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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. 

Night of Calunga in the Bairro Cabula

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
nameless and again

dying with each
hole opened

in the musculature
of the person I once was.

I died how many times
in the bleeding bruised night?

In the night of calunga
so long and so heavy,

I died how many times
on that terrible night?

The night most death
and there I was

dying again
voiceless and again

dying with each
bullet lodged

in the deepest depths
of what I remain

(and with each silence
of stone and mortar

that sheds the white
of your indifference

onto the shadow
of what I no longer am

and never will be again).
I died how many times

in the night of calunga?
In the brackish night,

night without end,
the oceanic night, all

emptied of blood,
I died how many times

in the terrible night
the night of calunga

in the Bairro Cabula?
I’ve died so many times

but they never kill me
once and for all.

My blood is a seed
that the wind roots

in the belly of the earth
and I am born again

and again and my name
is that which does not die

before making the night
no longer the silent

partner of death
but the mother that births

children the color of night
and watches over them

as a panther
who shows, in the light

of her gaze and in
the sharpness of her teeth,

just what she will do
if the hand of evil

even imagines
troubling the sleep

of her cub.
I’ve died so many times 

but I am always
reborn stronger

brave and beautiful—
all I know is to be.

I am many, I extend
across the world

and across time inside
me and I am so many

one day I will make
life live.

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 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.
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