She’s putting on her armor just before the sun up,
with a snap of latches, and the buzz of her
electric screwdriver.
In the far field, stuttering unsteadiness,
in the near field, delicate slivers of glass.


He knows that he is not himself, someone else
inside authoritates the wine list
and whispers to the pillow:
a loquacious tropical parrot will emerge
and leave a chrysalis remainder.


Her connections with the casual are precise,
topics must adjoin to avoid a hint of truth—
the freshness of the café sweets; contraindications
of the weather; the flaws of other librarians.

Jemima compliments her armor, Is it new?
What, this old thing?

An observance, a liturgy, a list
with shells of smiles and secretions.


He tells himself that libraries are silent knowledge,
their airless glass and steel,
but unread pages written and forgotten
draw away his life to rows and indices.

The sorting shelves are sweeping him to a final moment
in an aisle between Philosophy and Rhetoric
when the parrot will escape,
leave one downy feather floating
before he fades to ghostliness,
left to haunt the residues of his life.


In stroboscopic flashes and shivers, clawing
at the sky, rending it,
helicopters and wind farms, telemetry
from the lost, close and closer still.

A child’s toy—a wooden train on a circular track,
a fence that has no wire, electrified,
razored stars hiding in
their throats,

Julieta Venegas and Lenine miedo (Portuguese/Spanish). I didn’t just translate the lyrics. Really.

marshes (part)

10 thoughts on “miedo

    • Thanks Laura. In fact I only came across the song because Julieta Venegas did a duet with my hero Marisa Monte on a recent album. Fear is such a personal thing. Once on an outback holiday with my daughter (six or so), we pulled off the road to admire the night sky–the milky way was a blaze of stars, and she was terrified.

  1. Powerful imagery evoking lots of emotions, including a slight touch of humor (I especially adore the “this old thing” re armor) 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback, I was in two minds after I wrote this, even with that line (thanks again for pointing it out). Fear is such a personal thing (not talking about aliens with death rays :mrgreen: ) to the extent that often a close friend can’t appreciate their companion’s debilitating fear. Anyway I’m glad I did.

  2. Miedo. You’ve touched a very deep place as always. “Topics must adjoin to avoid a hint of truth.” The message is sobering and liberating at the same time.

    • Thanks BG. It’s probably best to keep it light at the supermarket checkout 😉 but what we remember about people is rarely their view on whether the avocados were ripe. I was going to shelve this piece, but I suppose that’s what poetry is for.

    • I’ve found there are a few people I can have conversations with that really matter, others are abt the avocados. I like the whole spectrum. Glad you didn’t shelve it.

    • Thank you Vanessa. Also, you didn’t miss anything. These days I try not to ask myself why I did or didn’t do whatever. I suspect a special part of my brain is dedicated to doing something stupid at every opportunity. 🙂

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