poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

poetic forms

About this poet

Ricardo Aleixo was born in 1960 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He is the author of six books, including his latest Pesado demais para a ventania: antología poetica (Todavia, 2018). Best known for his poetry’s visual and social characteristics, his work draws connections between concrete poetry and ethno-poetry. In 2004, Aleixo won a grant from the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional (National Library Foundation), and in 2010 he won the “Literatura para Todos Award” from the Brazilian Ministry of Education. He lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 

I Know You by Your Scent

Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan

I know you
by your scent,

by your clothes,
by your cars,

by your rings and,
of course,

by your love
of money.

By your love
of money

that some
distant ancestor

left you
as inheritance.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by your scent

and by the dollar signs
that embellish

your eyes that
hardly blink

for your
love of money.

For your love
of money

and all that
negates life:

the asylum, the
cell, the border.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by the scent

of pestilence and horror
that spreads

wherever you go
—I know you

by your love
of money.

Under your love
of money,

God is a
father so cheap

he charges
for his miracles.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by the scent,

of sulfur,
which you can’t mask

which clings to
all that you touch

for the love
of money.

For your love
of money,

you respond
with loathing

to a smile, to pleasure,
to poetry.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by your scent.

Smell one of you and
I’ve smelled all

of you who
survive only

by your love
of money.

For the love
of money,

you turn even
your own daughters

to hard currency,
to pure gold.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by your scent.

I know you
by the stench

of your rotting
corpse that

somehow
walks

for its love
of money.

Originally published in the December 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Ricardo Aleixo. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Dan Hanrahan. All rights reserved.

Originally published in the December 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Ricardo Aleixo. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Dan Hanrahan. All rights reserved.

Ricardo Aleixo

Ricardo Aleixo was born in 1960 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

 

by this poet

poem
Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan

I died how many times
in the longest night?

In the motionless night,
heavy and long,

I died how many times
on the night of calunga?

The night does not end
and here I am

dying again
poem
Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan

I am whatever you think a black man is. You almost never think about black men. I will always be what you want a black man to be. I am your black man. I’ll never be only your black man. I am