Tiago Patríco

–Translated from the Portuguese by Ana Hudson



Those yellow-foot seagulls above Lisbon
choose the most favourable flight path
to respond to the tides’ movements
and to over-swim the spaces filled
with the liturgical echoes of labour

They treat the places like equinoxes
as they wait on the quay for the columns
and for the mullets jumping from the boats
that break out from the wind ballast

And by night, the yellow-foot seagulls
are royally free
seducing the hills with their beaks
and transgressing the clean name of the city

They quack and confront the nasal sounding places
and ask awkward questions
exceeding all permitted areas
and insulting the stone’s immobility

They discourse on dodgy roofs
and throw laughter like hisses
confounding the streets’ features while
accepting enticement likes promises

And the city takes time to recover
as it seeks sensible answers
for the swift devastation lying underneath
the uncompromised seagulls’ feet



They wake up with dithyrambs
and lean their bellies against hallucinated
windows and know
they can make
the right words fly
just before the compulsive
crying session

At breakfast
they stand on tables
with their fully patented leather shoes
and jump up like fish
throwing ropes around the neck
of whoever is nearest
and write with the urgency
of those who inspire compassion
close to rejection

There are some who start by explaining
their poems and write theses
mistaken for literature
wrapped up in an old newspaper
several notches better
than the absent place of poetry

And the most reserved ones
who wake up in the afternoon
and start to describe
extreme positions while
repeatedly showing the palms of their hands
– Can you see the future, the future
is in my hands

They always want to take the floor
and then apologise for it
but they carry their words through rooms
and corridors till they smother
all despairing places

And the staff full of intensive
care look after the poets’
clothes and internal hygiene
smoothing wrinkles and imperfections
out of the most exposed verse
resolving any formal obstruction
and whispering clean words in their ears

They expurgate the useless spots
open the bedroom doors
blow out the candles if the poets go to sleep
with their heads leaning on pictures
or on other incandescent ideas
and take note of the poets’ words
during their agitated rest
with their shoes still on

Some bipolar poets gather
at night in the most individual way
and sweat in their own tedium
on the narrow balconies of their rooms
while others go down to the cellars
of the buildings to spy
on the flexible muscles
which support the cultural constructions
in which they find genuine inspiration
full of an inner all embracing sparkle
as if it were a type of underground
eagle ready to lift its wings

And then they go on digging
eyes half-closed in the dark
devoted to a guaranteed-profit plan
till they reach a poetry without language
or connection with the word


TIAGO PATRICIO was born in Funchal, Madeira, in 1979 and trained as a pharmacologist. He lives and works in Lisbon. He also writes fiction, plays and songs. Poetry books since 2000: O Livro das Aves (2009), Letters From Prague (2010), A Memória das Aves (2012)

ANA HUDSON is a recognized translator of poetry from Portuguese. She runs the website Poems from the Portuguese.