in response to my first poem



The wind sprang at four o'clock.

The chorus, in gray, dots a spring
with the fresh liveliness of growth.
	sunken, is now that lipped light
— a wish
for a warmth
yet unexplored.

To look back is also that.

You'd see things only
as they moved. Elements
with immense breadth
precipitated idiocy and honesty
     as differing 
	only then.

You were never known
for the subtlety of your oppression.


You’d listen — quietly — for Silve-
strov. He, quieter still. Stille Musik had 
another density entirely. You’d mistake it
for death, and the science of such. An
oceanic monstrosity, an ague of
a many-eyed god or godthing. Not
the convivial beingness
which life consigns to mythology. 

‘cognition persists’, you’d write,
‘above and below itself’, and sleep,
‘the music of languid fields’, and night,
an incubating interiority which unfolds
as sleep, and so inward, when inwardness
was burning tinsel; the ballast of
an immovable sea. 

That, and every-
thing else,
you’d welcome. 

Suffering — among many other things —
is the measure of that which feels. You
will fight much yet
with that sublimating dimension.

You will be brought many more times yet
to the portal of your own tribunal, and
as a spate of you articulates 
    what can only be described as trauma
through a desolate assay,
  your hands, still lucid, will scutter
in anticipation of mourning. 

You will be brought many more times yet
to the dawn of abuse; bear the friction
of bending your bones to the performance
of this perpetual shock; even 
shock of shock. You will inflect
as every discovery of selfness
points to the cruelty
of your design. 

You will cry, and
as it did then,
it will feel the least
like effective crying. 

Stille Musik, he called it,
to look back is also that. 


you emerged, at a deep-set evening, as mockery. 
all of you mirrored, heterotopic, the tame and frail 
of words and

you were, in your lostness, for whom the bell tolled,
and the stress of your temporality settled in your forehead
as a sign of capture
and a sign of servitude

and when
 the skysoaked dusk, transfigured as if punched
    by a horde of grieving men, sprang upon you,
then, you got the taste
of your pet terror. 

you wrote, as lightly as one may,
‘you shall ask for your place
in all of this, and you will learn only
to give yourself up.’

you will be eroded; you will feel
the silent spring of your consumption,
because to look back is also that. 

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

19 thoughts on “in response to my first poem

    1. I wrote it on top of one of my first poems ever. I suppose it has as much from that time as it does from this one, but it’s mostly the expression of understanding that time through this one.
      I’m glad it was somehow captivating. If you’ve never done it, you should give this form a shot, Owen. Take the oldest poem you have and respond to it. How much of it can one conserve?


  1. “You shall ask for your place in all of this, and you will learn only to give yourself up.” As always, João-Maria, your poetry sends shivers down my spine and brings me to the verge of tears with introspection. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Originally written as
      “Perguntarás pelo teu lugar
      nisto tudo, e saberás apenas
      desistir-te.”, when I was 16, if I’m not mistaken. Strange that such a feeling can carry over.
      Thank YOU for reading, Keegan.


      1. Portuguese is such an expressive language. I would love to be able to read it. It is amazing the insight into life a 16-year-old has. I’ve read some of my stuff from back then, and, even as naive as I was, I was very observant and introspective.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow! I don’t know what’s going on Joao? I understand this, if understand is the right word. And I don’t understand what’s going on. I love this!

    Just recently, I started thinking about you and started wondering what you were up to.

    So, wow, thanks for this poem.

    Your website algorithms are complicated so it’s anybody’s guess if this gets through. I’m going to be asked to log into my WordPress account and it’s going to look like I never sent this message and . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, it got through, David!
      A dear friend I’ve shown this poem to also found it oddly accessible, so I suppose you’re not alone in that sentiment.
      Are you okay? I also often wonder, but I can never get through to you. It seems like you aren’t notified whenever I respond to your comments!


      1. I’m very sorry to discover that my replies run afoul of technology. I tried to reply to you on the WordPress app, but couldn’t. This is coming through Safari.
        I’m doing great. I’m still writing poetry, often in bars while drinking coffee, which raises eyebrows. But you can get away with almost anything in a bar as long as you don’t start fights and people usually don’t get into fights about writing poems. I don’t post poetry anymore because I discovered that publishers want the right of first publication, and they consider social media publication. Maybe we could exchange emails if technology is getting problematic. I think we did that a while ago. I guess the important thing about me is I’m not dead yet and am not planning on it, any time soon.
        Again, so great to read this poem of yours, and to hear from you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is incredible poesy here. I feel how she smells on the light wind between ages. As an Ukrainian, which lives in the same city as Silvestrov, I have own something inside resonating inside me to your text as early Spring foliage does on the warm wind. Many thanks for that beautiful hello of never-dying poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s curious, I don’t know what drew me to Silvestrov so much when I was an adolescent. It’s odd to think of the situation Ukraine is in today because I’ve always been so randomly close to it. To its art, and to its people. I grew up in a house with two other Ukrainian children, after all.
      How the ages go through us as if we were porous, with that, I sometimes struggle. I’m glad you thought it was incredible. It’s been so long since I have written anything at all…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I ran into that also, solving it by hand typing each poem into a notepad on my device, then copying and pasting the result into the post. Comes out like yours, but with be there lettering. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

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