Sérgio Alcides

Translated from the Portuguese by Robert Smith


Low tide. The pier leans out over nothing
but residues that come to rest on the beach,
memories of the sea, sand raked
by the footprints of fleeing waters, a flute
blowing upside down into our lungs
distance as a concert of absent
sounds, the gale’s renunciation, filthy
foam abandoned like old property,
algae and shells among the plastic bottle ruins,
wasted messages, the lost planks
of sea vessels and the despair of nails
in rust and salt, fish drowned in the disposable
air like the empty plastic cups and,
laterally, the crab strolls among
advertising fragments and mad price tags.
The pier accuses the horizon. Hanging in a corner,
the moon dimly pierces the marine-morning blue.

                               Quinta Pitanga, Itaparica, January 13, 2004

Black Continent

Rotation. The pier goes in and out of the bay
that is of All Saints. That belongs
to the warm curve, the frizzy water
of navigable solitude like the dorsal fin
of the beast full of fear or
what of him was emptied completely.
That pulses inside the gulf,
in its windless absence, from which it overflows
without spilling. That spins in the beach
and dirties the white port of the moon
with sand, crouched into the new
beginning of the world. That will sleep far
and wake up late over the traces
extended in the aura of its waiting.
Sad Bahia, oh, how changed:
turgid cradle, marine fog, and burial mound,
where effort is born and dies,
full wave, wave in pieces,
wave that changes firmaments.
Your darkness continues inviolate,
the other side of your constellation, your calm
preparing the bath of the stars
pried loose with the lightness of light-years,
your mud that sinks beneath the blade
that slowly dresses shipwrecks,
your weariness of abandonment and your blessing
when the set aside sun takes its leave
raising the body it salted in your skin.

Sérgio Alcides was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1967. He is a journalist, historian, literary critic, editor, translator, Professor of Letters at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and author of three collections of poetry, of which the most recent is Pier (Editora 34, 2012). His poetry has been translated into English, Spanish, and Catalan.

Robert Smith holds a B.A. in English and Italian from Indiana University. In 2014, he was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Northeast of Brazil.

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