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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Carl Philipps - This Far In

            Like any spell for bringing everyone you’ve ever loved back,
said the wind last night. What is it, about nighttime and fragment
seeming made for each other? It’s morning, now. The wind is just

wind again, saying nothing, of course. The bomb cyclone, as it’s
called when there’s a more powerful than usual mashup of warm
and cold air leading to “hurricane-force wind events” hasn’t

happened yet, but there’s an ominous bending and failing to rise
up that the bamboo keeps doing, that makes me think Sure,
anything could happen, but when isn’t that true? So many poems

waiting for flight, grounded variously until better weather or until
the latest glitch (in vision, technique, both) that caused the latest
disaster gets worked out, the way it can seem impossible, during

the intricate steps of dressage, that the horses ever do things like
trot into a barn or casually walk to any field’s other end—yet
they do, eventually. What’s difficult resolves. Disaster is almost

never tragedy. The snowbells (that appeared overnight? or am I
just now noticing them?) are only snowbells if I call them that.
I could as easily call them Don’t tell me the worst I’d expected

is true, or Lo, the queen’s bodice, borne unobtrusively aloft, or—
or I can say it’s spring again, with its first shy flowers, meaning
color, not bearing. Not mood. Hopkins thought flowers expressed

devotion the only way they could: they turn toward the sun. From
humans, he suggested, God expects more—no, is owed more,
because we have more to give. Leaving out God and science,

I suppose I get that, a version maybe of what Campion says: All
do not all things well—as in we do what we can. I had a house
near the sea, once, for example; now I live where there’s no sea

at all, in a house with a yard filled with trees, among them this
barren pear tree from which I long ago hung a set of wind chimes
designed to sound like a cross between a ship’s bells and the sort of

music tapped out by the rigging’s cable blocks as they hit their
masts unobstructed, sails down in a storm. If I close my eyes, it really
can seem I’m home again—the sea not far, the wind in the leaves

standing in for the waves getting rougher than forecast, Rough
the way once you liked it, I can almost hear the waves choiring
back at me like an accusation of what I don’t deny, nor am I

shamed of it, bring the boats to shore, friends, lay me down on
the shore. This far into the country, though, a boat’s pretty much
useless. Hence the pioneers with their teetered wagons that they

called prairie schooners out of sheer nostalgia, already missing
the sea. Is that nostalgia? Or is it more like what Xenophanes
says, how if cows could draw, the gods in their pictures would have

horns, the gods of birds would have feathers everywhere, each
would brandish, for stateliness, two wings for mastering a wind
strong enough to bring the stars down, as we used to say, before

to touch meant collision, back when sex was what mattered
most; seemed to. Now precision does—specifically, that precision
with which love, felt honestly, deploys itself as if it hadn’t

planned to. So that it feels like chance: chance as a boy with
a sash marked Fate across the promise that his chest is, or soon
will be, give it time, there’s time, still. The truth is, there aren’t

that many people I can say I have loved, not in any way that matters
or stands memorable, really, and of those few I’m not so certain
I’d bring any of them back. At best, they wouldn’t find me

anything close to who I was when I loved them, which is to say
I’d disappoint them all over again, just differently, so there’d at
least be that. What is happening, they used to ask me. Could you

rephrase the question, I’d sort of mumble back, in a way it was
like dancing, when both people know how to dance, what I
mean is there was grace to it, a real grace, despite the mumbling,

which is maybe why it took so long, for one of us to stop, if here
to stop doesn’t have to mean letting go; more like: I am grateful
for you, let neither of us wish for or do the other harm. Let sex—

for, though I meant what I said about it not mattering most now,
it still matters—let sex be governed by that same restraint from
any harm unasked for. It almost sounds like prayer sometimes,

he said, describing light on water. He said it like the sort of thing,
after sex, one simply says. Entering the body, pulling gently back
out of it—is that so little for a life to have come to? That, and

the more than a few names long since scattered like those leaves
across which the Sibyl’s prophecies are written clearly enough,
if only the leaves would stop moving, if I could read and know,

for once, what? what’s left for me, in terms of time, directions
of fortune, who I am? Who am I, the hero says to himself,
looking past his reflection on the lake’s surface down to where

the darker greens give way at last to darkness. A light wind stirs
the surface. The reflection trembles without breaking apart. As if
this late in the long apprenticeship, “When I Change My Life”

had stopped being a song anymore worth singing. I believe
and refuse to believe that, equally. Speak to me; speak into me,
the wind said, when I woke this morning, Let’s see what happens.

Carl Phillips - Ghost Choir

What injures the hive injures the bee, says Marcus Aurelius. I say
not wanting to hurt another, this late, should maybe more than
count, still, as a form of love. Be wild. Bewilder. Not that they
hadn’t, of course, known unkindnesses, and been themselves
unkind. When the willow’s leaves, back again, unfold all along
their branches, the branches routinely in turn brushing then lifting


away from the pond’s face, it’s too late. Last night I doubted as I’ve
not doubted myself in years: knowing a thing seemed worthless
next to knowing the difference between many things, the fox from
the hounds, persuasion from the trust required to fall asleep beside
a stranger; who I am, and how I treated you, and how you feel. So
that it almost seemed they’d either forgotten or agreed without


saying so to pretend they had. Did you know there’s an actual plant
called honesty, for its seedpods, how you can see straight through?
Though they’d been told the entire grove would die eventually, they
refused to believe it. The face in sleep, like a wish wasted. To the wings
at first a slight unsteadiness; then barely any. What if forgetting’s not
like that—instead, stampeding, panicked, just a ghost choir: of legends,


and rumors, of the myths forged from memory—what’s true, and isn’t—
that we make of ourselves and, even worse, of others. Not the all-but-
muscular ache, the inner sweep of woundedness; no. Not tonight. Say
the part again about the bluer flower, black at the edges. I’ve always
loved that part. Skull of an ox, from which a smattering of stars
keeps rising. How they decided never to use surrender as a word again.

Carl Phillips - Wild Is The Wind

About what’s past, Hold on when you can, I used to say,

And when you can’t, let go, as if memory were one of those

mechanical bulls, easily dismountable, should the ride

turn rough. I lived, in those days, at the forest’s edge — 

metaphorically, so it can sometimes seem now, though

the forest was real, as my life beside it was. I spent

much of my time listening to the sounds of random, un-

knowable things dropping or being dropped from, variously,

a middling height or a great one until, by winter, it was

just the snow falling, each time like a new, unnecessary

taxonomy or syntax for how to parse what’s plain, snow

from which the occasional lost hunter would emerge

every few or so seasons, and — just once — a runaway child

whom I gave some money to and told no one about,


having promised ... You must keep what you’ve promised

very close to your heart, that way you’ll never forget

is what I’ve always been told. I’ve been told quite

a lot of things. They hover — some more unbidden than

others — in that part of the mind where mistakes and torn

wishes echo as in a room that’s been newly cathedraled,

so that the echo surprises, though lately it’s less the echo

itself that can still most surprise me about memory — 

it’s more the time it takes, going away: a mouth opening

to say I love sex with you too it doesn’t mean I wanna stop

my life for it, for example; or just a voice, mouthless,

asking Since when does the indifference of the body’s

stance when we’re alone, unwatched, in late light, amount 


to cruelty? For the metaphysical poets, the problem

with weeping for what’s been lost is that tears

wash out memory and, by extension, what we’d hoped

to remember. If I refuse, increasingly, to explain, isn’t

explanation, at the end of the day, what the sturdier

truths most resist? It’s been my experience that

tears are useless against all the rest of it that, if I

could, I’d forget. That I keep wanting to stay should

count at least for something. I’m not done with you yet.

Carl Phillips - Brothers In Arms

The sea was one thing, once; the field another. Either way,

something got crossed, or didn’t. Who’s to say, about

happiness? Whatever country, I mean, where inconceivable

was a word like any other lies far behind me now. I’ve

learned to spare what’s failing, if it can keep what’s living

alive still, maybe just

                                       awhile longer. Ghost bamboo that

the birds nest in, for example, not noticing the leaves, color

of surrender, color of poverty as I used to imagine it when

I myself was poor but had no idea of it. I’ve always thought

gratitude’s the one correct response to having been made,

however painfully, to see this life more up close. The higher

gods having long refused me, let the gods deemed lesser

do the best they can — so a friend I somewhere along the way

lost hold of used to drunkenly announce, usually just before

passing out. I think he actually believed that stuff; he must

surely, by now, be dead. There’s a rumored

                                                                               humbling effect

to loss that I bear no trace of. It’s not loss that humbles me.

What used to look like memory — clouds for hours breaking,

gathering, then breaking up again — lately seems instead

like a dance, one of those slower, too complicated numbers

I never had much time for. Not knowing exactly what it’s

come to is so much different from understanding that it’s come

to nothing. Why is it, then, each day, they feel more the same?

Carl Phillips - Anyone Who Had A Heart

I know a man who routinely asks

that I humiliate him. It’s sex, and it isn’t—

whatever. For him, it’s a need, the way

brutality can seem for so long a likely

answer, that

                            it becomes the answer—

a kindness, even, and I have always

been kind, for which reason it goes

against my nature to do what he says, but

there’s little in nature that won’t, with

enough training, change…

                                                   After it’s done,

if the weather’s good, we tour his garden:

heliotrope, evening primrose … Proximity’s

one thing, he likes to say, penetration

another, and I have learned that’s true,

though which is better depends: whose life?

what story? the relief

                                          of snowmelt,

or the flooded fields again? We go down

to the stables to visit the horses that,

when they were nothing, just shivering

foals still, he once asked me to give

names to. How long we’ve traveled,

he and I—more like

                                        drifted, really—and

how far. More black than all the sorrows

and joys put together that I can remember

when I try remembering, which I mostly don’t,

now the foals,

                             they’re stallions. Call out

Fanfare, Adoration. Like broken kings,

they lower their heads, then raise them.