our own shadow

Jackson Pollock, Untitled, c. 1943

Death life

We are legion, the poor infected,
Only God is worth us and our own shadow.

We will remain in the mountains under the earth,
but they already crowded us on the slopes;

from land to land we live spat,
they spit us out now into the earth.

(If the poor man's corpse smells worse,
they already felt us arriving by the smell.)

And our street will be nameless, numberless,
like the alley where we used to live;

upon us the cross, the weeds and the rain –
in our house scorpions floated.

There is no tombstone to say who we were –
in white clouds did not our life pass?

We were and we were not alive –
death cut the undecided thread.

of the greatest sadness,
dogs run wagging their tails
(and if they don't have it anyway, we see it):
in the open,
in the poorest cemeteries,
in the ruins
of a place, a village,
following a humble procession,
a revelry of kings and in subsequent times
also a sound car, for example.
For something even smaller than that:
a friendlier human movement,
a man approaching a house
to sharpen a knife, a car pulling into the garage,
a wagoner unloading the bucket,
where sometimes dogs parade like princes.

A party
is a man sit on the floor to take off his boots
or some children run after the ball
(they also run after the ball through the ruins
if so).
When their owners live on the street,
it must be said, they seem
even happier.
If there's one thing that reminds me of what life is,
is the image of them happy with the movements
from which they expect to come a treasure –
do not discard even the floor
stealth of a cockroach.

But their millennial evolution had not given them the means to protect themselves.
of your greatest enemy,
had not entered into Darwin's calculations
events such as fighting, poisoning and other
can then be deceived by the promising agitation
and in a tragic outcome get shot? Oh can,
and with the easier shot, they are more mistaken –
what is the use of biting, barking, listening
the light coming?
There is a lag.
The continuous experience not so much
aroused in them malice, a new organ
defensive, a deadly poison that was.
But deceived or not deceived,
perfectly apprehensible is the moment when
begins your beautiful expectation.



The word delirium
Inside it there is lily
and the lilies don't work
nor do they spin;
evokes delirium,
delirium of strength
to the false life;
I also see iris,
sweet friend;
and iris-light,
eye, rainbow.

For rhyme and something else
from delirium leap to exile;
but I was forgetting
no less, no more
important: delirium
is a cousin of lyric,
one as another
the world is and is not.


receive the infinite penalty of the galleys –
when did it end? when will it end?
Making a living is an expression
for those who work hard;
when they barely win it, even if the fight
is fierce, they call themselves
"the survivors".

Life promises, promises
she demands, like Salome, the head
who wants it,
demands that they kill him
terrible beasts, hydras of Lerna
and maybe then she'll give in, for a while
slip out of your hands like a coquette.

Life is never won;
good money grows on trees –
this illusion of children makes sense.


There was no harm, who would implicate
with the simple dreamer? For they implied,
for example the woman, ox-foot, implied,
bending with the bills, with inflation:
“A loser is a loser! a banana
that is good for nothing,
for nothing! and he still has a good mouth, see?
Just look at the plate he eats”.

he had a box
at the bottom of the bottom of your wardrobe —
clothes were few, they almost only served
facade for box
taken advantage of some meager gift.
Came one day and died, and while
they waited for her body to cool down,
the tearful chorus of visits recalled:
“Never hurt a fly!”

The next day they went to open the casket,
did not expect to find any treasure
but they wanted to be surprised, it was like a
a small lock of hair
redhead, wrapped in blue crepe,
round screws, antique
like cruises, and a letter sheet
yellowish, folded in four:
Your boy doesn't come to class often. You must know how he likes to make castles. When she appears, she takes a seat in the back, barely looking at the blackboard, as the window is her blackboard. When that's not the case, he entertains himself by drawing planes – he always talks about being a pilot. He's a laughing stock among the most malicious colleagues and that's also why I never take his lesson in front of others. If the caretaker's son weren't his friend, he would always be alone in the courtyard, as he sometimes is, withdrawn, sitting in an uncovered corner to warm himself in the nine o'clock sun, when we have recess. I know he's a good boy and that's why I grieve for him. What will become of him when he is already a man and needs to earn a living, the world? Come when you can, I'll be happy to help you. Respectfully, Professor Orides.


If they want to force the issue with me, then I won't, a slight false move, which they do all the time, and I'll go to my corner – some say I'm intractable, others that I'm too delicate, that I'm deceiving well in my size. I stay in the cave until the useless noise passes, those slogans, those people who, against all the warnings posted about my personality, ask me to be funny, throw me colored crumbs. What ridiculous humanity. I sit on the rock and rest my head on my hand and some point at me: “It looks like the thinker!”. I don't even know who it is, it must be someone exhausted like me. With a little pity for those who see me and a certain sense of responsibility – since I'm still an employee here, and the audience paid for their ticket and stuff –, then I'm still a little bit beyond my patience. These people can't stand a motionless scene; instead of contemplating the tree of my friend next to the cave, an old lady with a masterful bearing, knotty and respectable fingers, older than this park, no!, they want to see the monkey dance; I don't know how they don't already have a whip to crack from afar and scare me. They didn't scare anything, they're a loose people.

Insolent spectators, my cave is a lock in your eye! If I stay at the entrance to my den, which is more inaccessible, I soon see them forming a somewhat oblique line in the opposite corner, sticking out their heads, leaning on their toes; when I come back, they realign themselves, one by one, facing the railing. I think of going back and forth faster and faster and then making fun of her ridiculous ballet – “I want to see, Mom, the monkey!” a bag of popcorn, which, by the way, hasn't stopped growing since I got here. You paparazzi, a word with which I heard some ironize themselves the other day, they hold that little machine up high, it seems that they no longer have glasses, eyes, nothing else. Too bad I don't have one of those, it's all so one-sided. The fact is that the hands are never empty and close to the body; they make a chuchu with their mouth to call me – what is it, don't humiliate yourselves like that, no matter how unhappy you are, it breaks my heart! More or less.

From our wide distribution we observe you – now you are coming with masks, what happened to you? The leopard on the other corner, a little paranoid, was agitated by this news. He predicts it will only be like this from now on. Sometimes they let us out of the cell for a few minutes, a comrade jailer unlocks the gate. Ah yes, there are more airy ones now, where we can move closer than we used to, and they are equipped with small artificial lakes and everything possible to give us the illusion that nothing has changed since we were deported. Our children don't have the past we had, I notice how slower their gestures are, they wouldn't know how to run as much as we do in our youth amulet. It's a whole power that was constrained, but it's there, I know. I regret that they are born without seeing the horizon that one day I could see.

Like inmates, we improvise and have our own way of socializing and having fun. Like them, we are also cynical, apart from some and some incurably delicate ones, as is the case with giraffes, so oblivious to everything. We sometimes think of escape routes, in fact we are in communication through a secret system that we have developed. At H time we gave up on running away. We always remember a lion that escaped alone and warned us, when back and already on the ropes: “Outside it's scary, I couldn't take it anymore; here they give us food and health treatment, physical and even mental; they feed us properly, more than once a day, and we rarely suffer from intoxication; besides, we have silence at night to sleep – silence outside is golden, see? –, and beautiful vegetation. They are loose, but few have these things that we have, what's the use? We are privileged, imagine. The cages in which men put their kind are unspeakably hideous, far, far worse than the zoos in which our ancestors were kept.” Just to remember what I mentioned before, our space here has been widened and improved over time due to illusionist methods, with some effect on us, but with a tremendous effect on these idiotic spectators, among which some are a little more sensitive, appeased in the guilt of seeing us arrested.

When the mob finally leaves, one of us might shout from his cell, saying something like: Did you see the one with the red beard? Did you go there? It happened? Insensitive as a bee, he threw pebbles at me to see if I would wake up. That pathetic cloth half glued to the face would go down to the neck just to say: hey, hey, come, come! What a show! And how children scream louder and louder over the years. I used to wake up early to receive them, today I'm terrified. I even show my teeth just to see if the parents are limping. Nothing is missing.
I'd give anything so that tomorrow wasn't Saturday.
I heard they're closing here again.
It's better than the order.
What did you think of that jailer who started today? Bad looking.
Kind of bad looking.


curious change
There was once a tailor known throughout the kingdom not only for the excellence of his cut, but also for being an exceptional gossip. It happened that one day this man was summoned to be in the presence of the king so that he could make him a special garment, to be used in a great celebration. Received by a valet, he was advised to wait in the royal antechamber until he was summoned. So he obeyed the warning, but due to a mistake in hearing he assumed that the name spoken inside the chamber was his, when in fact the despotic king (and the most bloodthirsty of his lineage) was addressing one of his three supreme ministers, who were with him in his chambers. Unsuspecting, he slowly opened the door, still fearful of being in the sovereign's presence, and lo and behold, he saw what he could never have seen — that the king had donkey's ears! Yes, on a donkey, believe it or not, stretched out in the air, stiff and furry. The tailor, helpless in his vision, and completely absorbed in that image that seemed to him like a bad dream, could not hide his indiscreet presence for long and, seeing him, one of the ministers let out a real cry of horror, for in fact the which could never have happened--had agreed among themselves that, before this commoner was admitted among them, they would take proper precautions to disguise the extraordinary defect of the eminent man. Then, with the milk already spilled, he was invited in, so that he could be censured severely, but more discreetly, away from palace ears.

Once inside, the poor man was able to contemplate a little closer the misery of the royal condition. The monarch was known to be a very proud and insensitive man, but he only had the ears of a donkey, which only aggravated his despotism. Now everything became clearer to the tailor, who even understood why, in his public appearances, he always wore a kind of turban, an exotic habit in that country, and moved his jaw so little, almost as if he had his mouth sewn up – “ Oh, not moving his mouth too much, he also doesn't move his jaw much and then the muscle that connects it to his ears, because their existence is certainly very painful for him”. So he thought, when one of the ministers, no less cruel than the king, addressed him with the following words: “Unfortunately we could not avoid your indiscretion, for which you should already have paid with your life; but, as we need your services, you will be spared. But look carefully, you talker (everyone there was well aware of this other fame of the tailor), if you open your mouth, even your wife and children, we will have no doubt in having you hanged!”. The poor devil swore that he would, took the king's measurements, with great restraint not to burst out laughing, and then he left. But the worst would happen from then on, because precisely because he was a gossip it was extremely difficult for him to keep a secret of that magnitude, extremely difficult! It was, as they say today, “quite a ruffle”. How could he not tell the greatest anecdote of his entire life, the best and rarest he had come to know and which, moreover, concerned the greatest, living and visible sovereign? The truth is that the desire to spill the beans and the fear of dying disputed this man's chest for a long time, until he made a decision that seemed to him the most reasonable. One day, before the sun spilled over the mountains, he made his way to a clearing beyond the city gates, and there he dug deep enough to dispose of what was stuck. He shouted into the hole, at the top of his lungs, what he would rather have broadcast all over town. Not having inhibited himself there, he could wash his soul! So he put the dirt back on and headed home, feeling much lighter. But the truth is that secrets have their tricks: some time later, some willows would be born in the place, and even today, when the breeze sways their leaves, you can hear them say softly: “We kill the king, we are suffocating”.

Were you amazed by the impressive modification of the original sentence? For to this day eminent interpreters debate whether it came about by the intervention of the breeze and the willows already grown or by the slow action of mysterious forces under the earth; others have already wondered if the tailor had not changed his mind when it was time to scream, preferring to manifest, as he manifested it for a hole, something more daring, in fact an intimate desire awakened precisely at that great opportunity, a desire for which he would punish himself, if it were to happen. revealed around, not just to him, the tailor, but to his entire generation. There were even hermeneutics who even defended the hypothesis, a truth that is not at all extravagant, that the alteration occurred due to liberties already taken in the first translation, which was actually French, from the 18th century, as soon as the original manuscript was discovered that collected the narrative in a now extinct language. . But this is a hypothesis impossible to verify, because – difficult to decide whether by luck or bad luck – the translator, erudite like few others of his time, was the last to know this language, and with his death it became impossible to verify the veracity of that original in the original. guess. (reworking of the popular tale “The king who had donkey's ears”)

*Priscila Figueiredo is a professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Matthew (poems) (well i saw you).

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