From Portuguese Heritage Publications of California

Expanded English-Portuguese bilingual edition



by Vasco Pereira da Costa

Translated by Katharine F. Baker and Diniz Borges


Excerpts from English translations

[Read also the original Portuguese excerpts]

In Gustine, at the Feast of Our Lady of Miracles of Serreta

The labial u the contracted vowel

a dropping of final syllables

dialect untouched in poetic prose

reminiscent of the islands’ wordgusts...


He inherited Africa in his skin and looks,

and when we saw him play soccer in high school,

we began calling him

our Matateu...


In the Lung Wah restaurant with Manuel Homem

Your father talked with my father.

Life ran in a straight line.

Until just like your father and my father

We celebrated our first wine...

  My cousin Manuel

My cousin Manuel from Prainha do Pico

lives in San Jose. He works in drywall.

Unlike his father he didn’t want albacore or bonito:

he labors under the California sun – from sun to sun...

The fisherman of San Diego

He brought eyes of the ocean weeping

from another sea’s black mountain

Pico’s ashes, mists from its stone-walled pastures

the salt – soul of the waters he furrowed...

  A bourbon with Tony Goulart

The men of Pico

embark upon the land

plow the sea...

Abel Alves

So he speaks Altares-style

the sounds of his speech – with trunk and root.

He says ilhas in a way no longer spoken on the island...

  Diniz, the Portuguese Teacher

In his faraway language the greatest saudade

in the word saudade is the living language.

Not the little saudade of folklore

attractive and palatable...

Steven Borges in the Portuguese Band

...besides at high school Steven

also plays in Portuguese, in the community band

white trousers white cap blue blazer

in consanguine step with the saudade

of the Borgeses...

  Hélio Beirão

He rests upon his knee the woman

smooth and voluptuous guitar. Eighth-notes

of rounded verse from charambas

chamarritas pezinhos sapateias...

Sonnet to Onésimo (with an asterisk)

...this heart of yours is a voyager

unquiet wanderer and vagabond

that wants in your eyes an unharmed world

and unharmed the peoples of this world...

  A question for Álamo Oliveira

Álamo, how is the soul of Raminho

spread out along the Pacific coast

a freeway is it a route

into which your side road flows...

Conversing with João de Melo

We see the houses the cars the suits the dresses

we know the sweat the factories the machinery the cattle

we guess the meaning of life the feelings

of a saudade that throbs and at times kills...

  Rose was Rosa’s name

Mother said no more

no more I no more you daughter

no more names in the rocks of the wharf

no more the island’s curtain...

Queen Nancy

Lord Holy Ghost of Whom I am a Brother

of Your Fraternity at Desterro. Bless

the abundance of the Californias – the meat the wine the bread

offered in the name of Your Trinity in the person

of this Queen of Atlantic festivities...

  Artesia’s patron

I know that times have changed Queen Isabel

And that California is the land of plenty

Of roses and oranges and suns of honey

Your prodigies of saint may not seem useful...


Salute to John Steinbeck

California – East of Eden

from my left side

European and rural...

  Be sure

Fairmont Hotel San Francisco.

in the bar swing, blues and jazz

daiquiris and Bloody Marys. It is clear

that a time is past and a memory fading...

The gods of Yosemite

The day the night the dawn exist

in Yosemite: time that is measured

with a compass. And there is the timeless Time

of the Gods who make their home here...

  The man from Pico whom I ran into in Gilroy

When your boat reached the wharf

you came to my house. I filled your glass with wine,

tore off some bread, sliced some cheese, set out fruit...

  Native ode

Peoples of the pallid memories of this time

Tribes of your old world, out of focus in the recollection

of a faded movie-frame of a film, with an intermission

for cherry brandy, codfish pastry, sunflower seeds

slack idleness on insulated Saturdays...


My Californian Friends: Poetry, by Vasco Pereira da Costa

From the Colecção Décima Ilha (Tenth Island Collection)

Portuguese Heritage Publications of California

P.O. Box 32517, San Jose, California 95152

ISBN 978-0-9789994-7-6 / Library of Congress Catalog Number 2009925325


Click here to order My Californian Friends now.


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