domingo, 8 de julho de 2018

KONSTANTINOS/Arrival Stories

I get to Syntagma Square at four in the morning, after more than twelve hours 'on the road' from Paris. The sky is dark and the square beautiful, lined with tall palms and luxury hotels, quite a contrast to the shabbiness I have observed on the bus trip from the airport. Before I am able to begin my search for a cab, I spot an old, lone dog, a husky type, lying in the middle of the wide sidewalk, across from n imposing building, in fact my first face to face encounter with a Grecian historical monument. The dog lifts its head up, enough for me to see its round and cloudy eyes, and there I go: despite the hour and a degree of doubt about where I should be going, I set to my light-metering task, intent - even after the many hours of heat, travel and the grumpy people at the Belgrade airport near midnight - to get my shots of the lone husky on the Athens square. I am taking too long to get my settings adjusted, but the atmosphere relaxes me: there is a Latin American family that has gotten off the bus with me, and some English-speaking tourists; I locate the taxi stop just at the near corner, and I am inclined to believe the words of the hotel staff who have reassured me that am within easy and safe walking distance from their anything-but-luxury hotel, so I take my time. Then a woman appears, short, middle aged, cropped haired, and I notice she is carrying a sagging white plastic bag. She stops right next to the dog, who lifts his whitening muzzle without getting up, his ears pricked as she begins to dig out the goodies - pieces of beef, chicken hearts perhaps, an endless stream of what appear to be uncooked scraps. She pays no attention to me at first, until I attempt communication, expecting we may have no common linguistic denominator. Although this is apparently the case, she does manage to tell me that this dog, a "Malmut" - not a Husky, but like one, she seems to be saying - is Konstantinos. " Konstantinos", she repeats emphatically, pointing to the contented dog who continues to enjoy his late night feast. With gestures and a few English words, I attempt to ask her where he lives, if he has"a family". "Here.." she says, with a sweeping gesture that indicates his home, his family, the whole square, "everyone! " "Love, I love!" she repeats, pounding on her chest, right over the heart. I ask if I can take their picture, and she willingly positions herself alongside the animal; with gestures I am able to briefly direct her - to move closer to Konstantinos, look up towards me - as gently she also directs him, his alert but dilated pupils, his kind face toward me, this dog who is living out his last days on the city square, but is cared for. Not knowing whether I will be able to return over the course of the ensuing days, which promise to be hectic, and hot, and take me who-knows-where, I thank her; she smiles, then busies herself again, pulling the scraps from the white plastic bag which lies on the ground a few steps away, and is now almost empty

quinta-feira, 3 de maio de 2018

First (belated!) post of 2018

Year 2018 and sad testimony of a world crumbling around us.  If I were writing poetry at the moment (and it may come, I suppose, at any moment), it would have to reach so deeply into the wretchedness of our times that I would need to learn to write in a way I have not yet been able to.  So maybe, for now, will just stick to this little tidbit of the local, a project  connected to years of sociological research and personal immersion in "popular" and "rurban" horse cultures , that is to become a sort of  documentary photographic essay on children and horses on the periphery of a few southern Brazilian cities.  If I am succesful, I will be able to capture moments of tenderness, moments of communication between horses and humans, the way the interaction with the beauty and gentleness and spirit of equines helps us to find what is best in ourselves, carving small and momentary paths out of the debris of the city and a hopelessness (apathy, lack or loss of direction, absence of viable blueprints for a better world, etc.)  that is historically-produced and institutionally-sustained.  That threatens to destroy us all.

quarta-feira, 29 de novembro de 2017

pieces ( after Human Flow) working on this!.


they arrived in the village on foot, by the hundreds.
they arrived unwanted, dragging a child or an elder,
a sack of belongings.  it was in fact a lovely place:  green
mountains, little black goats on the hillside, onions, potatoes
ready to harvest, and a river too wild to cross, almost
dragging them under,  against the chain of hands and
arms.  it must have been autumn by then, padded
jackets squirting clear water, weight for the crossing.
that was after the bombings, but before the camps,
and  before they saw the fire-colored horse, its slow
circular gallop, its  sweaty flanks, its eye toward


escape by water must be the hardest.
we take our walk along the coast, doing a shoot of
abandoned boats.  that one belonged to a fisherman. can't  you
see the pieces of net, the scales, the skeletal fish, dried
under tongues of sun?  this is almost the tropics.  wooden
boards losing their red, their green, but we find a ski
 boat in white and acqua, in fading plastic drifting from
 some other port, some high rise shoreline .  no one would
come here by high sea,  skimming the waves in absolute darkness,
fearing a storm or a mother birthing in a cabin with nothing
 but elbow room, and one last gulp of fresh water.
and that makes part of the story:  pirates centuries gone,
a coastal guard expecting no surprises, a sleeping village
that could be awoken to plunge into the  low tide, pull out

the feverish, offer  the hands of a midwife


to return to an abandoned city:
the women scavenge the ruins,
then shoulder the desperate tasks
of washing  the fluid-stained walls,
covering what is left of windows,
sweeping, stacking, or mending
the anything that  can be put back
together. a lone cow walks
 the streets, her bell ringing,
 her udder full.  war has been
 the business of men,  the work
 of memory for someone's


three Palestinian girls have gone to the beach.
there is in each, some deep harbor of hope: to where
can the boats carry them, each night  on the edge
of desire, where checkpoints and gruff soldiers  blur
into waves and sunsets,  or a midnight café where
music churns out onto the drizzle of streets and
dancing?  a tiger has gained his temporary
 freedom,  his non native savannah.  today all rests
in the hands of the men,  yet they are bound to
to the borders, the barring and the burning.  to
imagine is to excavate in depleted fields,  to unearth
all we have done to destroy

segunda-feira, 16 de outubro de 2017

historias de guerra/war stories

(wrote it, translated it, working on it...)

A história cotidiana da guerra se esfuma.
Há quem não escutou nem o uivo longínquo dos lobos
quando seu bosque virou toda fumaça e pele humana.
Há quem não sentiu a falta dos tímidos rapazes, os arrastados
ou mesmo os brabos que se arrependeram quando passou-se
da palavra ao fato. Em certas cidades,
havia quem se dedicasse ao corriqueiro:
ao jogo de baralho na cantina do bairro,  ou à visita costumeira
à costureira, pensando ainda no baile, ou nas filhas debutantes.
Havia, como sempre, quem escondia o escasso alimento
 assim como aqueles que repartiam o último pão, ou colhiam
as maças ainda aninhadas  nos galhos,  saindo pelos campos a
distribuir as magras fatias entre as crianças escondidas no
capim ao lado dos trilhos. Nunca saberemos exatamente quantos:
os  perseguidos  escondidos no porão, ou  na cava
numa noite rebelde, ou num coração refugiado na loucura. 
Sempre contavam versões que mudavam:  com o sol, a lua,
com a chuva que limpava um pouco do sangue,
dos restos humanos,  as cinzas.  Os ossos ficam,
embranquecendo uns tempos sob um verão que sempre volta,
e nunca saberemos  dos nomes, das partidas,  somente
que as lições mais urgentes nunca se aprendem.  Mais fácil é
 alimentar os pequenos monstros,  velar pelas últimas migalhas,
 amarrar o pano na boca das palavras,   cultivar aos poucos apenas uma
aleijada imaginação, que não consegue nem lembrar
nem esquecer.

The daily underside of  war slips away.
There were those who heard nothing, not even the distant
howl of wolves when their woods went up in smoke and skin
and those who missed not even the shy boys, the ones who
were dragged away, nor the rowdy who wanted to
flee when word turned to act.  In some villages
there were those who held out in the commonplace:
the card game at the tavern, the habitual visit to the
dressmaker,  reminded of dance halls or debutant daughters.
There were, like there always are, those who stashed away
tidbits of food, or who picked the last apples nestled in branches,
then slipping away from the fields, handing the thin slices out
to the children hiding in the grass near the train tracks.
We will never know the exact numbers:  those left hidden
in attics or wine cellars,  or on some tumultuous night
or in some heart that fled into madness.  The stories  they told
were constantly changing:  in the sunshine, under the moon
or when the rain washed away some of the blood,
vestiges, ashes. The bones however remained a bit longer,
slowly bleaching  in ever-returning summer. And the names
and departures we cannot ascertain. We know  only
that the most urgent lessons are the ones never learned.  Easier it is
to feed our little ghouls from our hands, hover over  the last of
the crumbs, tie dirty rags around mouths full of words,
 nurture slowly but surely a wretched  imagination
unable to remember, unable to forget.

sábado, 23 de setembro de 2017

such is...

such unsatisfactory men
hunched behind shoulders and
soliloquy. how  the rain falling behind
 them bores its pores into the
world. if we could whisk them away
even for a minute, some different tune
might be audible, some suggestion of  a new
way to paint the walls or lay the bricks, a
nimbler dance   perhaps, and some way
to become

domingo, 10 de setembro de 2017

Poema dos vinte anos - Benedito Costa Neto

 Caminhávamos de mãos dadas até uma esquina
Quando vc me olhou triste, a dizer
Coisas estranhas sobre a liberdade
Olhei para o mar e vi cortinas de chuva no horizonte
Era fevereiro e tantas pessoas se divertiam
Não entendo bem metáforas
Tampouco vejo presságios nos voos dos pássaros
Passeávamos como um casal de dálmatas alegres
Lembrei da tapeçaria com o tema da caça ao cervo
Contávamos cães e cervos
Não queria olhar para trás: seria quer balizar
Algo não mensurável, o tempo
Baixei os olhos e temi a morte
Brincaria com os pêlos do seu braço se ninguém nos visse
De alto de um templo você me oferecia o mundo
E éramos como uma foto de revista, editada
Cena de filme de um ou outro cineasta engajado
Completamente underground para o resto
Num bar, homens jogavam cartas
Jamais invejei tanto o grito de “seis” 
Uma mulher olha pra seu calção de linho branco
E para sua camiseta de listras azuis
Já não sinto mais aquele misto de compaixão
Ciúme, ironia
Caminhávamos de mãos dadas até uma esquina
Quando, sem jeito, você começou a questionar a liberdade
Com palavras estranhas
Vi seu corpo difuso num dark-room de São Francisco
Numa viagem a Madrid, a ler guias queer
E os azulejos brancos dos banhos públicos modernos
Onde as águas são a um só tempo
Mais e menos que disfemismos baratos
A procurar o amor nas praças, nuança mais negra de Eros
Andávamos juntos até uma esquina
Quando você me disse coisas tristes sobre a liberdade
Sob a imagem de um Heliogábalo
Emplumado num carro alegórico de 20 metros
A dançar, a girar
Como um demônio vermelho
Ambíguo por natureza e força
Num baile de máscaras aberto
Angélico nas formas femininas
Luciferino porque andrógino
Caminhávamos juntos até uma esquina
De mãos dadas até o fim
Porque eu vi dois rapazes a andar de bicicleta
E fiquei a admirá-los até que desaparecessem.

Poem for my twenty years
(translated by Miriam Adelman)

Hand in hand we strolled to the street corner
Where you found me with your sad gaze, to
Pronounce strange words on  freedom
And I looking to the sea found curtains of rain on the horizon
It was February and so many people were out having fun
I don't understand much about metaphor
Nor do I find omen in the flight of birds
We strolled along like a cheery pair of dalmations
I  remembered the tapestry with its deer-hunting motif
How  we counted dogs and deer
 I had no desire to look backwards: which would be a beacon to
Something incommensurable, time itself
So I lowered my gaze, felt fear of death
I would have caressed the hair along your arm were no one to see  us
From high atop the temple you offered me the world
And we were like a magazine shot, scene
Cut from a film of some committed film director
From the unrecognized underground
There in the bar, men were playing cards
 I never so envied  that cry of  "six!"
A woman stared  at your white linen trousers
At your blue-striped tee shirt
Gone now my mixture of compassion
Jealousy, irony
There we strolled  hand in hand to the corner
Where clumsily you began to question freedom
With your strange words
I  envisioned your body diffuse in a San Francisco darkroom
Or on a trip to Madrid, reading queer guidebooks
The white tiles of modern public bathrooms
Where waters flow in one sole tempo
More or less than cheap old dysphemisms
Searching for love in city squares, Eros in its darkest nuance
We strolled together  to the street corner
Where you began sad words on freedom
Under the image of a plumed
Parading twenty meters high atop a float
Dancing, swiveling
Like a red demon
Ambiguous by nature and force
At a masquerade ball open to all
Angelical in feminine forms
Androgynously Lucifer-like
We strolled together  to the street corner
Hand in hand till  the end
Where I saw two boys riding their bicycles
And stayed to watch until they disappeared.

quinta-feira, 4 de maio de 2017

Como ajudar as crianças em tempos de guerra

                          - Denise Duhamel

Mister Rogers recomenda dizer às crianças americanas
que a tristeza faz parte.  Apresente então para elas o globo
em lugar do mapa ordinário,  para  mostrar e dizer
quão longe realmente fica o Oriente Médio.  Enfatize que
assistir meteorologia da TV Saudita não quer dizer
que se chega lá de carro. Enfatize para elas o que
seu presidente lhes garante:  que toda vida é preciosa,
a de uma criança iraquiana igual à do soldado americano.
Diga isto para seus filhos, acreditando ou não
nas palavras dele.  Fale para as crianças que seus pais
sejam civis ou soldados, as amam, seja qual for
o chão que habitam. Considere descrever para elas
a guerra como ela é,
mas se sua filha joga Nintendo, não lhe sirva
sangue em lugar de leite no cereal matinal.  Se seu filho
anda numa gangue perigosa, então deixe que ele
te explique a guerra.  Aos pequeninhos, sugira
que levem seus jogos de química para a areia do parquinho.
Se você ensina arte, explique eventos atuais
com bonecos de papel.  Uma corrente de homens de cartolina vermelha:
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Sadam Hussein, et cetera.
Peça para os aluninhos que amassem um dos bonecos,
que lhe deem o nome Noriega. Que o joguem num copo de papel
que representa a cadeia.  Nesse momento pode fazer perguntas
para que percebam o quanto um boneco se parece
com o outro.  Peça para cada criançinha
escolher um que seja seu favorito.
É esse que devem retalhar, os pedaços mais minúsculos
que suas tesourinhas permitam.
Talvez alguns aluninhos se inquietem, se polvilhando uns
aos outros com os pedaçinhos cor carmim.   Permita isso:
confete, carnificina, neve vermelha, bombas.

Versão:  Miriam Adelman