Like a film needing 24 frames per second for the image to stay intact on the screen and within viewing range, perhaps humans are actually super accelerated repetitions of themselves, sustained in their own appearance and visibility at a proportion of 100 frames per billionth of a second. So, for example, that young man going through the nightclub doors with an explosive vest underneath his black sweater, and that pale waitress behind the counter of an airport café waiting anxiously for her boyfriend's mother to approach, fussing over her bag, from which she pulls out a 9-millimeter pistol, continues to be nothing more than that pale waitress behind the counter of an airport café waiting anxiously for her boyfriend's mother to approach, fussing over her bag, from which she pulls out a 9-millimeter pistol, all in one smooth uninterrupted movement. Or almost. Because just as deviation or sabotage in a single photogram of the 24 that glide merrily or solemnly across the full length of the wretched cinematographic second, would not successfully alter the image as we see it on screen, given the precarious nature of the human eye in its ability to perceive deviation, the possible metamorphosis of that young man in a black sweater exploding inside the nightclub, or of the pale waitress behind the counter with her chest perforated by a 9-millimeter bullet, and even considering the possibility of an extremely odd metamorphosis, such as into an ox, tapir, or baby Rabindranath Tagore, given that this would be limited to a single frame amongst the 100 others of that billionth of a second, it would not be captured by our precarious retinal system, and we would actually succeed only in seeing the phenomenal and enviable continuity of the young man's black sweater amongst the ruins of the nightclub, and people collected by the police and transported to the windswept pavement, and the piercing on the lip of the pale waitress, fallen behind the counter onto a small pool of blood. In a concert in homage to Witold Lutoslawski, however, the boxing angel was able to see several metamorphoses of the pianist Martha Argerich, into a black deer, a winter's day, dregs of wine, golden rain, and countless other prodigies, metamorphoses each lasting less than even a billionth of a nanosecond, permitting, for the rest of the audience, that beautiful, long-haired figure at the piano to continue for the entire duration of the packed-out show, to be the renowned Argentine pianist Martha Argerich. [End Page 16]
Part One: Paradise
It was when the light came backand we saw the faceof the girl who'd been shooting upby the Aterro wall,blotched T-shirt,dirty syringe."No poemis more difficultthan its era,"you saidinto my earand I didn't knowif you were talking abouther or about the bookgoing from your handsinto the pocketof your jacket.In the distance,we could seeRasa Island,we put on our sneakersand continuedwithout obstaclestowards the shore.
Part Two: Purgatory
I said:could you possiblyplease answer againthat question I asked you?I said: lets make the mostof this cold, sweet sun,piercing the clouds, [End Page 17] this good walkto the car park,and talk moreabout that thing?I did understandwhat you said,but later, I gotdistracted. I wasdistracted with something,I don't know whatexactly, perhapsthe courage of thosewomen under thewaterfall explodingso very colddown the rocksor what was being shoutedby those womenunder the waterfall explodingso very colddown the rocks,maybe the lizardswere startled,and bolted off, terrifiedup the rocks,into the thickness.I said: the lizardschanged color.the fact is,I wanted to ask youplease could you repeatwhat you said to me.could you possiblyrepeat it? I said:sometimes I dream abouta big accident.and sometimes I dreamabout atoms joining togetherto generate that thingwe could callthe big accident,the big one,the one everyonesooner or later [End Page 18] will have toface up to and see.I said: and it's alwayslike a countrybecoming awarethat it'sat war, one daya country becomes awarethat the wareveryone talks about isits own war,the countryis your country, and what they callwar isyour life. I said:for example,open your eyes and look:in a zeptosecondthere are no more lizardsnow, nor rocknow, nor that verycold waterfallnow, nor womenshouting nowthose mostsingularand unrepresentable things,and it all happensin a kind of videostream or"a lacuna inlife or in the languagethrough whichour antagonists penetrate."I said: do you get it?that is exactlywhat happensin my dreamed-upaccidents
I rememberyou talkingabout somethingrelated topresence and metaphysics.I said: [End Page 19] oh, there's the carthe red four-wheel driveright underthose trees,under that showerof yellow, purple,crumpled petals.some other daybefore you get backI'll learn what all these treesare calledthe onesyou asked mefor details on,that I just couldn'tprovide,is that ok?now it occurred to meto ask if you hadcontinuedwith your writing.you used to really likewriting,to write,as we used to say,and you had sometruly luminousideas on this.and don't take thisthe wrong way but will youdo me the favorof repeating youranswer to myquestion, please?it would meana lot to me, you know?well, perhapsyou don't rememberafter all it all got a bitinterruptedbecause we were laughingand because of theastonishment wefelt when we sawthe enormous clouds [End Page 20] the most gigantic onesof the season and, in factlead colored,the color of the color of lead,and not even if I repeatedthis a thousand timeswould it give an idea of howthey were the color of the color of leadthose cloudsthat completely coveredthe scenery wehad made so much effort,had walked so far,so long, to see,to find, the highestpossible placeto see it, and it ended upnot working outor ratherit all worked out ifas you saidour secret plan,secret even toourselves,was to look forthe best placein Paineiras to viewthe most colossaland lead-coloredand the color of the color of leadclouds of the season coveringthe sky and the scenery, don't you think?which would not bein any wayinsignificantfrom the point of viewof the mystic who always saidhe smoked so as to puta bit of fogbetween himself and the world.I said: I needto tell you what I registeredas beingapproximatelywhat you said, [End Page 21] but clearlyit won't bewhat you reallysaid, it's onlyan adaptationand because of thisit can indeed only existby misting upthe original information,with the appearance only as a paleshadow of what isbrilliant and luminous in itself:its singular purpose.and if I repeat thesewords it is not so thatyou think that Ifor even one momentimagined that youwere capable of sayingsomething obvious,please, don't letanything of the kindinto your head,it's just so thatyou know whatI'm talking about and youremind me and explain,returning to the topicall the complexitythat Iunwillinglysubtracted from it.
I remember youruffling yourbeautiful hairand I rememberit making a soundor rathernot quite a soundbut something that must havecome from the microworldof sound vibrations,and I got goosebumps,goosebumps, on the nape of my neck [End Page 22] all down it, immediately, andthen you also scared a beea venomous one, on the edgeof your Coke can and thenyou said somethinglike this:"as I no longer have any issuewith metaphysics, Iam not waiting fora presence in order toexperiment whatI experiment, I experimentevery day."I think that if I thenended up getting distractedif I was distracted, it wasbecause shortlyafterwards—do you remember?we had goneat most around twentysteps up the hillside—a gap opened upin the middle of the clouds,a tube or something,delivering to us,from above:the sun, shiningwith its hundred suns,and from below:the pit of the abyss,the city,the mayhem,the row of palm treesof some street,unrecognizableat least to me,but one I would liketo continue watchingfor a long, undeterminedtime on a summerafternoon, and for a secondit made all the sense in the world,our absurd coming and goingthrough athletes,grasses, [End Page 23] waterfalls, andacrobatic dogs,it really was as ifthe rotten tiesof perceptionhad suddenly brokenbut onlybecause with the visionof that sunand from that outstandinginferior worldof heavy trafficand a row of palm treescame the throat-clearedmusic of our voices sayingwhat they said and how they said it,and the sounds of everything there:the athletes, the lizards,the waterfalls,the acrobatic dogs,and everything that could, then,in a zeptosecondhave its scaleof magnitude reducedand its existence placedin doubt in a colossalaccident
I said:I think you shouldthink hardabout the writing thing,I always liked yourwriting,did you know?I sincerely don't know howyou managed to get so quicklyand definitively to whatto me remains anindefinable andinexhaustiblesource of wonder.the things you used to writehad the capacityto instantly producewith so few words [End Page 24] something establishinga complete relationshipbetween disenchantedconsciencesand it left mecompletely enchanted.
I said:of course they'll let youwrite in there,is there any room for sucha doubt? heywhat kind of placedo you think you'rebeing taken to?
I hope I also won't havefurther questionson metaphysicsand presence, as yourightly saidmy case boils downto the fact thatI am simplya man of silence,equipped by you,or rather,the silence is my ownequipment.but tell me (I said)wasn't it something like that,that came out of that baseand explained so veryvery concisely, butwhich in your voiceand wise expressionis turned intoa string of unexpectedconsequences, peeling backa gush of sharp,corrosive pertinence,like the petals of thesick rose,wanderingdisordered,powerful and incisive, [End Page 25] until magnifyinginto a formulationat onceclear and biunivocal?
Part Three: Inferno
povres fameletespovres hospitaulxpovres gens F. Villon
You recognized heras the Korean girlfrom PhotocopyCentral in Catetethat girl withthe blotched T-shirtfluorescent hairbandswalland hypodermic needle hangingfrom her armand you hugged meand looked at me with a lookthat crossed right through meto come outbehind meright in front of thefuture of days bazaarin the middle of all themirrored baublesanother gray twilightanother rainy nightwith no lightin which we'd seehell reflectedin the eyesof a stray dog crossingthe Aterro highwaygroundedby the headlight beams(lightning from no heavens)of the four-by-foursat full speed. [End Page 26]
A young man makes circleswith smoke from a cigaretteand is lyingon the floorreading a book
In front of him is another young manalso making circles with smokefrom a cigaretteand also lyingon the floorreading a book
The first man has his knees bent upwardsand between his kneesin the airhe holds the front wheel of a bicycle
The second man also has his knees bent upwardsand between his kneesin the airhe holds the back wheel of a bicycle
While microscopic liferevolves however it canaccording to its own lawsthe two young mencontinue to readand make circleswith the smokefrom their cigaretteshardly disguisingnonethelessthe not-small effortof holding a bicyclebetween their knees. [End Page 27]
Even more so becausesitting on the bicyclesuspended in the airpedalingovercome with enthusiasmis a girlaged eightrunning away from homewith all her simplicityand all her delightrunning away from homewith all her sexand all the tomorrowsbrunning away from homewith all her strengthand all the mountains
Here we addthat the room in whichthis scene occurs is entirely blackfrom the thick bituminous darknessof targiving the smoke circlesproduced by the two young menlying therea luminous effectnot as luminoushoweveras the faceof the girlwhileovercome with freneticenthusiasmshe pedalsand talkswithout stoppingshe pedalsin standstilland without stopping [End Page 28]
At this momentthe boxing angelstops describingthe scene heis watchingand thinks that if something of ussurvives to the endof the linewith thoughta remote hypothesisyesbut still a hypothesisbut still remotethen the boxing angelpromises himselfin this improbablehypothesisto use allpossibilitiesof smuggling inat the time of deathand into deathdupingthe brainwashof heavensomethingsomeslightestthingof this girlher smilethe color of her eyesthe shape ofher little boots [End Page 29]
Carlito Azevedo was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1961. A poet, translator, and editor, he is the author of Sublunar (2001), Monodrama (2015), and Livro daspostagens [Book of posts] (2016). His first collection of poetry, Collapsus linguae [Collapsed languages] (1991), was awarded the Jabuti Poetry Prize. He cofounded and edited the contemporary poetry journal Inimigo rumor [Hostile rumor] and has translated into Portuguese the writing of Max Jacob, Henri Michaux, René Char, Jean Follain, and other poets.