Tag Archives: people

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.

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Travel post # 2 – Barco São Bartolomeu III and Santarém

Barco São Bartolomeu III, Manaus to Santarém, 5th July

This chunk of wood and coloured hammocks has been nothing but an exercise in patience. Ever since we crossed over the excitement of blue and brown floating side by side, latte-coloured water has been expanding indefinitely. I wonder all the lives that have lived and passed through these waters and dwelled in this desolation, this forgotten world – most people never leave Amazonas or Para, have never seen the sea. I´ve been on this boat for 24 hours and time feels different over here. Five hours is around the corner and everything is measured in seasons and circadian cycles.  Colourful hammocks, some pets in cages, banana trees, children running wild, a boy with purple hair tearfully reading a letter, music blasting from the bar, we all proceed as ants, shifting slowly downstream and the size of the world is almost inconceivable. I have never felt so small.


Santarém, 7th July 2016

The carelessness, mixed with embarrassment, of two young women on plastic chairs, letting their children play by the cemetery of solidarity, which is FUNDAC*. My uncle Gil, 80 years old and yet still fiery – with communism, rebellion, and desire to help the weak and exploited – completely ignored by their ignorant glances. Don´t you know me? Your children came here, I helped you for years, I did a good thing. And you just stood there oblivious, as this temple of learning was destroyed, by drugs and poverty and ignorance. It wasn´t just the humidity that thickened the air in that abandoned playground, with broken windows and shredded walls. Not for theft, but for sabotage, for anger. Anger against what? We will always be conquistadores here, even if I eat pimenta and fish heads and walk around barefoot. There will always be hatred. Llega a tu país! The rich kid said to my uncle on the first night, as we ate camaroes and drank cold Brahma. Todo o mundo é país… and ignorance and xenophobia are always the hardest to eradicate.

*FUNDAC was my uncle´s now closed NGO, which looked after local disadvantaged children, providing them with official identities, long-distance adoption programmes and after-school activities and tuition.


Mercado,  Santarém, 8th July

Colour clashes: indigenous, black and white blood, fruit, old faces and fat, juicy fish. It´s so hard to choose: where to point the lens, who to be, where it is that I stand here. Am I just quiet or am I an outsider to this bustling chaos? When I speak they laugh with me, and I suppose their language isn´t any more foreign than the rest of my life. Markets always overwhelm me, and I just let myself melt into its all-embracing senses.

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Control

a blanket
on a clothes line           the stains
all washed out
I hang out in boredom,

to dry

I am sick
of the clips
that so wearily hold me up

of this washed out sanity

I am sick.

This is not the best me I can be.

Stop this, run again.

      madness
                    drunkenness
                              silliness

dance away control:
colours bodies           laughter

c a r e l e s s n e s s

the frenzy the rush
the high.

I miss life and I have lied.

burn books thoughts dreams.

They aren’t enough,

I’m going to die.

burn lists
          projects.

I don’t need to be clever and ok.
people movement fear anger           lust.

– to touch

and

be touched.

to feel alive.

Featured artwork by Jonas Fyhr. Find him at jonasfyhr.deviantart.com

People, goodbyes.

The brute, astute revelation
Of a painfully insignificant fade out:
You never were, the specialness I craved for.

You never were.

Forcefulness embraced me then,
And now your face I cannot colour with my pain.
I craved the ethereal self, I imagined through your eyes.

I was your portal –

To feel love, for yourself, to feel worth.
A portal for big words, and comforting elation.
I was a beast of beauty to subject,
Like the beast within us all we cannot tame.

I am tall now –

Taller than you now, navigating higher comfort.
We seek the same fulfilment
And project ourselves in winning battles.

I was your projection –

A mirror of the self you wished to be.
Through lust and ego you created many me’s.
We are all just shadows of each others dreams.
My existence depends upon you all,

And I need you.

I could only ever gage myself through you.
Only when you were inside me
Could I smell and taste the colours of me,
Never where they mine to be felt.

I touched myself when you were inside me,
And the walls for a moment crumbled
And we floated, for a moment, in the same chaos.

That me, you made me.

Forever yours it will be and you, will forever be mine.