A Letter to Europe

Europe is rightfully mine, but I am not, nor would I ever wish to be European.

Nor would Europe have me. It is fine with my presence only as long as I’m from a distant stolen overbearing land you “discovered” for me. Nonetheless Europe is mine.

And not because I could buy it (I can’t). And not because it is in my blood. This they would happily concede. I can even live there as long as I don’t have anything deeper to say about who you are, who we are, what we’ve done. Together.

Terrible collaboration. You promised us wealth you thought you could take back later. As you’ve so often done. And we committed your crimes for you: kidnapping, murder, rape, plunder. And gained our peculiar taste for blood. Memories for cotton and gold. An empire of smoke. Fake smiles, false hope, perverted dreams. Now you do as we tell you, as long as we don’t try to tell you who you are. Europe is mine. 

It was mine even when you wouldn’t have me, didn’t need me, pretended not to know my name, as you stole my food and my land starving me on rotten starches in Ireland, pushed me into ghettos, camps and graves in Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Belarus, Hungary… I could go on.

Europe is mine.

We’re the monster you created in your image. Overbearing Americans. Ignorant Americans. Imperialist Americans. Exceptional Americans. White night. We’re your brothers, we’re your children and your parents, we’re your nightmare, we’re your four horsemen, we’re Pandora and the box, both Jupiter and Saturn, holy partners in sin.

Yes, Lord.

Yet I long to wander the streets of Prague, Vienna and Petrograd, Dublin and Belfast, Gomel and Uman, rural Kerry and Donegal, to hold them close, to see more than lost shadows, touch more than broken earth and stone, hear more than a jumble of wispy half-remembered words torn out from a promise of edifying memories, of more than sorrow, fear and pain, to speak in disremembered dismembered tongues, whispering that I’m not lost, oh no, I am found, to belong to more than somber songs urging me to keep the children in the school or to come back to hushed valleys and visit the dead, Europe is still mine… 

But America (in all its plurals) is not mine. And never will be. And never should be. Nor is Africa. Nor Asia. Nor the so called “Middle East”. Still there I am, here I am. An uninvited guest, overstaying, “mistaking” hospitality for generosity for thanksgiving for salvation for destiny for cries for help for natural hierarchy for family values for fait accompli. I’ll leave my shoes on thank you very much. Just slide the keys under the door.

So I pray if there is any justice, if there is any hope, if truth has any meaning at all, you and I will be devoured and Europe will be theirs. 

If you love it, set it free.

Machete Dance

Oh lord I don’t understand
I couldn’t explain

You used to be so quiet
Our invisible angel
Working your magic
While we slept

You labored so hard
We were so proud
We thought you knew
We thought you knew

I know we never went
Down to see you
We didn’t need to
A relationship built on trust

Why would you come up?
The light’s bad for your eyes
Why would you come up?
A place for everything and everything in its place

I could see it in your eyes
You were not well
It wasn’t hard to tell
We told you to rest

Who could have predicted?
Those eyes
Those perturbing red and green eyes
Lost in a sea of white

That horrible nose
Hair sticking out
Snot falling out
Bulbous, porous, yellow and red

Not a pleasant sight
But not a monster either

Those hands
So much kindness in those hands
So much cruelty in those hands
What did we ever do to you?

Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!
Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!

Say good night!
I am not afraid, Sir!
Say good night!
Lead me back home, Sir!

A giant snake
Slithered out of your right sleeve
And devoured my daughter
Devoured my daughter, cruel fiend!

A pack of bats
Flew out of your left sleeve
And devoured my son
Devoured my son, cruel fiend!

Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!
Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!

Say good night!
I am not afraid, Sir!
Say good night!
Lead me back home, Sir!

Crawled out of your pants, Good Lord
They crawled out of your pants, cruel fiend
And devoured my wife

But the machete
You pulled it out of your belt
Oh, you pulled it out of your belt
Yes, you pulled it out of your belt

A flaming machete
It lit up your face
No skin or blood at all
Just sunken empty dry bone

Was God punishing me? Oh no!
Was Satan punishing me? Oh no!
I treated you right
You demon-dead-man-maniac-ghost

Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!
Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!

Say good night!
I am not afraid, Sir!
Say good night!
Lead me back home, Sir!

The cemetery is calling
The cemetery is calling

A rusty old machete
You pulled it out from your belt
and hacked me up
You hacked me up, cruel fiend!

I had done nothing
Just trying to help
I didn’t deserve
Degenerate jealousy, madness, no faith

Was it all a bad dream?
Are you still laboring below?
Tell me, oh Lord
Are you still laboring below?

I should beat some morals into you
or bury you in a hole

Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!
Oh, follow the swing of the machete and dance!
Oh, hear it strike, hear it strike!

Say good night!
I am not afraid, Sir!
Say good night!
Lead me back home, Sir!

Forever Walking

Walking and walking
You can go nowhere

Stares and frowns
Rushed closed and locked
Doors and hushed voices

What are you doing here?
What am I doing here?
What a bother

Walking and walking
Nowhere you can go

If we talked to everyone
Would we still be alone?

The door’s open
Come in
Have a tea, fix my shower

Life is a series of transactions
But we only fake it half the time
Assuming you can cleave halves and haves

Life is getting screamed at
In a parking lot
Without knowing why

People just want assurance
So shut up
And give it to them

Walking and walking
Forever you can go

There’s so much I know
It feels like I know everything
Until I leave my bed

Never trust a poet

This talk of equality
sounds so very beautiful
but would you not sell them all out
for a brick of French cheese?

Would you not chop up their toes
and toss them in a stew
if someone offered to serve
your head on an album cover?

You speak to me of
challenges you’ve faced
I believe you
I do

But challenges come cheap
in this fucking world
and some people have a pile
a goddamn mountain collection

Maybe one day you’d give up the cheese
and the vinyl
but would you relinquish a suffering past
fucking would you?

We’re all Superman in our heads
we may even rage like Batman
but in our hearts, our stubborn little hearts
we’re still trembling knights of banality

When the queen is dead
we’d probably be moved to tears
but we’d sooner fight for prestige
than honor

We’d sooner lock ourselves in a cage
than free the world
and we’d rather live off death
than die living

It’s too cold out for odes to equality
so put a jacket on
and go back inside
or you’ll catch something

Far from books and desk
shivering, is no place
to long to be clever or original
it’s why they say: Never trust a poet!

Owl of Freedom

Jean Francois was the first black to rebel in Haiti
Take me to Haiti
I wish I was there now
put me on a boat
throw me on a plane

send me off to Haiti
send me off to Haiti
my mind is too weak

I couldn’t say how
I wish I knew how
something in the breeze
I feel it shaking in my heart

sweet airs of freedom
free me from the weak
and cowardly face
looking out of a mirror

I don’t see how
courage will find me
but it might, Papa
when I set foot in Haiti

like an alligator standing in a forest grove
waiting for the blessed blood of the future
I’m shivering, Good God
and the owl of freedom eludes me

as they play the drums
boom boom
as they play the drums
took took in the mountains behind the mountains

paint me a picture of Haiti
sing me a sweet song from Haiti
that’s all I have left, Good God
an image, a sound, a poem, a dance

a dream, my dream
or yours?
What are they worth?
What am I worth?

a student, a pilgrim, a loafer or a thief?
am I lying to you and myself?
no matter, leave some rum at the crossroads
and wait

hearing the train go by
hearing the wind go by
hearing the rain tap tap
and longing for Haiti

tell me again about victory
Papa, tell me again
I am nothing alone
we are nothing alone…

Burning Snow


I hate the white snow
Falling down on me
I hate when it gets cold

I hate your snowy city
Bearing down on me
I hate the chill before a storm

But it’s coming
Warmer airs are coming
Some 500 years past their date

The snow will stop falling
I’ll burn it all up
In a steamy bath for the sun

I will render dreams ash on the ground
Crispy charcoal will I make their gold and cry
Smoke out the lies! Smoke out the lies!

How I miss the tropical sun
How I loved its warm embrace
How it would swallow my fears

But it’s gone
and I’m gone
Lifeless paste no more

Happy to feel snow on my fingers
Ignoring the white ice inside
The moon died within, the sun dwindled within

Exu let me in
Ogum grant me a sword
Xango at my side I will strike

Let the snow be gone
May their horde of saints run
So our city might shiver no more

It is right to burn the snow
That torments us
It is right to turn the ice into rain

Thoughts on an Old Man


I think about the old man a lot lately
What must have been going through the head
of that desperate wrinkly hairy sweaty mass
shoveling flesh of flesh blood of blood down his gullet?

Was he thinking about the taste, neither salty nor sweet?
Was he struck by the texture on his teeth?
Was he pondering the world gradually slipping away?
Was he overcome with jealous paranoid relief?

Relief that the future wouldn’t overcome the past
Relief that the taste wasn’t so bad
Relief that the babe hadn’t made too much noise
Relief that salvation exists for those willing to seize it

Did he know who or what he was eating?
Or had he just grown accustomed
to thoughtless alimentary consumption?
there’s no time to look anymore — down it and go

Or had he done it for their own good?
The world belongs to the strong and the brave after all
kids have to learn the facts early on
or they’ll never make it

They’ll never make it
they’ll never make it…

…maybe I’ll ask him one day when I’m strong and brave
after slicing his belly open and tossing him in a cage

Um tal país do sexo


“Travesti de lambada e deusa das águas”, de Bia Leite, 2013. Obra que estava na exposição ‘Queermuseu’. DIVULGAÇÃO

Brasil não é (apesar do que muitos gringos pensam) e nunca era o país do sexo. Num país do sexo de verdade, se discutiria coisas mais interessantes do que como um sexo heterossexual sabor de baunilha é bom, ou se a traição é culpa do traidor ou do traído. Se discutiria coisas mais interessantes do que se alguém está fazendo sexo com todos ou não está fazendo sexo com ninguém. Se encontraria palavras mais interessantes e mais adequados para descrever o sexo do que ‘natural’. Se discutiria o que significa sentir atraído por uns e não por outros e por que, além de alguma estética supostamente universal ou o bom senso de quem nos curte e a falta de bom senso em quem não. Se discutiria porque um ato entre dois vira da conta de todos e acaba construindo ou destruindo capital social. Se discutiria como fazer um sexo que enaltece e não rebaixa. Se discutiria a inevitabilidade de pessoas diferentes terem gostos diferentes e a obrigação de conviver com isso no âmbito social. A arte pode ajudar a fomentar essas conversas mais interessantes, mas somente se as pessoas estiverem dispostas a conversar.

Sim, certas coisas não deveriam ser aceitas como a pedofilia, a zoofilia ou o estupro mas sem a capacidade de sequer conversar sobre elas, se desvia o olhar do mal, se perde a capacidade até de dizer o por que e de onde provém, se inventa qualquer desculpa fácil e mais alguns inocentes se fodem.

Não podemos perder de vista que viver numa sociedade necessariamente significa ser exposto a cada conversa sem noção com cada pessoa tão nada a ver que nenhum de nós consegue imaginar todas — para senti-lo é só dar uma olhada na música tosca no playlist da pessoa ao lado ou os videos idiotas que assistem antes de dormir. Ou tomamos isso como uma oportunidade para renovarmos nosso pacto com o amor alheio, criarmos novos laços e construirmos uma sociedade melhor ou o usamos como justificativa para a crueldade interna de cada um.

O país do sexo morreu. Viva o país do sexo.

Apology of a Dragon Rider

“I like to ride dragons. The breeze in my face. The warm scales below my butt. What can I say? It’s an experience everyone should live at least once.

“Some people might say it’s wrong, but they’ve clearly never been on a winged-beast going 350 kilometers per hour. Or seen a monster breathe fire onto a truck until it burst into flames. Or devour the charred remains of — well, sometimes it’s hard to tell what it was.

“Don’t tell me that dragons belong in the wild. What does that even mean? Is there such a thing as a flying reptile’s natural habit? Or better yet, is there anywhere that isn’t? Who am I to say? Mankind always wants to interfere in nature’s business and for what?

“The truth is the opposite. It’s humanity that belongs in the wild. We could stand to lose the smattering of societal pretensions that hold us down. Our true self can’t be found sitting at a desk or a table or walking a dog or driving past countless indiscernible street-tied banalities.

“But serpentine flight can take us there.

“Haven’t you ever felt that your life could be so much more?

“Lock me up if you must to justify the fear burrowing into your guts, but don’t call it abuse, don’t say I didn’t love and do everything I could for the creatures. Don’t call me a criminal! I let them fly where they wanted, eat what they wanted, kill, mame or burn down the world itself if it pleased them. They were taken care of.

“The feeling was mutual.

“I discovered who I am and what I’m truly capable of? Have you?”

He was led away slowly to await the jury’s decision — they found him guilty of course! Did you expect a different outcome? That poor child was dead after all.

Splotches of red on gray

“I wanted to tell you a short story before I placed you in front of the wall and shot you. I wasn’t always such an angry young man. There were flowers and puppies in my past too, like everyone else. I blew on dandelions and dreamed of holding a girl’s hand.

“Life can be beautiful.

“I haven’t lost sight of that. I wouldn’t be here if I’d forgotten. But death can also be beautiful. That’s why we build countless monuments, big and small, in it’s honor. Even when we’re lying in the ground, we still aspire to soar up to the sky. Nobody gives a fuck about whether the pharaoh beat his wife thousands of years ago or treated his people with compassion or cruelty. No, they care about getting a selfie with the pyramids and ogling some lifeless wrapped up remains in a museum in case it springs to life.

“My father died when I was twelve. Or at least I think he died. They arrested him one day, and on the next day he was neither lying in the earth nor soaring in the sky. He was just inexplicably unjustifiably gone. They wouldn’t even speak his name.

“Sometimes I wonder where the girl from my dreams ended up. Is she designing dresses or mending them? Studying in Zurich or stuck in the same hole where we both grew up, now no longer a child but unable to ever quite reach adulthood? It’d be better if she stayed the young, beautiful, shy but still smiling girl with long dark brown hair and infinite freckles from my dreams. Maybe in another world she would have become my wife. Who can say?

“But I chose a different path. Cruel fate knocked me over and fashioned me into a speedy arrow, and now I must fly.

“Do you remember last year? It seemed like it was five straight months of endless protests and snow. Spring couldn’t have come any sooner, and when it did, it was like a flood. I’d never fired a gun before, but you changed all that.

“Maybe now you wish you weren’t such a coward. You wouldn’t be here in this situation now. And if I’m being honest, it could just as easily be me tied up and you with a gun in your hands. But it’s not. I thank God for that!

“I don’t want to die anymore than anybody else. But I’m a piece of shit. I drink too much, I smoke too much, I never shut my fucking mouth. Maybe I’d deserve it. Nevertheless there is the small fact that I’m right.

“You hesitated. I didn’t. You stepped on the tracks. Now the train to the future is bearing me forward shining its great light upon the patches of darkness. May injustice and barbarism be damned!”

It was an inconspicuous concrete wall, ugly and dull, now covered in splotches of red, and nobody could be sure whether the next rain would wash it off.