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translated by Alexis Levitin

The Rio Gurupi delta in the Brazilian state of Maranhão. NASA (enhanced by rawpixel). CC BY 2.0

Consecration of the Wolves VIII

The tongue that traverses

the valley, yes,

where blood tells its tale,

where the wind breathes its breath.

The tongue of this kingdom,

that is where

we conjure up schemes,

and strip mirrors bare.

Oh, river of sugar and words,

Oh, oracle of parchment,

of tight drum skin—

I give you all my oceans

for your path. Go now. Begin!

An intricate weave

of epic verse takes reign

in the drum-beat thudding of our veins;

in replenishments of battle,

among secret sphinxes

among our names of choice:

instead of claws

we are armed with a voice.

Consecration of the Wolves X

Because everything larvas us

in our body and our lyre:

both moss and stone,

and the corporations of ire.

Because everything is manifest

in flames and orifice;

in the poem-valise

and its kingdom of hypotheses.

(Even though we dwell

in what passes through us…

or in a dream: a storm

within our shell).

For everything is in cahoots,

the frogs and the river they share;

and the subtle stain

of blood on crystal ware.

What time brings us

has no family name,

just the flower of the tongue

licking its shame.


Salgado Maranhão, winner of all of Brazil's major poetry awards, has toured the United States five times, presenting his work at over one hundred colleges and universities. In addition to fourteen books of poetry, he has written song lyrics and made recordings with some of Brazil’s leading jazz and pop musicians. Four collections of his work have appeared in English: Blood of the Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2012), Tiger Fur (White Pine Press, 2015), Palavora (Dialogos Books, 2019) and Mapping the Tribe (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). A fifth collection, Consecration of the Wolves, is coming out from Bitter Oleander Press in 2021, additional poems of which will appear in the next print issue of Puerto del Sol. His poem “The Old Indian” appeared in a special on the Amazon in The New York Times on Oct. 4th.

Translator Alexis Levitin has published forty-six books in translation, mostly poetry from Portugal, Brazil, and Ecuador. In addition to four books by Salgado Maranhão, his work includes Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugénio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words, both from New Directions. He has served as a Fulbright Lecturer at the Universities of Oporto and Coimbra, Portugal, The Catholic University in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in Brazil and has held translation residencies at the Banff Center, Canada, The European Translators Collegium in Straelen, Germany (twice), and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.


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