Fernando Pessoa, I Salute You All!
I want to take off with you, I want to go away with you, with all of you at once.
Let’s pinkie promise never to part
ourselves out just because we know what it means
to be many-ed as a hotel corridor.
Each chamber of our hearts
contains a different guest,
and as the case may be, Fernando, Fernando,
it’s hard to say who you are
when everywhere there’s evidence of someone else’s
aftershave, someone’s cigarette left burning
in the ashtray in another wing of you.
Nonetheless, you’re my favorite octopod
and I’d run away with you, Baby.
We could be in Sicily by Sunday
some of ourselves wandering the city
before that early light gets all used up.
Others of us sleeping in or fingerprinting
the crowd which is just you and me, which is
just fine, since I’m aware that you’re aware
that mankind’s just another way of saying: there’s nobody home.
You’ll know what I mean when I tell you that I’ve been known
to find myself on a metro train inside myself where one
or the other of me has already taken the last seat
and this ride, yet again, I stand, holding the strappy
thing that makes me feel like a side of beef hanging heavy
and jostled from the walls while my city, my city, smears
the side windows and I’m just trying to stay upright.
The train is preferable to a crowd
of us packed into my little vehicle of catastrophe.
If one of us drives too fast in the rain
how many of us slide into oblivion?
You’re all about the static, the stations between stations. You,
you are every radio in every hotel
in all the cities that are you and you again.
I’ll give myself a heteronym
the same as my beloved’s favorite poet.
Every final couplet will read the same:
How do you like me now, Love?
How do you like me now?
I’ve had some time to think it over and
I’d like to wash your back in Portuguese,
comb your hair in Spanish, address
your every eyelash by a petname.
The sky is made of cardboard.
I adore corrugation: the ups and downs,
a sheet of cardboard’s inner life:
zig-zag and heart monitor and some dark honey
eyes, you’ve got there Fern (may I call you
Fern?) casting your vertebraed shadow everywhere.
I’d follow those tracks, I’d take
that train across the country and write every day
to the man who first checked your book out of the library
for me, and who loved me, like God’s greatest maniac,
until I kissed the magic from his top hat
and now, there’s nothing I can do but wait
for the previews to end and hope, hope
the feature film will begin and at least one of me
will have even a bit part. Therein lies the problem
with leading men, Fernando, the screen darkens
and attitude gets thrown. Let’s take a bus of us
to the drive-in movie starring you,
co-starring you, written, produced, edited
by you: my gaffer, my key grip, my best boy
electric, my soundtrack, my all.
You, me and Jesus, Baby, we’re lousy with disciples.
Mine drag me around by the scruff of the neck
and when I ask whether it’s bitch-love or cruelty
that motivates this mode of travel, they don’t say a word.
Here, there, everywhere you. And isn’t that my hoop skirt?
Your mouth makes moths cry. Little life, won’t you wear
me again like you did last fall? We held ourselves up to each other
like lighters at a rock concert and then the swaying started
and all the little people in my head stood up and did the wave.
If you take the stage, I might just shatter.
Some nights some trees become candelabras and I can almost
see your brilliance thrumming an octopus of torchlight:
each star toasting the others, each other toasting the stars.
Fernando Pessoa, I Salute You All! first appeared in Intaglio (Kent State University Press, 2006).