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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Ron Padgett - The Absolutely Huge and Incredible Injustice in the World

What makes us so mean?
We are meaner than gorillas,
the ones we like to blame our genetic aggression on.
It is in our nature to hide behind what Darwin said about survival,
as if survival were the most important thing on earth.
It isn't.
You know—surely it has occurred to you—
that there is no way that humankind will survive
another million years. We'll be lucky to be around
another five hundred. Why?
Because we are so mean
that we would rather kill everyone and everything on earth
than let anybody get the better of us:
"Give me liberty or give me death!"
Why didn't he just say "Grrr, let's kill each other!"?

A nosegay of pansies leans toward us in a glass of water
on a white tablecloth bright in the sunlight
at the ocean where children are frolicking,
then looking around and wondering—
about what we cannot say, for we are imagining
how we would kill the disgusting man and woman
at the next table. Tonight we could throw an electrical storm
into their bed. No more would they spit on the veranda!
Actually they aren't that bad, it's just
that I am talking mean in order to be more
like my fellow humans—it's lonely feeling like a saint,
which I do one second every five weeks,
but that one second is so intense I can't stand up
and then I figure out that it's ersatz, I can't be a saint,
I am not even a religious person, I am hardly a person at all
except when I look at you and think
that this life with you must go on forever
because it is so perfect, with all its imperfections,
like your waistline that exists a little too much,
like my hairline that doesn't exist at all!
Which means that my bald head feels good
on your soft round belly that feels good too.
If only everyone were us!

But sometimes we are everyone, we get mad
at the world and mean as all get-out,
which means we want to tell the world to get out
of this, our world. Who are all these awful people?
Why, it's your own grandma, who was so nice to you—
you mistook her for someone else. She actually was
someone else, but you had no way of knowing that,
just as you had no way of knowing that the taxi driver
saves his pennies all year
to go to Paris for Racine at the Comédie Francaise.
Now he is reciting a long speech in French from Andromache
and you arrive at the corner of This and That
and though Andromache's noble husband Hector has been killed
and his corpse has been dragged around the walls of Troy by an
      unusually mean Achilles,
although she is forced into slavery and a marriage
to save the life of her son, and then people around her
get killed, commit suicide, and go crazy, the driver is in paradise,
he has taken you back to his very mean teacher
in the unhappy school in Port-au-Prince and then
to Paris and back to the French language of the seventeenth century
and then to ancient Greece and then to the corner of This and That.
Only a mean world would have this man driving around in a city
where for no reason someone is going to fire a bullet into the back of
     his head!

It was an act of kindness
on the part of the person who placed both numbers and letters
on the dial of the phone so we could call WAverly,
ATwater, CAnareggio, BLenheim, and MAdison,
DUnbar and OCean, little worlds in themselves
we drift into as we dial, and an act of cruelty
to change everything into numbers only, not just phone numbers
that get longer and longer, but statistical analysis,
cost averaging, collateral damage, death by peanut,
inflation rates, personal identification numbers, access codes,
and the whole raving Raft of the Medusa
that drives out any thought of pleasantness
until you dial I-8OO-MATTRES and in no time get a mattress
that is complete and comfy and almost under you,
even though you didn't need one! The men
come in and say Here's the mattress where's
the bedroom? And the bedroom realizes it can't run away.
You can't say that the people who invented the bedroom were mean,
only a bedroom could say that, if it could say anything.
It's a good thing that bedrooms can't talk!
They might keep you up all night telling you things
you don't want to know. "Many years ago,
in this very room. . . ." Eeek, shut up! I mean,
please don't tell me anything, I'm sorry I shouted at you.
And the walls subside into their somewhat foreverness.
The wrecking ball will mash its grimace into the plaster and oof,
down they will come, lathe and layers of personal history,
but the ball is not mean, nor is the man who pulls the handle
that directs the ball on its pendulous course, but another man
—and now a woman strides into his office and slaps his face hard
the man whose bottom line is changing its color
wants to change it back. So good-bye, building
where we made love, laughed, wept, ate, and watched TV
all at the same time! Where our dog waited by the door,
eyes fixed on the knob, where a runaway stream came whooshing
down the hallway, where I once expanded to fill the whole room
and then deflated, just to see what it would feel like,
where on Saturday mornings my infant son stood by the bedside
and sang, quietly, "Wa-a-a-ke up" to his snoozing parents.

I can never leave all the kindness I have felt in this apartment,
but if a big black iron wrecking ball comes flying toward me,
zoop, out I go! For there must be
kindness somewhere else in the world,
maybe even out of it, though I'm not crazy
about the emptiness of outer space. I have to live
here, with finite life and inner space and with
the horrible desire to love everything and be disappointed
the way my mother was until that moment
when she rolled her eyes toward me as best she could
and squeezed my hand when I asked, "Do you know who I am?"
then let go of life.

The other question was, Did I know who I was?

It is hard not to be appalled by existence.
The pointlessness of matter turns us into cornered animals
that otherwise are placid or indifferent,
we hiss and bare our fangs and attack.
But how many people have felt the terror of existence?
Was Genghis Khan horrified that he and everything else existed?
Was Hitler or Pol Pot?
Or any of the other charming figures of history?
Je m'en doute.
It was something else made them mean.
Something else made Napoleon think it glorious
to cover the frozen earth with a hundred thousand bloody corpses.
Something else made . . . oh, name your monster
and his penchant for destruction,
name your own period in history when a darkness swept over us
and made not existing seem like the better choice,
as if the solution to hunger were to hurl oneself
into a vat of boiling radioactive carrots!

Life is so awful!
I hope that lion tears me to pieces!

It is good that those men wearing black hoods
are going to strip off my skin and force me
to gape at my own intestines spilling down onto the floor!
Please drive spikes through not only my hands and feet
but through my eyes as well!
For this world is to be fled as soon as possible
via the purification of martyrdom.
This from the God of Christian Love.
Cupid hovers overhead, perplexed.
Long ago Zeus said he was tired
and went to bed: if you're not going to exist
it's best to be asleep.
The Christian God is like a cranky two-thousand-year-old baby
whose fatigue delivers him into an endless tantrum.
He will never grow up
because you can't grow up unless people listen to you,
and they can't listen because they are too busy being mean
or fearing the meanness of others.
How can I blame them?
I too am afraid. I can be jolted by an extremely violent movie,
but what is really scary is that someone wanted to make the film!
He is only a step away from the father
who took his eight-year-old daughter and her friend to the park
and beat and stabbed them to death. Uh-oh.
"He seemed like a normal guy," said his neighbor, Thelma,
who refused to divulge her last name to reporters.
She seemed like a normal gal, just as the reporters seemed like
      normal vampires.
In some cultures it is normal to eat bugs or people
or to smear placenta on your face at night, to buy
a car whose price would feed a village for thirty years,
to waste your life and, while you're at it, waste everyone
      else's too!
Hello, America. It is dawn,
wake up and smell yourselves.
You smell normal.
My father was not normal,
he was a criminal, a scuffler, a tough guy,
and though he did bad things
he was never mean.
He didn't like mean people, either.
Sometimes he would beat them up
or chop up their shoes!
I have never beaten anyone up,
but it might be fun to chop up some shoes.
Would you please hand me that cleaver, Thelma?

But Thelma is insulted by my request,
even though I said please, because she has the face of a cleaver
that flies through the air toward me and lodges
in my forehead. "Get it yourself,
lughead!" she spits, then twenty years later
she changes lughead to fuckhead.
I change my name to Jughead
and go into the poetry protection program
so my poems can go out and live under assumed names
in Utah and Muskogee.

Anna Chukhno looks up and sees me
through her violet Ukrainian eyes
and says Good morning most pleasantly inflected. Oh
to ride in a horse-drawn carriage with her at midnight
down the wide avenues of Kiev and erase
the ditch at Babi Yar from human history!
She looks up and asks How would you like that?
I say In twenties and she counts them out
as if the air around her were not shattered by her beauty
and my body thus divided into zones:
hands the place of metaphysics, shins the area of moo,
bones the cost of living, and so on.
Is it cruel that I cannot cover her with kisses?
No, it is beautiful that I cannot cover her with kisses,
it is better that I walk out into the sunlight
with the blessing of having spoken with an actual goddess
who gave me four hundred dollars!
And I am reassembled
as my car goes forward
into the oncoming rays of aggression
that bounce off my glasses and then
start penetrating, and soon my eyes
turn into abandoned coal mines
whose canaries explode into an evil song
that echoes exactly nowhere.

At least I am not in Rwanda in 1994 or the Sudan in '05
or Guantanamo or Rikers, or in a ditch outside Rio,
clubbed to death and mutilated. No Cossack
bears down on me with sword raised and gleaming
at my Jewish neck and no time for me
to cry out "It is only my neck that is Jewish!
The rest is Russian Orthodox!" No smiling man tips back
his hat and says to his buddies, "Let's teach
this nigguh a lesson." I don't need a lesson, sir,
I am Ethiopian, this is my first time in your country!
But you gentlemen are joking. . . .

Prepare my cave and then kindly forget where it was.
A crust of bread will suffice and a stream nearby,
the chill of evening filtering in with the blind god
who is the chill of evening and who touches us
though we can't raise our hands to stroke his misty beard
      in which
two hundred million stars have wink and glimmer needles.

I had better go back to the bank, we have
only three hundred and eighty-five dollars left.
Those fifteen units of beauty went fast.
As does everything.
But meanness comes back right away
while kindness takes its own sweet time
and compassion is busy shimmering always a little above us and
      behind,
swooping down and transfusing us only when we don't expect it
and then only for a moment.
How can I trap it?
Allow it in and then
turn my body into steel? No.
The exit holes will still be there and besides
compassion doesn't need an exit it is an exit—
from the prison that each moment is,
and just as each moment replaces the one before it
each jolt of meanness replaces the one before it
and pretty soon you get to like those jolts,
you and millions of other dolts who like to be electrocuted
by their own feelings. The hippopotamus
sits on you with no sense of pleasure, he doesn't
even know you are there, any more than he takes notice
of the little white bird atop his head, and when
he sees you flattened against the ground
he doesn't even think Uh-oh he just trots away
with the bird still up there looking around.
Saint Augustine stole the pears from his neighbor's tree
and didn't apologize for thirty years, by which time
his neighbor was probably dead and in no mood
for apologies. Augustine's mother became a saint
and then a city in California—Santa Monica,
where everything exists so it can be driven past,
except the hippopotamus that stands on the freeway
in the early dawn and yawns into your high beams.
"Hello," he seems to grunt, "I can't be your friend
and I can't be your enemy, I am like compassion,
I go on just beyond you, no matter how many times
you crash into me and die because you never learned
to crash and live." Then he ambles away.
Could Saint Augustine have put on that much weight?
I thought compassion makes you light
or at least have light, the way it has light around it
in paintings, like the one of the screwdriver
that appeared just when the screw was coming loose
from the wing of the airplane in which Santa Monica was riding into
      heaven,
smiling as if she had just imagined how to smile
the first smile of any saint, a promise toward the perfection
of everything that is and isn't.

Hart Crane - Interior

It sheds a shy solemnity,
This lamp in our poor room.
O grey and gold amenity, --
Silence and gentle gloom!

Wide from the world, a stolen hour
We claim, and none may know
How love blooms like a tardy flower
Here in the day’s after-glow.

And even should the world break in
With jealous threat and guile,
The world, at last, must bow and win
Our pity and a smile.

Billy Collins - Downpour

Last night we ended up on the couch
trying to remember
all of the friends who had died so far,

and this morning I wrote them down
in alphabetical order
on the flip side of a shopping list
you had left on the kitchen table.

So many of them had been swept away
as if by a hand from the sky,
it was good to recall them,
I was thinking
under the cold lights of a supermarket
as I guided a cart with a wobbly wheel
up and down the long strident aisles.

I was on the lookout for blueberries,
English muffins, linguini, heavy cream,
light bulbs, apples, Canadian bacon,
and whatever else was on the list,
which I managed to keep grocery side up,

until I had passed through the electric doors,
where I stopped to realize,
as I turned the list over,
that I had forgotten Terry O’Shea
as well as the bananas and the bread.

It was pouring by then,
spilling, as they say in Ireland,
people splashing across the lot to their cars.
And that is when I set out,
walking slowly and precisely,
a soaking-wet man
bearing bags of groceries,
walking as if in a procession honoring the dead.

I felt I owed this to Terry,
who was such a strong painter,
for almost forgetting him
and to all the others who had formed
a circle around him on the screen in my head.

I was walking more slowly now
in the presence of the compassion
the dead were extending to a comrade,

plus I was in no hurry to return
to the kitchen, where I would have to tell you
all about Terry and the bananas and the bread.

Lucille Clifton - Lorena

          Woman cuts off husband's penis
          later throws it from car window
                       -News Report

it lay in my palm soft and trembled
as a new bird and i thought about
authority and how it always insisted
on itself, how it was master
of the man, how it measured him, never
was ignored or denied, and how it promised
there would be sweetness if it was obeyed
just like the saints do, like the angels
and i opened the window and held out my
uncupped hand; i swear to god
i thought it could fly

Frank O'Hara - Homosexuality

So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we'd been pierced by a glance!

The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one's soul when one is sick;

so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment

of a very long opera, and then we are off!
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet

will touch the earth again, let alone "very soon."
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate.

I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can

in the rain. It's wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each

of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous,
53rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. The good

love a park and the inept a railway station,
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up

and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air

crying to confuse the brave "It's a summer day,
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world."

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.

Rafael Campo - What I Would Give

What I would like to give them for a change
is not the usual prescription with
its hubris of the power to restore,
to cure; what I would like to give them, ill
from not enough of laying in the sun
not caring what the onlookers might think
while feeding some banana to their dogs—
what I would like to offer them is this,
not reassurance that their lungs sound fine,
or that the mole they’ve noticed change is not
a melanoma, but instead of fear
transfigured by some doctorly advice
I’d like to give them my astonishment
at sudden rainfall like the whole world weeping,
and how ridiculously gently it
slicked down my hair; I’d like to give them that,
the joy I felt while staring in your eyes
as you learned epidemiology
(the science of disease in populations),
the night around our bed like timelessness,
like comfort, like what I would give to them.

On Friendship

Lately, remembering anything involves an ability
to forget something else. Watching the news,
I writhe and moan; my mind is not itself.
Lying next to a begonia from which black ants come and go,
I drink a vodka. Night falls. This seems a balm
for wounds that are not visible in the gaudy daylight.
Sometimes a friend cooks dinner; our lives commingle.
In loneliness, I fear me, but in society I’m like a soldier
kneeling on soft mats. Everything seems possible,
as when I hear birds that awaken at 4 a.m. or see
a veil upon a face. Beware, the heart is lean red meat.
The mind feeds on this. I carry on my shoulder
a bow and arrow for protection. I believe whatever
I do next will surpass what I have done.

Mark Strand - Sleeping with One Eye Open

Unmoved by what the wind does,
The windows
Are not rattled, nor do the various
Areas Of the house make their usual racket–
Creak at
The joints, trusses, and studs.
Instead,
They are still. And the maples,
Able
At times to raise havoc,
Evoke Not a sound from their branches
Clutches.
It’s my night to be rattled,
Saddled
With spooks. Even the half-moon
(Half-man,
Half half dark), on the horizon,
Lies on
Its side casting a fishy light
Which alights
On my Floor, lavishly lording
Its morbid
Look over me. Oh I feel dead,
Folded
Away in my blankets for good, and
Forgotten.
My room is clammy and cold,
Moonhandled And weird. The shivers
Wash over
Me, shaking my bones, my loose ends
Loosen,
And I lie sleeping with one eye open,
Hoping
That nothing, nothing will happen

John Milton - On Shakespeare. 1630

What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labor of an age in pilèd stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.