Four Poems

Paulo Leminski

’til soon

Even you, raw matter,
even you, lumber, mass and muscle,
vodka, liver and chuckle,
candlelight, paper, coal and cloud,
stone, avocado meat, falling rain,
nail, mountain, hot-press iron,
even you feel saudade,
first-degree burn,
a longing to return home?

Clay, sponge, marble, rubber,
cement, steel, glass, vapor, cloth and cartilage,
paint, ash, eggshell, grain of sand,
first day of autumn, the word spring,
number five, the slap in the face, a rich rhyme,
a new life, middle age, old strength,
even you, matter my dear,
remember when we were only a mere idea?

sets versus setbacks

     a flashback
a flashback inside a flashback
     a flashback inside a flashback of
     a flashback
a flashback inside a third flashback
     memory falls into memory
rockflower on smooth water
     all tiresome (flashback)
minus the recollection of the recollection of the recollection
     of the recollection

warning to the castaway

This page, for example,
wasn’t born to be read.
It was born to be pallid,
a mere plagiarism of the Iliad,
something that silences,
leaf that returns to the branch,
long after having shed. 

It was born to be a beach,
who knows maybe Andromeda, Antarctica,
Himalayas, sensible syllable,
it was born to be the last
the one that hasn’t been born yet.

Words brought awhile
away by the waters of the Nile,
one day, this page, papyrus,
will have to be translated,
to symbols, to Sanskrit,
to all the dialects of India,
will have to say good morning
which one only whispers,
it will have to be the abrupt stone
where one has dropped the glass.
Is life not like that?


              The world ending,
you can relax. 
               All that
will come back.

        Reconstruct it all
according to the structure of my verse.
        Wind, I said how.
Cloud, I said when.
        Sun, house, street,
reigns, ruins, years,
        I said how we were. 

        Love, I said how.
And how is it again? 

translated from the Portuguese by Elisa Wouk Almino