Elegy of Z

Image: Lucio Fontana


In Berlin the letter “Z” is under suspicion

What will be tamen.

I read, with some astonishment, but not much,

Given the times we live in,

That in Berlin the letter "Z" is under suspicion,

Because it was used by Russian tanks

As identification in the war around here.

It can be used, but in moderation,

Depending on the circumstances and the occasion,

Always at the discretion of the authority

Who, they say, will know how to use it with precision.

My companion Zinka Ziebell

She was worried, and so was I:

There will be two “Zes” in the name an excess,

A sign of exaggeration in expression,

A cursed inheritance from the ancestors

That can land you in prison?

With such fears in mind

I spent a feverish and trembling night

With dreams in retail and wholesale.

In one of them, with horror I saw

The alphabet lying on the operating table

As in that famous painting

From the Anatomy Lesson,

Being quartered by serious doctors,

No choker, but white collar,

Although some wore the toga

Whatever were lasso and scissors judges.

I wanted to run to the letters, to their rescue,

But I stopped when I heard one of the learned

Pronounce with a serious and somber air:

“Let's start by banning 'The Mark of Zorro'”,

To which another, putting his boots on the Z,

He replied: “It is a good measure, and also,

Let's put it on our agenda

Ban 'The Prisoner of Zenda'”.

The foot on the "Z" caused great turmoil

Especially in the letters next to it:

The “Y”, the “X” trembled, rightly so,

For they were soon taken away

In the relentless razzie

And without any formed guilt:

Their idol was to be letters, nothing more.

One went away because it was the “X” of the question,

And the other for being the initial letter

From names like Yuri, Yashin,

Taking together in the same embrace

Cosmonaut and goalkeeper, submitted,

On the neck, by the same tie.

And then another scholar suggested:

“Let's also cut the 'V' of Vladimir,

And Putin's 'P' won't be too much!

And later he suggested a bolder one:

“Let’s go back to the old days,

Let's also cut Lenin's 'L'

And Trotsky's "T", Mayakovsky's "M",

Dostoyevsky's 'D' and Shostakovich's 'Ch'”.

From a distance, the arrogant “A” watched everything,

Thinking, "It's all too far away...

After all, it is about the “Z”, the ends of the alphabet…”

But soon a new censor, with a very sly look

He said, in a frajola Brazilian way:

“Let's send Brizola's 'B' to the basket,

Smart politician like saracura,

'B' which is also from Baiano, old nickname

From Luiz Inácio da Silva, Lula”.

And so they fell, one by one,

All letters, without exception...

Didn't escape such wild rage

Not even the “Z” for “orgasm”

Shredded by censor from uncontained

Snarling, with satisfied spasm.

In the immense din of desolation

The “H” was silent, thinking to escape.

But the escape was just a vain illusion

For soon a censor grabbed him by the quotes

Roaring: “you are in Hiroshima,

In Holocaust, and in the many Hebron massacres,

Things we must banish from memory,

Rather than with your painful presence

In the minds do a lot of mess”.

Everything was already too quiet

When a very hasty letter appeared:

It was the “U” wanting to make an award-winning delation!

He was welcomed by a robed censor

Who declared, without being asked,

With the air of a sibylline monk:

“I am the well-known Judge Conge,

With my brilliant assistant

Spiky and thin as a hook,

The famous Doctor Daranhol.

Tell me what you want to report

And I will then judge your case”.

"Well see," said the "U" all trembling,

“I am the U of Ukraine and to deserve your forgiveness

I denounce my fellow brother,

The “U” in the word Russia: this one

Should be banned for subversive.”

After a quick conference

With your esteemed assistant,

Thus manifested the learned censor,

Demonstrating judicious sieve:

“Go in peace, U of Ukraine;

We accept your complaint

For in this word you are

Innocent pronunciation.

Besides, if we condemn the 'Z' of tanks,

We salute Zelensky's Z, our hero of the occasion;

Ye are, as the saying goes,

the noble exceptions

Which confirm the rule!”

But the massacre didn't stop there.

Perpetrated by those people

Vestily dressed as a Quaker.

And so they were banished

Of all geography books

Places like Zanzibar, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

And as if they were bandits

They were scratched out of philosophy books

People like Zoroaster and Zarathustra,

And even if they were skittish

All the zebras lost their stripes

In the Zoology book, which came to be called

Just Oology.

“Zabumba” came out of Music,

And as in the ancient legend

Zumbi preferred to throw himself off a cliff

Seeing yourself enslaved again

By those gentlemen of hatred and disgust.

In my dream I was already confused

With that madness unleashed

When I saw a little further

Another operating table,

In which the same operation was performed,

Slicing and killing another alphabet.

although strange to me

Recognized my empirical knowledge

That it was the Cyrillic alphabet,

And without knowing the language they used

My conscience already so afflicted

You can see that the other censors

They spoke with a Moscow accent…

“War is war”, I thought

With my sad buttons,

“It is about enthroning the insanity

And to banish with fierce impatience

Every form of intelligence,

Reduced to a raging black and white

All the colorful richness of the world”.

I noticed that the alphabets thus destroyed

They caught fire and from them the ashes together fell

In common vault quickly dug.

I approached the cursed hole

And I saw that in that improvised cinder

Some embers still flickered

After going through such heartless Inquisitions.

I saw, with renewed hope,

That burned there, like souls in pain,

The “Z” in “Poetry” hidden,

The “Z” of “Ousadia” in disguise,

And also the declared “Z” for Zenith.

And from there they and other letters rose

Protected by a celestial dome,

Fleeing from the clutches of pursuers

And in the midst of them glittered

The word Freedom – albeit late.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).


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