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Sixteen Degrees on Avenida Paulista

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.