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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

George Oppen - Of Being Numerous: Sections 1-22



There are things

We live among ‘and to see them

Is to know ourselves’.


Occurrence, a part

Of an infinite series,


The sad marvels;


Of this was told

A tale of our wickedness.

It is not our wickedness.


‘You remember that old town we went to, and we sat in the ruined window, and we tried to imagine that we belonged to those times—It is dead and it is not dead, and you cannot imagine either its life or its death; the earth speaks and the salamander speaks, the Spring comes and only obscures it—’





So spoke of the existence of things,

An unmanageable pantheon


Absolute, but they say



A city of the corporations



In dreams


And images—


And the pure joy

Of the mineral fact


Tho it is impenetrable


As the world, if it is matter,

Is impenetrable.





The emotions are engaged

Entering the city

As entering any city.


We are not coeval

With a locality

But we imagine others are,


We encounter them. Actually

A populace flows

Thru the city.


This is a language, therefore, of New York





For the people of that flow

Are new, the old


New to age as the young

To youth


And to their dwelling

For which the tarred roofs


And the stoops and doors—

A world of stoops—

Are petty alibi and satirical wit

Will not serve.





The great stone

Above the river

In the pylon of the bridge




Frozen in the moonlight

In the frozen air over the footpath, consciousness


Which has nothing to gain, which awaits nothing,

Which loves itself





We are pressed, pressed on each other,

We will be told at once

Of anything that happens


And the discovery of fact bursts

In a paroxysm of emotion

Now as always.   Crusoe


We say was


So we have chosen.





Obsessed, bewildered


By the shipwreck

Of the singular


We have chosen the meaning

Of being numerous.





Amor fati

The love of fate


For which the city alone

Is audience


Perhaps blasphemous.


Slowly over islands, destinies

Moving steadily pass

And change


In the thin sky

Over islands


Among days


Having only the force

Of days


Most simple

Most difficult





‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance from Them, the people, does not also increase’

I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place


Yet I am one of those who from nothing but man’s way of thought and one of his dialects and what has happened to me

Have made poetry


To dream of that beach

For the sake of an instant in the eyes,


The absolute singular


The unearthly bonds

Of the singular


Which is the bright light of shipwreck





Or, in that light, New arts! Dithyrambic, audience-as-artists! But I will listen to a man, I will listen to a man, and when I speak I will speak, tho he will fail and I will fail. But I will listen to him speak. The shuffling of a crowd is nothing—well, nothing but the many that we are, but nothing.


Urban art, art of the cities, art of the young in the cities—The isolated man is dead, his world around him exhausted


And he fails! He fails, that meditative man! And indeed they cannot ‘bear’ it.





            it is that light

Seeps anywhere, a light for the times


In which the buildings

Stand on low ground, their pediments

Just above the harbor


Absolutely immobile,


Hollow, available, you could enter any building,

You could look from any window

One might wave to himself

From the top of the Empire State Building—






If you can






Phyllis—not neo-classic,

The girl’s name is Phyllis—


Coming home from her first job

On the bus in the bare civic interior

Among those people, the small doors

Opening on the night at the curb

Her heart, she told me, suddenly tight with happiness—


So small a picture,

A spot of light on the curb, it cannot demean us


I too am in love down there with the streets

And the square slabs of pavement—


To talk of the house and the neighborhood and the docks


And it is not ‘art’





‘In these explanations it is presumed that an experiencing subject is one occasion of a sensitive reaction to an actual world.’


the rain falls

that had not been falling

and it is the same world


. . .


They made small objects

Of wood and the bones of fish

And of stone. They talked,

Families talked,

They gathered in council

And spoke, carrying objects.

They were credulous,

Their things shone in the forest.


They were patient

With the world.

This will never return, never,

Unless having reached their limits


They will begin over, that is,

Over and over





           unable to begin

At the beginning, the fortunate

Find everything already here. They are shoppers,

Choosers, judges; . . . And here the brutal

is without issue, a dead end.

                                            They develop

Argument in order to speak, they become

unreal, unreal, life loses

solidity, loses extent, baseball’s their game

because baseball is not a game

but an argument and difference of opinion

makes the horse races. They are ghosts that endanger


One’s soul. There is change

In an air

That smells stale, they will come to the end

Of an era

First of all peoples

And one may honorably keep


His distance

If he can.





I cannot even now

Altogether disengage myself

From those men


With whom I stood in emplacements, in mess tents,

In hospitals and sheds and hid in the gullies

Of blasted roads in a ruined country,


Among them many men

More capable than I—


Muykut and a sergeant

Named Healy,

That lieutenant also—


How forget that? How talk

Distantly of ‘The People’


Who are that force

Within the walls

Of cities


Wherein their cars


Echo like history

Down walled avenues

In which one cannot speak.





Chorus (androgynous): ‘Find me

So that I will exist, find my navel

So that it will exist, find my nipples

So that they will exist, find every hair

Of my belly, I am good (or I am bad),

Find me.’





‘. . . he who will not work shall not eat,

and only he who was troubled shall find rest,

and only he who descends into the nether world shall rescue his beloved,

and only he who unsheathes his knife shall be given Isaac again. He who will not work shall not eat. . .

but he who will work shall give birth to his own father.’





The roots of words

Dim in the subways


There is madness in the number

Of the living

‘A state of matter’


There is nobody here but us chickens




He wants to say

His life is real,

No one can say why


It is not easy to speak


A ferocious mumbling, in public

Of rootless speech





It is the air of atrocity,

An event as ordinary

As a President.


A plume of smoke, visible at a distance

In which people burn.





Now in the helicopters the casual will

Is atrocious


Insanity in high places,

If it is true we must do these things

We must cut our throats


The fly in the bottle


Insane, the insane fly


Which, over the city

Is the bright light of shipwreck





—They await


War, and the news

Is war


As always


That the juices may flow in them

Tho the juices lie.


Great things have happened

On the earth and given it history, armies

And the ragged hordes moving and the passions

Of that death. But who escapes



Among these riders

Of the subway,


They know

But now as I know


Failure and the guilt

Of failure.

As in Hardy’s poem of Christmas


We might half-hope to find the animals

In the sheds of a nation

Kneeling at midnight,


Farm animals,

Draft animals, beasts for slaughter

Because it would mean they have forgiven us,

Or which is the same thing,

That we do not altogether matter.





There can be a brick

In a brick wall

The eye picks


So quiet of a Sunday

Here is the brick, it was waiting

Here when you were born









In the sense of transparence,

I don’t mean that much can be explained


Clarity in the sense of silence.

Derek Walcott - The Fist

The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved


past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.


Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.

Nicanor Parra - Último Brindis

Lo queramos o no
Sólo tenemos tres alternativas:
El ayer, el presente y el mañana.

Y ni siquiera tres
Porque como dice el filósofo
El ayer es ayer
Nos pertenece sólo en el recuerdo:
A la rosa que ya se deshojó
No se le puede sacar otro pétalo.

Las cartas por jugar 
Son solamente dos:
El presente y el día de mañana.

Y ni siquiera dos
Porque es un hecho bien establecido
Que el presente no existe
Sino en la medida en que se hace pasado
Y ya pasó...,
como la juventud.

En resumidas cuentas
Sólo nos va quedando el mañana:
Yo levanto mi copa
Por ese día que no llega nunca
Pero que es lo único
De lo que realmente disponemos.

Nicanor Parra - La Poesía Terminó Conmigo

Yo no digo que ponga fin a nada
No me hago ilusiones al respecto
Yo quería seguir poetizando
Pero se terminó la inspiración.
La poesía se ha portado bien
Yo me he portado horriblemente mal.

Qué gano con decir
Yo me he portado bien
La poesía se ha portado mal
Cuando saben que yo soy el culpable.
¡Está bien que me pase por imbécil!

La poesía se ha portado bien
Yo me he portado horriblemente mal
La poesía terminó conmigo.

Marianne Boruch - There Ought to Be a Law Against Henry

given his showing up to teach at the U

disheveled, jittery cigarette and cigarette and probably

the drink, losing the very way there

over river, river of all song, all American story

which starts way north of St. Paul quiet or undone

wandering south, not

enraged mostly, something stranger.

That’s one epic shard of John Berryman anyway.


Notorious. And par for the course in a classroom

destined, struck-by-lightning

in sacred retrospect, the kind those long-ago students

now can’t believe themselves

so accidentally chosen, grateful though one

probably claimed the poet absolutely

bonkers then, out of his tree toward the end,

so went the parlance. Wasn’t he

always late—Give them back, Weirdo!—with those

brilliant papers they eked out, small dim-lit

hours when a big fat beer would’ve

been nice. Really nice.

Fuck him, I hear that kid most definitely

blurting were he young right now

though the others—  From the get-go their

startle and reverence. But not even that malcontent

did the damning I can’t believe

they gave him tenure.


Here’s where I think something else, think

of course it’s the Dream Songs that rattled him until—

as grandparents used to say—he couldn’t

see straight. Like Dickinson’s bits of shock and light

did her in between naps and those letters to

some vague beloved unattainable. Or Plath, her

meticulous crushing fog. Maybe closer to Milton working

his blindness—literally blind rage, if you want

to talk rage—into pages soaked through with triumphant

failure and rhyme, always

that high orchestration, that alpha/omega big voice thing. 

And Satan, after all, as wise guy

and looming because for chrissake, Jack, get an interesting

character in there! Someone must have

lobbed that right.


All along, Berryman: how those Dream Songs surely

loosened a bolt or a wheel in his orderly

scholar-head, must have come at him

like Michael the Archangel, 77 days of winged flash

searing him to genius, some kind of

whack-a-mole version. Maybe like Gabriel

cutting that starry celebrity deal

for a most dubious conception in the desert, near a fig tree,

no proper human mechanics required. At last

Berryman’s rage wasn’t rage

but sorrow turned back on itself. With teeth.


Henry my hero of crankiness and feigned indifference,

unspeakable industry, exhaustion

and grief, half funny-crazy, half who-knows-what-

that-line-means. A henry whole

universe of Henry, of

there ought to be a law against Henry—pause

and pause—Mister Bones: there is. 

Will be! Was! Not to say poetry’s

worth it or the most healthy fascination for the sane.

I’m just, I mean—is this love? 


There’s break, as in lucky, as in

shatter. There’s smitten and there’s smite.

Ocean Vuong - You Guys

brushing my teeth at 2
in the morning I say
over my shoulder
you guys you guys I’m serious
what are we going to make
of this mess my voice
muffled with wintergreen foam what
are we going to do now
that it hurts when I look
at those I love like
you two you
who have been through
so much together the thick & thin the skin
of it I’m proud of you both
I say as the foam pinkens
through my lips I’m told
our blood is green but touches the world
with endings my name a place
where I’ve waited for
collisions you guys are
you listening I’m sorry
for being useful only
in language are you still
with me I ask as I peer into the tub
where I placed them gently down
the two white rabbits
I had found on harris st the way back
from Emily’s where we watched American Dad!
on her mom’s birthday her mom
who would have been 56
this year we ate rocky road
in bowls with blue tulips
I’m too tired she said
to be this happy
& we laughed without
moving our hands perhaps
the rabbits are lovers or sisters sometimes
it’s hard to tell sex
from breathing
earlier I had scooped them
from the pavement
they were crushed but only
kinda one
had a dented half-face
the other’s back flattened like
a courage sock
I cradled them wetly
in my sweatshirt but now
the tub is a red world save for the silent
island of fur flickering
in my fugitive words guys
just wait for me alright
just wait a while longer you guys
I swear I’ll take us home I’ll
leave this place
spotless when I’m done I say
reaching back
to my wisdom teeth forgetting
it’s been 4 years
since they were gone

James Wright - Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

June Jordan - On a New Year's Eve

Infinity doesn't interest me

not altogether

I crawl and kneel and grub about
I beg and listen for

what can go away
(as easily as love)

or perish
like the children
hard on oneway streets/infinity
doesn't interest me

not anymore

not even
repetition your/my/eye-
lid or the colorings of sunrise
or all the sky excitement
added up

is not enough

to satisfy this lusting admiration that I feel
your brown arm before it


the temporary sacred
tales ago
first bikeride round the house
when you first saw a squat
carry babies on her back

opossum up
in the persimmon tree
you reeling toward
that natural
with so much wonder still
it shakes your voice

the temporary is the sacred
takes me out

and even the stars and even the snow and even
the rain
do not amount to much unless these things submit to some disturbance
some derangement such
as when I yield myself/belonging
to your unmistaken

and let the powerful lock up the canyon/mountain
peaks the
hidden rivers/waterfalls the
deepdown minerals/the coalfields/goldfields
diamond mines close by the whoring ore
at the center of the earth

spinning fast as numbers
I cannot imagine

let the world blot
obliterate remove so-
almighty/fathomless and everlasting
(whatever that may be)

it is this time
that matters

it is this history
I care about

the one we make together
as a lame cat on the loose
or quick as kids freed by the bell
or else as strictly
as only life must mean
a once upon a time

I have rejected propaganda teaching me
about the beautiful
the truly rare

the soft push of the ocean at the hushpoint of the shore
the soft push of the ocean at the hushpoint of the shore
is beautiful
for instance)
the truly rare can stay out there

I have rejected that
abstraction that enormity
unless I see a dog walk on the beach/
a bird seize sandflies
or yourself
approach me
laughing out a sound to spoil
the pretty picture
make an uncontrolled
heartbeating memory

I read the papers preaching on
that oil and oxygen
that redwoods and the evergreens
that trees the waters and the atmosphere
compile a final listing of the world in
short supply

but all alive and all the lives
persist perpetual
in jeopardy
as scarce as every one of us
as difficult to find
or keep
as irreplaceable
as frail
as every one of us

as I watch your arm/your
brown arm
just before it moves

I know

all things are dear
that disappear

all things are dear
that disappear 

Amy Key - Lousy with unfuckedness, I dream

each night I count ghostlets of how my body was
wanted / behind with deadheading / rose hips have
come / behind with actions that count only / when
the timing is right / I took out a contract / it was
imprudent in value / behind with asepsis / hello
microbes of my body / we sleep together / hello
cats / I make my bed daily / of the three types of
hair on the sheets / only one is human / I count the
bedrooms / I never had sex in / but there were cars
/ wild woods / blackfly has got to all the
nasturtiums / you cannot dig up a grapevine / and
expect shelter to come / I am touched by your letter
/ writes a friend / you prevaricate desire / says
message / all this fucking / with no hands on me