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Three Poems by Salgado Maranhão

By Salgado Maranhão
Translated By Alexis Levitin


for Ivo Machado

I listen to the sea lashing the word,
the word that is a stone in flight.

I listen to the sea singing your Azores,
an ax splitting open silence.

I, too, am that stone that sings:
a bird stitched to the Atlantic.

Oh Islander of Lusitanian seas,
that gave me a tongue with the salt
                                    of their words;

Oh blood of those illustrious men
—between the howling of the sea and the unfathomable wind:

the poet is always an island of stars!


Disentanglement Two                                                              

I come from a land of creatures
who pray to the stomach
without metaphysics. Of those who
drown their sufferings
with a hand in the stars.

I am a creature of speech
bearing bones
and long-lost tribes,
and this rosary
                          of singing stones.

I hear those who are calling
from behind the shadows,
with a thirst for plenitude;
I hear with no desire for revenge,
my passion whirling
with the birds: a creature
condemned to clarity.

Oh, cycle of things
that strip me
to the blossoming of genitals!

I am intact in my winged

I am an artisan of breezes
between the smells of the living
and the silence of stone;

a craftsman of unfinished
between hidden deaths
and luminous agonies.

I graze close to memory
and its lost rivers;
my day plucked from cyclones,
blue etched sharp over green.

This is my hour,
my skull expanding
with quantic matter:

my retinue of living
letters; my salt sharp
from the sea.

It is mine, this exodus
of those who do not leave
because it is a time
to stay:

to die with the angels;
to dine with assassins. 

In this heavy hour
to tense against the wind

my bow.


Time of Obsequies                                                                 

They are fattening the
savage earth. Learning
to reap.

Day after day
the earth is washed
for new obsequies.

Our very tears are being washed!

Day after day
learning to die;
learning to leave the heart
in a closet.

(And new burials
with yesterday’s flowers).

The time will come
to thank the vultures.


"Islander" appears here as part of WWB’s ongoing partnership with Revista Pessoa. Several times a year, WWB will bring readers new work that originally appeared in Pessoa here in English translation, and Pessoa will publish work from WWB’s pages in translation into Brazilian Portuguese. "Disentanglement Two" and "Time of Obsequies" appear by arrangement with the author and translator. 


Related Reading:

Revista Pessoa: The Unsettled Sound of the Landscape

"Sheltering in the Prose of a Master": Padma Viswanathan on Translating Graciliano Ramos

Sun and Slang: On Translating Geovani Martins's The Sun on My Head

Published Feb 9, 2021   Copyright 2021 Salgado Maranhão

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