Poems

Letter From Bia d'Ideal

19 of this month
the windward of the souls that know

Junzin! Even in the mouth of São Vicente
Your name now is Vário or T. Thio Thiofe
    And Corsa de David [another name for CF] says
That you are a Greek-Latin black black man
    But! really really [The Port. version punctuates this line: “But, really? Really?”]

The waves
    already climb
        the steps of your poem
And in the guitar of the island break
Roofs of Europe
        over our heads

Junzin! It has been a long time
Since you have drunk the water
        Of our dryness
Truly truly
It’s been years on top of years
and five more years and a day
That stone/rock is watered by the sponge of our hearts
Like the spike [also ‘ear of corn’] of blood in the pain of a shell/ladle of milk
Oh pain of a happy/contented face [or ‘guy’]
        silent/mute pain
        seated pain
        thrown pain –
            but pain!

Like the pain of the sound on the viola
Like the pain of the seed on the ground [‘chão’]
Like the pain of the volcano [‘vulcão’] in the heart [‘coração’] –
            but today!

I will not say
    merci
    thank you
        danke schön
            Why?

When Djosa
    left out of the door
        with his shoe-shiner’s box

Tanha died at the flag of the door
With her apple hunger stuck in her mouth

Oh people of Rua da Craca [Craca Street]
Fed
    on this 16-tostão [small coin] fish broth
You all come to hear
    Patada’s viola
        and
        Antonzin’s guitar
Tear/Rip in Tanha’s blood
    A silence of so many doors
You all come to see
    the mast of the ship
            and also
            the sail of the ship

Torn
    Breaking
        in the eyes of Tanha
        Why! When Djosa

Opened in the city
    a path of open sun

Tanha planted/placed/coined in the wind
    Her mouth of bitten apple

Junzin! I have three things
    tied to the soul
Three rivers for never more
    one written in the hand
    two written in the mouth
    three written in the blood
is the sun breaking on the rock
    its egg yolk hunger
is the wind biting the stone
    with its white flour cry
is the people and the finger of the people
    writing on the ground its long hand sentence
And a long time ago [NB ‘long time ago’ is in English]
    Notcha
        was already saying
Unlike/Contradicting Saint-John Perse
    That not always
“The oar breaks in the hand of the oarsman”

Greetings from Bibia
            Bena
                Garda
                    Vavaia
And from all these people from the Rua da Crava

                    Everybody *

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