Cleaving Saramago

Rua do Alecrim

“A man can go astray
even when he follows
a straight line.”
—José Saramago,
The Year of the Death
of Ricardo Reis


the silky texture — of her sleeve
the warmth — of her skin…
Lydia lowered— her eyes
moved sideways — his hand accompanied her
they remained like that — for a few seconds
now she departs — she will not regain
her composure — in a hurry…
labyrinths are — like Lisbon streets
crossroads — blind alleys…
The Rua do Alecrim — up down
left right — Ferragial Remolares Arsenal
Vinte e Quatro de Julho —the unwindings
of the skeins the web — Boavista Crucifixo
even a man with — the sight of 2 eyes
needs a light — he can follow


watching the spectacle — of the world
call it wisdom — aloofness indifference
upbringing what — Ricardo Reis requires
is a guide dog — a walking stick
a light — Lisbon is a dark mist
north south — east west
all merging — sloping downward


Ricardo Reis — falls headlong
to the bottom — a tailor’s dummy
a manikin — without legs
just a head — Cherico-esque
Fernando Pessoa — is dead unique
irreplaceable returning — from Rio
I walk down — Avenida da Liberdade
Both poets dead — yet here I am
our portraits — in oval frames


watching the spectacle — of the world
I go astray — even when I follow
a straight line — entering Rossio
crossroads of 4 — or 8 choices
taken and retraced — letting chance guide me
driving letting — myself be driven
by forces unknown — even if I knew
what would — I know?


Pessoa the poet — hoards his poems
journalists scratch — their ass
critics publish — rubbish
I tap the pavement — little is gained from
secondaire lit queans — Pessoa hoards
his poems unlike other geniuses — dot dot dot
I let myself go astray — entering Rossio
letting Lisbon — guide me past
Freire the Engraver’s — shiny bronze nameplates
lawyers doctors — notaries
important “compass” people — but poets?
nameplates deceive — so do journalist
& critic’s questions — poets reply with action
with action — they ask questions
such questions converge — our change is
thru our senses — poet questions
don’t require answers — heteronyms work better
just ask Alberto Caeiro — and company…

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