I

sixteen degrees on Paulista

            I had the verse so well structured this morning
and drive in the flow of traffic
                        never has there been a more lovely place
                        nor a more loyal citizen

II

you are called a concrete jungle           a city of steel

all exaggeration
                        I borrow
migrant glances            birds of passage
                        I stare at the wind gathering piles
                        of autumn leaves in the gutter
the sky was dazzling
the diadem of the Empress
the woman I never had

III

I could return with my estranged vision

that know how to strip your topographies
                        the supreme bittersweet
                                                            luxury:
no one would say that you are
                        “a nest of pelicans”
                                                            around here
there are no cliff-edges
                                    even though
                                                            for free
bromeliads adorn your
                                                            trees

IV

Highland climate         said Vera

                        the moment exuded inspiration
barely anyone connects it
                                                                        and your
once pristine rivers
                        transformed into
                        sewers
                                                —who would deny it?
you demand a trained eye
                                                            constantly
re-training itself
                                        that restores the matter
beyond the leathery hide of your body

V

I could return
                                    supreme luxury
Koh-i-Noor of the non-existent
                                    only intuited crown
to suffer the necessary
                                                            epiphanies
foyer city
            foyer for something that’s not lyrical
            yet lyrical
pre-
semi-
para-
meta-
post-
fore- 
after-  

VI

I knew it already                                            
            I’ve known it thirty years
time hasn’t passed
the same strolling about as always

when I am not near
            or inside you
I exile myself and it hurts
                                                —who would understand?
those capable of extracting beauty
from the dust gathered
on barbed wire?

VII

Good night                  street-corner professor
            Sweet ladies
            oh flowers of England   good night

a Uruguayan was in the sauna recently
or Paraguayan a guy from Ceará         an Italian
with a thick penis like Michelangelo’s
a Korean          worker’s
all yours
virile city
                        or virago lover
a succulent virago
                        you put on a show with
your dense bodies
            that educate the eyes
            and satisfy

VIII

I saw the Paraguayan go astray in the night  
                                                            lose himself in your
                                                            magnificent maquette
and confessed to myself the bittersweet word
            —what impressions will remain of his plimsolls
            on the rough edge of the curb
particles of neglect
            that chafing for eight hundred yards
                        toward the metro

soon day will break
the forecast is cloudy
like a stab

IX

sixteen degrees on Avenida Paulista
corner follows corner
Peixoto Gomide
Rocha Azevedo
Joaquim Eugênio de Lima
Frei Caneca
Augusta
            councillors of the Empire
            the Uruguayan town planner
            the autonomist man of the cloth
            the street that refers to Lisbon
and your apostolic name crossing them all:

under the sign of Saul
you announce our road to Damascus
and will take his name to all corners
that is your vertigo
                                                highland climate
that is your
                                    mission

even the bromeliads and epiphytes
                                                            agree
and intone your
hymn

X

ceaselessly
            here it doesn’t matter if night
            or broad daylight
some anonymous Caravaggio
paints in chiaroscuro
                                                Avenida Paulista
is your road to Damascus
                                                in the Americas
you will prevail
                                                —the dead leaves
will be cleared away tomorrow
before the rotors of your helicopters
dispel them
                                    I’ll go with them to the nothing never
                                    I’ll abandon you
                                    as I do now

 

XI

eleven moments of walking revived
I flick through you in three minutes
                                                            cubes
                                                            cubes
                                                            cubes
leaves that scatter

 
yes I’m going with them
                                                toward my interior
                                                sanctuary
                                                in chiaroscuro illuminating myself
unwinding what there is
the now
the now is what there is
the where is the now
                                                under your
                                                hooves

 

São Paulo, 17-19. VII.05

© Horácio Costa. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 Stefan Tobler. All rights reserved.

I
 
dezesseis graus na Paulista
tinha o verso tão estruturado esta manhã
e dirijo no fluxo

nunca houve lugar mais belo

nem cidadão mais fiel
 

II
 
chamam-te floresta de concreto       urbe d’aço
exageros         

tomo emprestado
olhares migrantes        aves d’arribação

fixei a ventania que juntou montes

d’outonais folhas na sarjeta
o céu brilhava
diadema d’Imperatriz
mulher que nunca tive
 

III
 
pude voltar com o meu olhar estranho
que sabe desnudar as tuas topografias

luxo supremo         

agridoce:
ninguém dirá que és

“um ninho de pelicanos”           por aqui
nenhuma falésia
                                    ainda que
                                                            gratuitas
adornam bromélias as tuas
                                                            árvores
 
 

IV
 
Clima de serra      disse a Vera

o momento exalou inspiração
quase ninguém conecta com ele
                                                            teus
uma vez pristinos rios

transformados em

esgotos
                                                -quem o negaria?
exiges um olhar educado
                                                em
constante educação
                                    que restitua a matéria
para lá do coriáceo do teu corpo
 

V
 
pude voltar
                        luxo supremo
Koh-I-Noor da coroa inexistente
                        só intuída
para sofrer as epifanias

necessárias
cidade vestibular
            vestíbulo para alguma coisa não lírica
            também lírica
            pré-
semi-
            para-
            meta-
            pós-
            ante-
            trás-
 

VI
 
já o sabia
            há trinta anos o sabia
não passou o tempo
o deambular permanece
                                   
quando não me encontro perto
            ou dentro de ti
exilo-me e dói
                        -quem compreenderia?
os capazes de extrair beleza
do pó acumulado
sobre um arame farpado?
 

VII
 
Boa noute             professor de esquina
Sweet ladies
oh flower of England   boa noute
 
um uruguaio havia há pouco na sauna
ou paraguaio              um cearense             um italiano
de membro parrudo como o de Michelangelo
um coreano              trabalhadores
teus
cidade viril
                        ou amante virago
suculenta virago
                        transformas em espetáculo
os teus corpos densos
            que ao olhar educam
            e satisfazem
 

VIII
 
vi o paraguaio extraviar-se na noite
                                    perder-se em tua
                                    magnífica maquete
e me confessei a palavra agridoce
            -que impressões ficarão de seus tênis
            sobre a rugosidade do meio-fio?
partículas de desamparo
            aquele friccionar oitocentos metros
                        rumo ao metrô
                                   
breve subirá o dia
prevê-se uma manhã nublada
como uma estocada
 

IX
 
dezesseis graus na Avenida Paulista
sucedem-se esquinas
Peixoto Gomide      
Rocha Azevedo      
Joaquim Eugênio de Lima    
Frei Caneca
Augusta
            conselheiros do Império
            o urbanista uruguaio
            o religioso autonomista
            a rua que remete a Lisboa
e tudo atravessa o teu nome de cidade apostólica:
 
sob o signo de Saulo
anuncias o nosso caminho a Damasco
e levarás o seu nome a todos os rincões
esta a tua vertigem
                                    clima de serra
esta a tua
                        missão
 
até as bromélias e as epífitas

concordam
e entoam o teu
hino

X
 
incessantemente
            aqui não importa ser noite
            ou dia claro
no chiaroscuro pinta algum
Caravaggio anônimo
                                    a Paulista
é teu caminho a Damasco

na América
you will prevail
                                    -as folhas mortas
estarão recolhidas amanhã
antes que as hélices dos teus helicópteros
as desfaçam
                        irei com elas para o nunca jamais
                        te abandonarei
                        como faço agora

XI
 
onze tempos de passeio redivivos
te percorro em três minutos
                                                cubos
                                                cubos
                                                cubos
folhas que se dispersam
 
sim vou com elas
                                    rumo ao meu santuário
                                    interior
                                    no chiaroscuro me ilumino
deslindo o que há
o agora
o agora é o que há
o onde é o agora

sob os teus

cascos                                                             

 

 

 

SP 17/19 VII 05
 




Horácio CostaHorácio Costa

Horácio Costa holds degrees from the Universidade de São Paulo (USP), New York University, and Yale, and taught Brazilian and Portuguese literatures at the National Autonomous University of Mexico from 1987 to 2001. Since then he has taught Portuguese literature at the School of Philosophy and Letters at USP. He has published ten books in Portuguese, many of which have been translated into Spanish. His most recent is Ciclópico Olho [Cyclopean Eye, 2011]. His Bernini: poemas 20082010 will be published in 2013. His work was collected in the anthology Fracta and published in Portuguese in 2005 and Spanish in 2008 to wide critical acclaim. Horácio Costa's poetry has been translated into over ten languages. He has translated into Portuguese poets such as Octavio Paz and Elizabeth Bishop. A militant gay, his most recent critical work is Retratos do Brasil Homossexual (São Paulo, 2010), a book which gathers essays from the IV conference of the Brazilian Association of Homocultural Studies, of which he was president from 2006 to 2008. He and his husband divide their time between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Translated from PortuguesePortuguese by Stefan ToblerStefan Tobler

Stefan Tobler is the founder of And Other Stories, the publisher who launched Deborah Levy’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted Swimming Home and Carlos Gamerro’s acclaimed The Islands, along with many more award-winning books. It works with networks of writers and translators to handpick the best of international literature for its subscribers and all lovers of fine writing. Stefan Tobler is also a literary translator from Portuguese and German, most recently of Rodrigo de Souza Leão and Clarice Lispector.