Tag Archives: family

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.

Post #13 – On Relationships

A person I love very much once told me: ‘if you want to be happy, you need to surround yourself with people who make you feel happy, and eliminate relationships that cause you negative emotions’. At the time I didn’t agree with this person. I believed that suffering for those you care for and sharing their pain was an act of love and affection. For this reason I have often put other’s happiness before my own. Today, after much consideration, I have decided to follow this person’s advice. The ironic element of my decision, is that it is precisely this person, or rather the world he lives in, from which I have decided to distance myself.

I still believe what I did a few years ago: the word relationship, whether it be referred to romance, friendship or family, implies a certain duality and interaction. If this interaction is one sided, it is not a healthy relationship. The world we live in is far from being perfect and I believe that everyone has their issues and their suffering. A relationship occurs when both parties are prepared the take a bit of the edge of the other’s pain, and take a bit of their weight upon their shoulders.

However when this weight becomes unbearable, and comes at the cost of severe personal unhappiness, the relationship is no longer healthy. I do not believe in long term obligations and commitments, or in forcing these to persist against all odds. Helping those we love, and sacrificing other aspects of our lives for them, ought to be an act that in some way makes us happy, and has a cathartic effect on our existence. Seeing the pleasure that our actions cause on another’s face ought to light us up and not drag us down. When our sacrifices put us in a place where we are angry, scared and become more of an obligation than a natural act of kindness, I believe our negative disposition may hinder rather than enforce the relationship, making the other even more unhappy and guilty for making us feel their pain.

Distancing ourselves from these negative environment is perhaps, the only way we can safeguard the relationship. I believe that fear makes us cling to situations we no longer have under control. Forcing relationship changes us, and can lead to anger and envy. Of a painless existence, of easy air to breathe. Today I have decided to recognise the forcefulness of this inauspicious situation and take a step back, not just for myself but for us and everyone involved.