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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Carl Phillips - Only Portions of the Map Still Legibly Survive

Having had their moment or, if luckier, the better part
of a day in the sun as proverbed, it was time to move on.
Some died, not because of this,
                                                       but as if so. Some retreated
into the memory of their earlier triumphs, others chose
not so much to remember as to fill those in who had never
known of said triumphs, having been born so much past
all of that—what can history be
                                                       expected to mean,
honestly, to those who have no history, yet, of their own?
But the waning of influence is not the same as a loss of power—
it doesn’t have to be, said the wisest who, understanding this,
found their trust where they’d always put it, in what by
sheer definition is all but impossible to argue with, or
against: detachment. Look at us now,
                                                                  entering our days
no differently than we did before: pity in one hand,
for the few who with time may come to deserve it; and
in the other hand, an indifference that,
                                                                   with enough
practice, detachment leads to, though that was never
the plan, not on our part, an indifference we’ve wielded
so long we forget it’s
                                    there, almost, until something
reminds us: gulls scattering before us, say, the way
the letters that spell loneliness can scatter, eventually,
as if weary with meaning—with having had to mean—
from what loneliness really deep down feels like:
magnetic, unignorable; why,
                                                   the waves themselves bow down.

Carl Phillips - Then The War

They planted flowers because the house had many rooms
and because they’d imagined a life in which
cut flowers punctuate each room, as if each were a sentence

not just to be decorated but to be given some discipline,
what the most memorable sentences—like people—always
slightly resist ... Spit of land; rags

of cloud-rack. Meanwhile,
hawk’s-nest, winter-nest, stamina as a form of faith, little
cove that a life equals, what they meant, I think, by

what they called the soul, twilight taking hold
deep in the marshweed, in the pachysandra, where the wind
can’t reach.

Then the war.
Then the field, and the mounted police
parading their proud-looking horses across it.

Then the next morning’s fog, the groundsmen barely visible
inside it, shadow-like, shade-like,
grooming the field back to immaculateness.

Then the curtains billowing out from the lightless room
toward the sea.
Then the one without hair

stroked the one who had some. They closed their eyes.
If gently, hard to say how gently.
Then the war was nothing that still bewildered them, if it ever had.

Carl Phillips - Soundtrack for a Frame of Winter

There’s a forest that stands at the exact center of sorrow.
Regrets find no shelter there.
The trees, when they sway,
sway like the manes of horses when a storm’s not far.
There’s no reason to stay there,
nothing worth going to see,
but if you want to you can pass through the forest
in the better part of a long day.
Who would want to, though?

To have entered the forest changes nothing about sorrow.
It’s a forest. Not oblivion. Not erasure.
Some have entered it in the name of distraction,
if only briefly, from the sorrow within which
the forest thrives to no apparent purpose—fools, dreamers,
the desperate from whom it’s best, if at all possible,
to look calmly away, the trees of the forest at the center of sorrow—
the exact center—all but say,
or that’s what it sounds like on windier nights,

tonight, for example. At the forest’s exact center,
almost impossible to find, but I have been there myself,
there’s a makeshift grave, more than likely overgrown by now
with weeds, moss, the usual.
With defeat, desire, the usual.
Wingless ambition, frangible hope, misunderstanding, i.e., mistake,
another form of weakness, i.e., the usual.
That the forest itself contains no apology
doesn’t mean you’re not hurt. Or I’m not sorry. Or I didn’t hurt you.

Carl Phillips - Gold Leaf

To lift, without ever asking what animal exactly it once belonged to,
the socketed helmet that what’s left of the skull equals
up to your face, to hold it there, mask-like, to look through it until
looking through means looking back, back through the skull,
into the self that is partly the animal you’ve always wanted to be,
that—depending—fear has prevented or rescued you from becoming,
to know utterly what you’ll never be, to understand in doing so
what you are, and say no to it, not to who you are, to say no to despair.

Carl Phillips - Tugging the Arrow Out

There’s a nudging that a living horse
will sometimes extend towards a dead one,
          a nudging not so much against death – what is
knowable to a horse, but not understandable –
but against that space right before loneliness
          settles in for real that horses
do, it seems, understand. 
And so that was the first day. 
          The night was what night always is:
a black starfish, black according to some
for holiness, to others for the limbs themselves,
          unfurling as if from long sleep or a late stiffness,
or as when a quiet thing, and very still, starts moving,
moves, one stiff black limb     
         at a time.

Carl Phillips - Domestic

If, when studying road atlases
while taking, as you call it, your
morning dump, you shout down to
me names like Miami City, Franconia,
Cancún, as places for you to take
me to from here, can I help it if

all I can think is things that are
stupid, like he loves me he loves me
not? I don’t think so. No more
than, some mornings, waking to your
hands around me, and remembering
these are the fingers, the hands I’ve

over and over given myself to, I can
stop myself from wondering does that
mean they’re the same I’ll grow
old with. Yesterday, in the café I
keep meaning to show you, I thought
this is how I’ll die maybe, alone,

somewhere too far away from wherever
you are then, my heart racing from
espresso and too many cigarettes,
my head down on the table’s cool
marble, and the ceiling fan turning
slowly above me, like fortune, the

part of fortune that’s half-wished-
for only—it did not seem the worst
way. I thought this is another of
those things I’m always forgetting
to tell you, or don’t choose to
tell you, or I tell you but only

in the same way, each morning, I
keep myself from saying too loud I
love you until the moment you flush
the toilet, then I say it, when the
rumble of water running down through
the house could mean anything: flood,

your feet descending the stairs any
moment; any moment the whole world,
all I want of the world, coming down.

Carl Phillips - Wake Up

The road down from everything even you had hardly dared
to hope for has its lonely stretches, yes, but it’s hard to feel alone
entirely: there’s a river that runs beside it the whole way down,
and there’s an over-song that keeps the river company: I’m leaves,
you're the wind…

                             I used to think the song had to do with the leaves’
confusion, the wind letting up, their mistaking this for something
like courtesy on the wind’s part, or even forgiveness. But leaves don’t
get confused. Silly, to think it. And what can leaves know of courtesy,
let alone forgiveness? What’s forgiveness?

                                                                        Wake up, for the falconer
has lost his falcon. He has heard that falcons are like memory, they
come back. But not all memories do, not all memories should. If
anyone knows this, it’s the falconer. How long ago that was…Yet

all the varieties of good fortune he’s come upon, as a hand comes
idly upon an orchard’s windfalls, how different he’s become since—
none of it matters, when the falconer steps back into memory as into
a vast cathedral, which is to say, when he remembers.

                                                                                          How cool it is,
inside the cathedral. And at first, how dark. Soon, though, he can see
a chapel set aside for prayers specifically to the virgin whose story he’s
always resisted. He sees a corner where people have lit candles, sometimes
for another’s suffering, sometimes for their own. He sees the altar with
the falcon sitting on top of it.

                                                 The weight of grief over what’s lost,
versus the shadow of what’s lost—forever struggling to return, and failing:
who can say which is better? The falconer’s eye meets the falcon’s eye:

I have a story, the falcon says, seems to, the wings lifting, the feathers
rippling with a story’s parts—I have a story; I can’t wait to tell you.

Carl Phillips - Blue

As through marble or the lining of
certain fish split open and scooped
clean, this is the blue vein
that rides, where the flesh is even
whiter than the rest of her, the splayed
thighs mother forgets, busy struggling
for command over bones: her own,
those of the chaise longue, all
equally uncooperative, and there’s
the wind, too. This is her hair, gone
from white to blue in the air.

This is the black, shot with blue, of my dark
daddy’s knuckles, that do not change, ever.
Which is to say they are no more pale
in anger than at rest, or when, as
I imagine them now, they follow
the same two fingers he has always used
to make the rim of every empty blue
glass in the house sing.
Always, the same
blue-to-black sorrow
no black surface can entirely hide.

Under the night, somewhere
between the white that is nothing so much as
blue, and the black that is, finally; nothing,
I am the man neither of you remembers.
Shielding, in the half-dark,
the blue eyes I sometimes forget
I don’t have. Pulling my own stoop-
shouldered kind of blues across paper.
Apparently misinformed about the rumored
stuff of dreams: everywhere I inquired,
I was told look for blue.

Carl Phillips - Hymn

Less the shadow
than you a stag, sudden, through it.
Less the stag breaking cover than

the antlers, with which
crowned.
Less the antlers as trees leafless,

to either side of the stag’s head, than—
between them—the vision that must
mean, surely, rescue.

Less the rescue.
More, always, the ache
toward it.

When I think of death, the gleam of
the world darkening, dark, gathering me
now in, it is lately

as one more of many other nights
figured with the inevitably
black car, again the stranger’s

strange room entered not for prayer
but for striking
prayer’s attitude, the body

kneeling, bending, until it finds
the muscled patterns that
predictably, given strain and

release, flesh assumes.
When I think of desire,
it is in the same way that I do

God: as parable, any steep
and blue water, things that are always
there, they only wait

to be sounded.
And I a stone that, a little bit, perhaps
should ask pardon.

My fears—when I have fears—
are of how long I shall be, falling,
and in my at last resting how

indistinguishable, inasmuch as they
are countless, sire,
all the unglittering other dropped stones.

Carl Phillips - 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.