line drawings


in São Paulo

My night thoughts spider scuttle
to the web of thoughts,
to be forgotten in the halogenic daylight.
Pigeon heralds coo chromatic arches of the dawn,
and by the afternoon’s descent,
a gentle samba on a headland far away
calls in the rain.

Lightning flashes in the belly of the city sky,
deus irae in smoky yellow,
and castle clouds are falling
in plastotechnic raindrops
that merge and rise to build again
as solid as the world.


I reawaken.

The walls that once were painted by Sereia—
the marble halls beneath the sea,
have been defaced,
graffitied by a stranger’s hand,
and in the kitchen, I come across
a part-time stranger,
tossing potato salad.

Her eyes are speckled quail’s eggs.
She sees too much, she hears too much—
other’s sad goodbyes, unanswered lamentations,
dissonant harmonics on the wind
that long ago I chose to put aside.

Do not intromit yourself
into the affairs of others.

I have no place in your pathetic circus,
I’m just a summer memory,
cheap perfume on a pillow.

While the salad’s floating at its apogee
beneath the kitchen ceiling,
we inspect the bedroom walls.

It wasn’t me, you drew it in your sleep:
a child’s sea of lines and cusps,
tangential oscillations.

I compare the cursive mystery with
standard potato salad—
there are similarities and differences,
and I remember colored ink
hidden in chameleonic darkness,
re-visible, revisable.


In dusty academia, I teach the elements
of anti-grav potato salad theory
pro bono to a class of automated chefs.

But before the seasons turn,
those androids will be missing me,
wiping away their hydroelectric tears.

I’ll farewell this airless planet, fly by
salad-powered spacecraft to the moon,
and find the dreams and strangers
I’ve misplaced.


  • Deus irae: angry god,  a 1976 novel by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny.
  • Sereia (mermaid in Portuguese) appearing here. In Marisa Monte’s song Lenda das Sereias (Legend of the Mermaids) mermaids sing like this: lalaó, oquê, ialoá. Health Warning: do not listen while sailing close to rocky outcrops.
  • Serving on standards committees (in my case, serving means sleeping). The anti-grav potato salad standard is ISO00000:2017(dm) with dill and mayonnaise.

sea and cake (part above)


42 thoughts on “line drawings

    • Thank you BG. The intro is the way I see São Paulo, some compressed experiences. I love the imaginary moon, and I’d go, but the catch is that I know I’m one of the androids. 🚀 That, and some minor technical issues with anti-grav salads. 🐒

      Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely a shame, not to mention an electrocution hazard.⚡️Thanks, Frank. I had no idea where this piece was going; in the end it went to the moon and I couldn’t stop it. My inability to distinguish dreams from ideas is a bit of a drawback, although as long as I’m writing fantasy and not designing rocket propulsion systems, it’s probably okay. 🥗

      Liked by 3 people

    • It’s pretty straightforward. Anti-grav potato salad, although it sounds vaguely scientific, is fantasy, like wands and spells. But if I’d mentioned that someone added exotic matter to the dressing, which neutralizes quantum entanglement with gravitons, it would become science fiction, because any explanation, even implied, changes the genre to scifi. I hope that clarifies, Magarisa. If you’re still awake. 💤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the clear-as-mud clarification, Steve. Fantasy allows more freedom than science fiction, which should (theoretically) be based on science. Sometimes, however, the boundary between fantasy and sci-fi does become fuzzy. Oh yes, I’m very much awake (even without a caffeine boost)! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure. 😸 Yes, fantasy is unlimited, although in both fantasy and scifi the usual themes keep appearing. Scifi is not much different as long as I use my quantum teleportation wand to pull the rabbit out of the hat. 🤖

      Liked by 1 person

    • The same themes come up again and again because we (humans) find them the most relevant and interesting. Your quantum teleportation wand must be capable of performing more interesting tricks than pulling rabbits out of hats! 😁🐇🎩

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Trying to figure out how you manage to use a hypnotic voice, deceptively luring us to relaxation, yet the words are stabbing. Good writing is the answer, I’m sure! Listened to The Doors’ Riders on the Storm this morning and it has a similar feeling (calm music, horror words). Great post! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s the same way I put most of my students to sleep when I lecture. 😃 Thank you, Clarissa. I am interested in the sound of words, even technical ones. Bahian Portuguese is my favorite language: the rhythm and intonation. A Bahian woman might be holding a knife to your throat and asking for your wallet, and it will still sound so beautiful you’re happy to hand it over. If it’s empty at least. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. what can I say, Steve, your mind is like a planet with its own moons orbiting around the black hole in space. I can see you catching things that would normally get lost and forgotten as they are pulled into the black hole. You just might be one of the last chances we have on earth. You remind us of the splendid adventurous nature of our minds before they got filled with duty and logic and conforming and being grown up. What is the heck grown up anyway? Thank you, I will read it at least three more times :). p.s. don’t ever grow up It’s a beautiful quality

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Tamaya. 💙 I wish I could say I’m still that innocent child, but you know …. life, its slings and arrows, and once innocence is lost it’s irretrievable. I guess I try to remind myself when I write, and sometimes things appear from beyond the Schwarzschild Radius. 🌑

      When I was young I rebelled against everything, and I still have that non-conformist streak, but it isn’t necessarily a good thing. I try to be a bit wiser now and choose when to conform and when not. And sometimes the escape of fantasy, which was a blessing my childhood, can be dangerous as well, I try to be aware of that. I see things in shades now, not just black and white. Thank you again for your kind words. 😃


    • Thank you, RB. 🙂 Apart from quotidian talents like being able to find lost things between the cushions of the sofa, I do have one superpower. I already knew about it, but it came home to me one day when I was in a crowd of students at university. I overheard someone in front of me: “… I always fall asleep in his lectures …” I was thinking, please, please don’t let it be me. Then “Yeah, Simpson’s lectures do that to me as well.” Even in the front rows they doze off. I’m considering making recordings for insomniacs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awe this can’t be true and I’m sure they don’t even know what they are missing. I’m sorry and it seems it is somewhat of a concern and something that disappointed you at some point. I don’t blame you, but it’s also something you have come to terms with. I’m sure you know that we can never engage and please all and the right audience will always intently listen to what you have to share and not get enough of your words. I’m sure not all fall asleep and those who do, well, look at it on the bright side and remember how comfortable you make them feel to be able to relax like this. I’m sure you are nothing short of amazing. And if it makes you feel better, I often get that same feeling during the times when I have orientation and onboard new hires. Not everyone has a great attention span and some seem downright bored. It’s hard not to take it personal at times.
      Little unappreciative little rascals 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for thinking of me and sharing your experience. I agree completely about engagement, attention span and so on, and yes, there are students who are very attentive, although “amazing” might be a stretch. 😃 I think it’s my voice (so they’ve told me), and if you’re teaching, say, thermodynamics on a warm Friday afternoon in summer, the odds are stacked against you. I admit I have been concerned at times, particularly with general lack of attention in large classes, and I’ve tried to make the lectures more interesting. At least sleeping students usually don’t disturb anyone else, and I’ve had quite a bit of amusement waking them up on occasion. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome my friend and I know you care and would always want to give everything your best. You are committed and you care, but I’m sure those funny moments do make you smile, still today. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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