Three “Nomad” Poems Translated from the Portuguese by António Ladeira and Calvin Olsen

Waiting room

to Marco Mackaaij

knowledge of all things (when well organized)
fits in the tight space of a
vault. It’s no small feat
(Newton’s mechanics
Riemannian geometry) all
added to a suitcase that won’t close
not even with the weight
of reason (Maxwell’s symmetry
Feynman’s quanta) things
as imperative as a theory
of everything.
There’s almost no space in this curious sponge for
the reason Cayetano Ordoñez betrayed
Paloma Castillo with a certain
Mercedes Ortiz. But
my appointment –
it was pushed back.

The things that wander lost

things that wander lost have escaped
our control (for half an hour
a couple of days
your whole life). They have a life of their own (these
things) they refused
to accept the excess we’d come to present them –
like the lost friends who have fled
our control (for half an hour
a couple of days
your whole life). The things we found on the ground
are things
lost by others –
time itself will ensure their passage is erased
(the footprints in the entryway
fingers on top of the table
love out to dry
on the sheets). Those friends who wander lost
really should come back already
like one of those broken branches you throw for a dog
not like a beach pebble that is launched
and then stays there.

Those who come in second

The winner’s
cup lies forgotten in a corner.
No one cares about it anymore. There’s no higher image
of abandonment and loss than
the one given by time (a patina of dust and
oxidized glory
which memory bundled up
in a scarf of
rust). I
prefer the defeated. How they force themselves to watch
the fireworks of victory
(returning to their future with eyes
replete with tears) I appreciate
the dignity with which they lay down their arms
(their world is one of constantly
coming in second)
I like those who have bad luck
those who have almost succeeded –
today I feel like one of them.

Photo Credit: Espresso with newspaper and journal, 2020. Oil on canvas over panel by Anthony Ulinski

About the Translators 

António Ladeira

Born in Portugal, currently living in Lubbock, USA, as an Associate Professor of Portuguese and Spanish at Texas Tech University. He holds a Licenciatura degree in Portuguese Studies from Nova University in Lisbon, and a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California in Santa Barbara. He taught at Middlebury College and Yale University and he was a visiting researcher at the Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil. He has published five volumes of his own poetry in Portugal and two books of short stories in Portugal, Brazil, and Colombia. He is also a lyricist for Jazz singer Stacey Kent.

Calvin Olsen 

An internationally-published poet and translator. He holds an MA in English & Comparative Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. He has taught English, composition, creative writing, and comparative literature at Boston University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Bunker Hill Community College. He is currently an optician and social media manager in addition to his work as a freelance copywriter and editor. Calvin’s work has appeared in AGNI, Tampa Review, The Baltimore Review, International Poetry Review, The London Magazine, and many others. A former Robert Pinsky Global Fellow and recent Pushcart Prize nominee, Calvin now lives in Chapel Hill, NC, where he is poetry editor for The Carolina Quarterly.

About the author

Born in Porto, Portugal where he studied Medicine. He is a poet and a breast reconstructive surgeon. As a writer, he is the author of 10 poetry books since 1989. His collection, “The Mediterranean” (“Mediterrâneo”, Lisbon, Quetzal, 2016) was chosen as National Award António Ramos Rosa 2017 for best poetry book edited in Portugal in 2016. It was published in Spain, France, Poland, and Italy where it was a finalist of Camaiori International Prize 2018. “Nomad” (“Nómada”, Lisbon, Quetzal, 2018) was chosen as Best Poetry Book Bertrand Award 2018, published also in Italy. His forthcoming collection, “Movement” (“Movimento”, Lisbon, Quetzal) will be out in September 2020. He has read at literary festivals in Spain, Italy, México, Croatia, Germany and the USA. His poems and their translations to English have appeared in International Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The London Magazine, Salamander, Anima, Asymptote, The Chaattahoochee.

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