(Droplet) jorge

At the precise moment in which the irreducible tongue of the sun recoiled and became an irregular line trodden by the tremulant eucalyptus leaves, Jorge Guerra first felt the dense phenomenon of solitude so characteristic of birth. His father, António Medes Guerra, was a reputed dipsomaniac of jagged features, of which his black beard was most characteristic, as it felt strangely luminous and always sodden. His drunken paroxysms were so persistent, he saw his position as a bricklayer in the construction of the train-station of Vale do Peso quickly foreshortened.

In fact, just that very night, António is said to have borrowed a Browning shotgun from a cousin, crouched behind some brambles near a hillock by the village entry, awaited until that very tongue of sunlight was besprent upon the hills, and charged at his foreman, José Lobo Branco, in an attempt to intimidate him into the restoration of his job. António, however, did not learn to operate the firearm, and José struck him with a skiving shovel, for which he had to be hospitalised, in a room curiously near to that where his son was just born, although, almost seemingly by some divine order, they did not meet each-other that night.

His mother, Christina Guerra, was of Galician origin, and although she moved to Castelo de Vide at an early age, she knew enough of the mossy pathways of Santiago to feel morriña, the most Galician sentiment of all, which only intensified whenever António would come home, choleric and crapulous, a vile monument of her profound weakness, a vile monument of her profound strength. Jorge, too, would often be beaten by the casuistry of his mere existence, since the anger of António was a dark puddle without perceptible depth; a trap designed to never be evaded. Luckily for Christina and Jorge, however, António died of tuberculosis just shy of two weeks after Jorge celebrated — under the lashing belt — his fifth birthday. His death lunged them both into a state of indigence not too unlike that which they had lived thus far, but, to them, it still felt like an unimaginable relief.

Train-station in Vale do Peso, Crato, Portugal

Jorge’s luck, and, concomitantly, his salvation, was Christina’s second marriage: Ernesto da Gama, a literate tradesman from Penacova who, besides abounding in benevolence, had an unabated love for his adopted son and insisted unstintingly on his education. Ernesto was also instrumental in introducing Jorge to a litany of ultra-romantic poets, the likes of Soares de Passos, João de Deus and Garret; and nothing enraptured his thoughts quite as feverishly as poetry. Jorge, by 1916, was successfully formed in the basic faculties and was allowed the opportunity of further formation in the University of Coimbra, in the fields of Law, which, at the time, was the only course with veritable applications outside of Academia; but the pylons of his passions, what moved him beyond his blue, bruised core, was the sprawling and lucid poetry that spawned at his lips and blossomed at the very borders of his cognition; what provided his spiritual existence was his sharp, bucolic soul, sprouted from cycles of tears and condensation, and culled by that jittering blade of sunlight which withdrew when he come-to-be.

In the dawn of 18 of August of 1919, Ernesto was caught in a blaze of massive proportions near Sintra, while returning from an excursion to Lisbon. Though his calcined remains were never returned to Penacova, Jorge insisted on the search; to such purpose, he voyaged to Lisbon the next week, with the intention of only a small interregnum in his studies. Still quite hoverish, as if held by a tight thread, which is common of those whose pain failed to materialise fully and is still but a shade darting below the pond, he was entirely oblivious of the fact that he’d never return to Coimbra, nor would he spend much in search of Ernesto’s cadaver, since Christina, now entirely sclerotic and paralysed in a bout of deep depressions, found it beyond her will to even drink a cup of water on her own. It was then, during the large stretch of years in which he took to her bedside, that he produced «Condolência», the prime and lone book of his authorship.

Mãe, first poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea
Uma Mente Aproveitada, fifth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea
Não, eighth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Geminea

«Condolência», produced over nearly two decades, seems to cover, in its essence, only two discernible cycles of Guerra’s poetic production: an early, plaintive and ruminating, gleaming with substance and sentimental contamination, named Geminea, and a later, lighter cycle punctured with a levitous, ponderative and pastoral demeanor, named Botania. Their transition of one onto the other, after careful geometries and chronometries were established, seems to have been spun from the event of the departure of his mother to Galicia, a desire she could never quite shake after her recovery from prolonged cataplexy. Jorge accompanied his mother for a short while, in her village of Taboada, near the magnificent natural wonder of Castro Candaz; in this mythical castle, whose sub-aquatic habitation only allowed it a glimpse of breath whenever the rainfall diminished for long enough, Jorge saw himself reflected. He felt as if life never gave him enough dry periods in order for his deserved flourishing. During these months in Galicia, he wrote some of his most impressed bucolic pieces.

Camphora, fifteenth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania
Catalina, nineteeth poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania
Encaixado, thirty-first poem from Condolência, Chapter of “Botania

In 1921, Christina passed away from a fulminant breast cancer that had annihilated her in the shorter tail of three months and about which little was known at the time, and Jorge, now wholesomely and inexorably alone, decided to return to Vale do Peso. By then, he weighed so little, it felt as if he was a waning vessel, a foundered boat. His phlegmatic disposition, now coupled with his physical macilency, far transgressed any sense of emotive numbness; he simply had no more of himself in this realm, he felt as if objects could not contain the poverty of his sight; furthermore, they were negated by it. He was a walking, consuming force, a space being reclaimed from within, long tired of its own unworthy, fruitless occupation. For a good count of three hours, he sat and looked at the steams fume and flit, one here, one there, in the train-station that brought about the fateful night of his making. For a while, he wondered how many different tones of self-enamouration he could count; how many of them were destructive; how many of them only came about when it truly rained as never before, an authentic deluge of being, of nothingness. For a while, he pondered on the inevitable, before realising that such, when it matters, is nearly always the case, nearly always inevitable.

Jorge’s book was never published.

Disclaimer: Jorge is, of course, entirely fictive, as is apparent. Why I felt compelled to generate an entire mini-fiction regarding a mysteriously unfortunate Portuguese poet from the beginning of the 20th century is as beyond me as it is beyond you. I’m not in a deep state of sanity, these days. Regardless of any particular intention, I found the small path of Jorge quite interesting, and I regard him as an example of what might have happened to many, invariably, since the story is itself composed of some reality. The locations are real; so are the poets accited, the dates and events (including the fire in Sintra), and many elements were inspired by stories I’m privy to. I was also heavily inspired to do this from recently having read Sebald’s “The Emigrants”, though I differ greatly from his (invariably superior) approach.

I hope you liked the read, though since I tend not to post fiction, you might have not,
and I’m sorry if you haven’t!,
a glorious weekend to you all,

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

46 thoughts on “(Droplet) jorge

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Suzette. By now, one would think I’d learn to write in a lighter manner, alas, I still make everyone work arduously!
      I’m happier, even, that I have the certainty that no one leaves my text with less knowledge than that with which they started, and with all the political miasma that throngs literature nowadays, that aspect is something I’m proud of. I’m also proud of being read by you, Suzette; as I say, you are always impossibly kind.


    1. Thank you, Chelsea!, that’s praise of highest magnitude, as I love all the work of Marquez, which I had the pleasure to read in Spanish. To which degree he influenced my prose, I do not know, but I’m overjoyed that my writing might remind someone of his brilliancy regardless.


  1. Joao-Maria, this is somebody’s story. You’ve been chosen to tell it. Didn’t you say before you have/had an uncle who was a poet? Who is the man in the first picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not quite sure, Ms. Jade, but it certainly isn’t too far off some of the stories I’ve come to know and grew up with. The picture, curiously, is of a shaky origin, since my mother claims it to be from her grandfather (my maternal great-grandfather), but my grandmother herself does not remember the picture. We are dubious as to why, but she has a traumatic relationship with his memory, since she was the one that found him, as a teenager, when he hanged himself.
      Speaking as openly as I do, it nearly seems as everything about my family is tragic, which isn’t quite the case; stories of suicides and alcoholism are very frequent in our rural area, since its known for the cultivation of wine grapes.
      Regardless, I’m not entirely sure who is in the picture, but there is a high chance it is my great-grandfather; I just really like it, and since no one else was too interested, I was the one that kept it, and decided to give it my own fabricated story to match.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I, for one, liked reading this so much that I read it thrice –
    the dearth of João-Maria fiction being both unsatisfactory & sad.

    ‘until that very tongue of sunlight was besprent’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One would be keen to believing that the absence of my fiction was, and is, a crime against humanity for which there are no precedents.
      Thanks, Nick. If you like my stuff, then, I might have some hopes for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, how I agree. If words cannot grip us, our thoughts certainly will. In fact, words are the phalanxes keeping them at bay, I find.
        Thank you, mysterious Anna, for always being so kind.


      1. Thank you for saying! My analytics refuse to operate for me, so I appreciate you letting me know you listened and liked. Gonna do some new recordings soon. Will post here as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Curiously, that’s all I did have when I started. His poems were the first things I wrote, and I more-or-less shaped the rest of his existence around them. I always knew, however, that he wouldn’t be published, simply because I wanted that to be the absolute punctuation of the cruelty he was cursed with; it wasn’t that he suffered, but that he suffered for naught, or simply for none to see; thus, an embodiment of silence, which is the adage of the last poem.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post. The prose is spellbinding, as is, naturally, the poetry. I was wondering, J-M, if you got my poem about you that was posted on Twitter. If not, I will send it to you privately. Be well!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Best thing I’ve read in blogland in ages. Inventive and wonderful language. I hope your sanity returns to you, but at the same time, I think sanity is overrated and the lack thereof is perhaps where the true beauty of language may come from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thanks, Trent. I do genuinely struggle with some off-and-on psychosis, and I don’t always… come across, if that makes sense. And I can’t always detect when I’m not coming across.
      But being mildly rivetless does give some colour to my words.
      And thanks again, Trent! Means a lot coming from a seasoned writer like you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was sort of attracted to the proliferation of deaths, João-Maria! I meant your fiction was “true” in the sense that The Ugly Ducking is true. It annoys me when people say “There’s non-fiction which is true and there’s fiction which is not true.” I acted as a school librarian for quite a few years and I have heard a thousand teachers telling their students just that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m only inspired by true things, which does sadden me at times. I can’t be a Lovecraftian mythos author, or write another Middle-earth or some fancy sci-fi YA novel. I’m very chained to whatever is, what is perceptible and, as you say, true. It seems to be a waning side of literature, though. I’m glad you enjoy it!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ryan. I see you as a creator with illimitable talents, and it means, truly, quite a lot, that you’d take the time to read me. Especially when I indulge in these longer forms.
      Morriña is a Galician word that means “homesickness”; both Galician and Portuguese have the famous, hardly-translatable “saudade”, but only Galician has morriña, and the history surrounding it follows similar lines. Many Galician folks of earlier ages migrated towards both Portuguese and Spanish urban centers, while the Portuguese, for instance, only started voluminous waves of exodus towards the 20th century. While the Portuguese developed “saudade” from the period of maritime discoveries, the Galicians developed “morriña”, concomitantly, from missing not each-other or their communities, but their homes, their places of birth. And if you’ve ever been to Galicia, you’d know there is so much to be missed. Too much, even.
      Again, thanks, Ryan. It means a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure you’ll adore the experience. And hop by Portugal, if you’re ever in the mood to do so! We’re also quite interesting.
        Well, Galicia and Northern Portugal are practically indistinguishable.


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