They're holding umbrellas up
to keep the soft ash away

While they watch
their city burn down

Block by block
by block by block


Miguel said...

This is jut a divertissement, not quite in tune with the banality of disaster in your photo and text, and perhaps more obvious, but it may still be apt. (Note: it was rather hastily translated from the original, in Portuguese):

Around 1900

There are days for me
around 1900 when I’d like
a trade that demanded contraptions
on wheels and gears and pedals or
say a little stall or kiosk
with a painted sign in the middle of a square
even if light was already rather washed out
and people peering behind the doors
of shops nearby frightened me terribly. Around 1900
I’d like litters of vertical lintel and flowers
in black and white to grow on my back
but with nuances and tiny ladders
to climb up to my drums if I managed
to sell a couple of baskets or to jump
over myself or whomever wished
and find the best pose and the ideal bonnet
to sell umbrellas on a fine day
as the century turned and have that look
of the well-groomed drifter, and a moustache
that means business, and lots of buttons
of my jacket and be able to trade
normal flowers for weird ones around
1900 or so and in Paris. And that Atget
would walk by and ask to take my picture.
But I’d want to have a less gloomy air about me and
have a cobbler for a friend who would
do me a service now and then and
a more substantial daily prog and
piped water and a bit more time
to make advances on the mannequins
in shopwindows and a not so hunched gait

and be alive.



ECW said...

Thanks, Miguel. Is this your writing? The hunchback at the end is calling to mind Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit, which I haven't thought about in way too long...

(by the way, if it was you who put Emanuele in contact with me, many many thanks)

Miguel Cardoso said...

Hi Evan. I did write to Emanuele and told him he should read your blog, and so I guess indirectly I put him in contact with you. I had your recent epistolary posts about Rome in mind, but I was sure he'd enjoy your writing as a whole, as do I.
The poem above is indeed mine - just something I wrote after staring at Atget photos for a couple of hours.
I've come across references to Gaspard de la nuit in my readings of and on surrealism and Baudelaire, but have never actually read it.

I'm looking forward to your book on combined and uneven apocalypse, which I guess won't be long in coming.



P.S. I'm a Birkbeck grad student, by the way, under the supervision of Esther Leslie, although I've moved back to Lisbon where I'm trying to write the PhD thesis in exile, as it were, after a rather long interruption .