Three Poems by Francisco Alvim

BOMB 102 Winter 2008
102 Winter 2008 Body
​Francisco Alvim

Francisco Alvim, 1997.

Antonio Sergio Bessa Did the search for a new subjectivity lead you to the “other”? You mentioned your readings of Eliot and Pound, and as you know, a major part of their poetry is a kind of collage of other poems and voices. Is that what attracted you to their work?

Francisco Alvim No doubt. What I found in Eliot and Pound was a voice coming from a new, crushed subjectivity, which had already emerged, splendidly and movingly, in Baudelaire. My feeling is that, in our time, this subjectivity became manifest in poetry in two ways: via material things, of the thing-thing and the word-thing, and via man. “Via” here is meant as channel, as in voice, or speech, and of course writing. Via man, it became pluralistic and fragmented, because today man is a being without individuality, and the world, a reality imploded into a thousand fragments. Thus the shrapnel of voice, voice which is also, above all, a desperate attempt—inexorably failed—to hear itself and the other’s voice.

Three poems by poet and diplomat Francisco Alvim from Elefante, translated by interviewer Antonio Sergio Bessa.


for Cacaso

Sometimes the gaze follows
the network of light
without any curiosity
any illusion
It goes on in search of time
and time, as always,
emptied of everything
is not far
is here, now
The gaze with no memory
without destiny
in the air of air
in the light of light—


for Carlos Drummond de Andrade

There are many shadows in the world
They blow in the clouds
and in the air they
glitter solitary like topazes—
drops of dimmed light
The stars blow wind
Shadows are the wind of stars
At the bottom of waters trapped
in ponds and dams
there is a wind of waters—
In the sea
they refract submersed
amidst forests of algae—
shadows of emerged shadows
They are made—the shadows—of dark
They remember all and nil
The flight of shadows
spins around a sonorous
column, the poem—
light from inside




In the platform above


Between the legs
on the floor
the groceries in a plastic bag


Far from verse, almost prose
No guts
for the always venturesome—
while they last—
flights of passion


Far so far

from humor from irony

from the polymorph voices


tattered in the tongue’s



Where ground is ground

legs, legs

things, things

and the word, none

There, only the refraction

of an idea

of a thought exhausted

of movement


Between two roads

two harbors

(two lagoons)

two illnesses


Sublime virtues of chance

why not take me

from inside

and protect me from the cold outside

from the incessant, unbearable flight of plot?

from choosing?

Excerpt from Nine Nights by Bernardo Carvalho
​Bernardo Carvalho
Excerpt from Nine Nights by Bernardo Carvalho
​Bernardo Carvalho

This is for when you get here. You have to be prepared. Somebody has to warn you.

Fernando Pessoa by Robert Polito
65 Fernando Pessoa 1 Body

Only a few years ago Fernando Pessoa was all but invisible in English. Now this outsider’s outsider looms as the latest icon of modern poetry.

One Poem by Martín Gambarotta
Hugh Scott-Douglas

One point: / it came from that way and goes this way / the lukewarm thought

Originally published in

BOMB 102, Winter 2008

Featuring interviews with the Campana Brothers, Cao Guimaraes and Marila Dardot, Ernesto Neto, OsGemeos, Bernardo Carvalho, Francisco Alvim, Lygia Fagundes Telles and Manuel Alegre, Karim Ainouz, Arnaldo Antunes, and Paulo Mendes Da Rocha.

Read the issue
102 Winter 2008 Body