Issue > Poetry
João Luís Barreto Guimarães translated by Calvin Olsen

João Luís Barreto Guimarães translated by Calvin Olsen

João Luís Barreto Guimarães is a reconstructive surgeon and author of ten poetry books, including Mediterrâneo (Mediterranean, 2016)—which won the António Ramos Rosa National Award for best poetry book in 2017—and Nómada (Nomad, 2018)—a 2019 Livraria Bertrand Book of the Year. His anthology of one hundred collected poems, O Tempo Avança por Sílabas (Time Advances by Syllables), was published early this year.

Calvin Olsen holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, where he received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. His poetry and translations have recently appeared in AGNI, Asymptote, Tampa Review, Chattahoochee Review, The London Magazine, and others. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC, where he is the poetry editor for The Carolina Quarterly. More of his work can be found at calvin-olsen.com

Mediterranean Song

We've already
seen it all tried it all heard it all
(Pindar's odes to Victory
extraordinary olive oil and wine) on
the slopes where Zephyrus sends a mist-filled  
frigid odor to raised sails
from the west. Behold the acropolis of Lindos (which
the gods abandoned) a
temple Phidias treasured and a place time
still fits in the sculpted work
of a master. Now is the time to let it be
the sea who touches us (the
primitive internal sea
the primordial broth)
torn yesterday by rowing from Phoenicia
to Carthage. This is the sea of Ulysses (the
one which Xerxes flogged) a sea never
in the past
(for the past is present) where
time passes slowly for it passes standing still—
like cats in the ruins (killing
time
with time) pummeling with their tails imaginary
enemies.

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