheres Sonhadoras em Ação – set their nets. There are no human words for happiness.

 

 

Special Glasses

And I wear my special glasses
On this fortress by the sea
A broken sax and both of you,
No one sees things like we see!

By the river in Boston
Where the little white boats
Are like stars in the blue,
No one feels like I do.

On the rooftop where we kissed
And made movies of our lives,
All the silly things I miss,
No one knows like you and I.

And I wear my special glasses
When I wonder by myself
Through the fields and through the trees,
As I hide behind these leaves.

On the cliff behind the island,
All alone, while the violence
In the world breaks into waves
And I swirl within its blues.

When my lids are heavy
With departures and arrivals
And I feel the frenzied blood,
As it pulses through the terminals.

And I wear my special glasses
When I think and sip my tea
When I smile at all of you,
Or swim naked in the sea.

And I slide through many faces,
Through the laughter and embraces
I feel colourful and free,
All these eyes, they dance with me.

And I tingle as my skin and mind
Are drenched in eau de glee
I am golden, I am wild,
Warm as honey to these bees.

There is only song and colour,
Silly details make me smile
This confusion is perfection
And it all makes life worthwhile.

And we do not need the music,
We can hum and we can write
I can hear things through my eyes
As I’m gripped in life’s big bite!


Cheers to my friends Meg, Elle and the broken sax.

A Storm

The air smells like South America
I am cold and damp and the sky is lilac,
Lit up like the fields in Valensole.

(And I suddenly miss something that’s not there.)

The wind shakes the trees,
A neighbour’s drain gurgles distinctly
and I always loved the smell of the rain.

Oh, to be unlimited, to be free!
To flutter in the reality of possibilities
I’ve discovered for myself out here.

(I close my eyes and smell the air.)

And I’m running now,
With my feet on the damp grass
Alongside my discomforts and fears.

On the tepid sand of a beach somewhere,
With Northern Lights flashing above me
And christmas lights burning within me.

I do not care now.
Those distant judgements and colds,
cannot touch me, cannot hurt me!

I slip into memories
Of humid walls, sex and adventures.
Of bright white mornings without sleep, yet at peace.

(And I float back, into the stormy green.)

Five trees: I never knew there where five trees.
I wonder why I never count the things around me!
And the lonely nails on the wall

where the wisteria climbs in the spring,
All the way to the roof top where I lay.
And time shifts into darkness, but I feel no fear.

I am immense, and for a moment
the world is imperfect like me.
My finger tips tingle and my ankles sting.

I feel myself, wet and eternal
And for a moment, just a moment,
I am free.