Felipa set the caravels on fire

Hi, folks,

Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have three poems by Brazilian author Adelaide Ivánova, translated by Francisco Vilhena. You can find the whole series here, along with other Brazilian gems. Enjoy!

Yours truly,


for laura

in 1998 when they found
the gay body of matthew shepard
his whole face was bloodied
but for two stripes
where his tears
had flowed
that day the cyclist
who found him did not
call the police right away
because the body of matthew
was so disfigured
that the cyclist thought he’d seen
a scarecrow

last saturday in são paulo
a group of men
and two Military Police killed laura
not without first
torturing her laura
was seen still alive
by some guy
who recorded
and posted the youtube video
of a laura disorientated
and who wouldn’t be
blood spewing from the mouth and from the back
of the dress?

laura has a body
and a name that belong to her
laura de vermont (presente!)
was murdered
by men
by the state
and by our indifference
aged 18
on a saturday.

(Adelaide Ivánova, tr. Francisco Vilhena)

guerilla bitchcraft

(for maria felipa)

it is said that in the name of independence
maria felipa beat the shit out
of the portuguese with giant nettles

trying to save salvador
and other lands from the yoke
of white men

it was when they took their clothes off
believing they’d be fucking
that felipa set the caravels on fire

maria felipa would seduce like Librans do
(DISTRACT AND DESTROY) anticipating by 100 years
the tactics now known as black bloc

had cobain been alive certainly
that little refrain would have been meant for her
‘polly wants a cracker’

(that story of the girl who seduces
the torturer and unshackles herself then tells
the story to deaf ears

as is the case of maria felipa
whose act of guerrilla bitchcraft
is known and celebrated by few)

fast forward 100 years and it’s me beating the shit
out of you though not with the weed (yep that one)
to save myself from dread

your republic of deep fried coxinhas won’t
accept mine, of northeastern mortadella,
but perhaps zika will level us all

micro- or anencephalic, just you and i
left fucking, molotov cocktail
of darkness, fertilising with your sperm

all my captaincies until this era
is named for a southern city,
‘new middle ages’.

(Adelaide Ivánova, tr. Francisco Vilhena)

civil status

let them make amendments
god what do i care
and if you do care then go
start your revolutions
while you’re at it pack
my bags for me i just can’t
i’m too hungover put
my things in boxes for me
cast your votes of no confidence
or chastity vows it’s all the same
to me i don’t care

go on change the name in the contract
a name is only worth the ink you
spend on it: one millilitre
a piece of paper doesn’t change much
a life a house
comings and goings
the more you try to
erase my traces
the more you confirm
that i exist

you can argue by yourself for
the dishes the undeclared
taxes no one will heckle me anyway
when i leave through the front
door a hand behind me
the other smoking

i am only
impressed with this one thing:
it all finds a way life goes on
with or without a coup
with or without september seven
soon enough we will become used to it
now knowing if life does go on
without you that i
don’t know
but i won’t protest
i will get some sleep

(Adelaide Ivánova, tr. Francisco Vilhena)

“Fifty Days At Iliam. The Fire That Consumes All Before It”. Cy Twombly. 1978

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