The book of rain

In visions of the night, like dropping rain,
Descend the many memories of pain
Before the spirit's sight: through tears and dole
Comes wisdom o'er the unwilling soul-
A boon, I wot, of all Divinity,
That holds its sacred throne in strength, above the sky!

Aeschylus, 525 B.C. – 456 B.C.


I’m in my grandparents’ old house downtown, but everything is strangely quiet. No sign of the loud buses and street vendors screaming their products under the window. The living room is light green, like it always was. When I walk into the dining room, instead of the crowded, pink affair where we used to have three meals a day, it’s a cold, gray room, with an autopsy table in the middle. Somewhere in the background, an AC unit purrs ominously. In the autopsy table, there are bones, pieces of flesh, entire organs and muscles. My former roommate enters the room, wearing a white apron and yellow gloves. He tells me, in a very nonchalant way, that I have to touch the stuff on the table.

I woke up screaming.

She turned around startled and hugged me while I stared at the other side of the bed, watching the pieces of cloth we installed in the terribly noisy AC fluttering away, propelled by the influx of cold air. I turn it off.
- What?, she asks.
- Nevermind.
She embraced me harder, holding me against her breast, rocking me back and forth like a baby. I didn’t like that and rouse from the bed, aiming to the bathroom, where I turned the light to stare at my blank face in the mirror. I could see all the pores, the rugged stub of a two days beard, small dark circles around the eyes, and some kind of emptiness hiding between my pupils. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I was staring at my back in the mirror. I screamed.

That one really woke her up. She came to the bathroom and stopped in the door, rubbing her nose furiously like she always did when awakened suddenly.
- Maybe you should see a doctor, some kind of shrink. It’s no use for me telling you that I’m worried.
- Well, it helps, somehow. But we can’t afford it.
- Try your insurance. Now please come back to bed. I have to wake up really early tomorrow. No, in a couple of hours.

She went back to sleep and I kept on staring at my face. There was nothing behind my eyes. I was tired about these visions, but still couldn’t sleep. I lighted a cigarette and watched the sweat form in my chest, small droplets condensed from the suffocating weather combined with the overheating inside of me. After a couple of minutes, I went back to bed and managed to get something that could resemble sleep but was too feeble to be satisfying enough.
The next day, I was trying to concentrate on an especially boring article at work but kept remembering her suggestion about the shrink. To tell the truth, I kind of thought about it before, but couldn’t admit it. “As default rates rose, bonds backed by subprime mortgages got hit. That threw collateralized-debt obligations -- pooled-together debt instruments -- that held subprime-mortgage-backed bonds into turmoil. CDOs are cut into slices, known as tranches. The higher-rated tranches run into trouble only if a relatively high proportion of a CDO's assets get hit. Many CDO-valuation models showed little chance of that happening. But then that happened, too”. If this was nice, they wouldn’t be paying me to do it. But I was tired. More coffee: “Because some investors hurt by CDOs were forced to sell other assets to make good on their losses, and others began to wonder if other, similarly structured products were riskier than the models said they were, financial markets in general got rockier”. At that moment, I felt more inclined to put a bomb in the stock exchange than to write about it. Actually, that’s how I felt everyday. I could feel it growing inside me, like a tumor.

My coworker asked a redundant question. I couldn’t understand it fully because it seemed his mouth was moving slowly and at the same time blurred under the cold light of the fluorescent lamps. He was an old guy, more than twice my age, and would retire in a short while for his 401k and whatever you do after a distasteful life under fluorescent lamps, hunched on a bench like a horse ready to be fed.
- The Fed! The Fed is cutting the interest rates!, and that was it. He dropped to the floor and started foaming, holding tight his left arm with the other hand. They had to call the paramedics. Luckily, he didn’t die and they even retired him earlier. The company was being bought by another gigantic faceless conglomerate and everybody thought that was nice. They gave him half-hearted pats on the back one week after, when he came back to clean his stuff and gave us this wonderful piece of news. Now, with the interest rates down again, he could recuperate part of his life savings that the hotshots in the financial district had messed up because of a bad market hangover or simply pure greed. Greed is good, like that Gekko guy says.

The same afternoon that the old guy had the heart attack I called human resources to inquire about them paying for my mental health. No deal, they said. It was not included after the last contract negotiations with the union. But you still get an extra week of vacation!, cheerfully said the lady, some cold bureaucrat who probably was already planning the next restructuring, so it wouldn’t help my case to complain about our trashy health insurance. I was on my own. On the way home in the E train, I thought about which were our expendable expenses.



²Estávamos sentados na cama dele, completamente vestidos, quando ele abriu a gaveta da cômoda e tirou a arma pela primeira vez. O cano curto e o negro brilhoso do metal frio pousaram em minhas mãos. Alisei o aparelho mortal. Ele colocou as mãos sobre a minha, agarrou meus dedos e apontamos a arma juntos para um alvo imaginário na parede.
²O brinquedo virou constante nos nossos encontros semanais no apartamento dele, em Brotas. Eu chegava da escola cheia de módulos pré-vestibular e com o uniforme suado, ele nem deixava que eu tomasse banho. Tirava minhas roupas com carinho e me colocava na cama, pacífica, enquanto passava o cano frio pelo meu corpo.
²Com o tempo, alguns meses, os limites subiram cada vez mais. Ele começou a passar o cano da arma carregada na minha virilha, de leve e depois com mais força. Eu tirava as balas do tambor, girava a cabeça da munição ogivada, chupava o metal até que esquentasse em minha boca. Depois introduzia nele, que gritava e gemia intensamente. Ficamos dois meses nesse jogo. Quando chegou a época do vestibular, meus pais me prenderam em casa e afoguei os olhos em livros de matemática, português e história. Ele também não me ligou, mas conservei a chave do partamento dele, uma oferenda que garantia a presteza de nossas tardes lúbricas.
²Depois da primeira fase, fui até o apartamento dele. Na cama, ele seduzia uma menina ainda mais jovem do que eu, e nem tão mais velha do que ele, que tinha 21 e era sustentado pelo pai ausente e milionário. Os dois parecerem assustados); o cano da arma estava seboso de fluídos); meu rosto queimou e fiquei vermelha. Ele chegou perto de mim, me pegou pela mão, me colocou na cama ao lado da outra, limpou o cano da arma e a colocou nas minhas mãos. O ciclo completou-se. Tirei a roupa e quando a outra menina viu meios seios brancos, foi a sua vez de corar.

Jena, Louisiana

Jena Six


The House of the Rising Sun

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun.
It's been the ruin of many a poor girl,
and me, O God, for one.

If I had listened what Mamma said,
I'd 'a' been at home today.
Being so young and foolish, poor boy,
let a rambler lead me astray.

Go tell my baby sister
never do like I have done
to shun that house in New Orleans
they call the Rising Sun.

My mother she's a tailor;
she sewed my new blue jeans.
My sweetheart, he's a drunkard, Lord, Lord,
drinks down in New Orleans.

The only thing a drunkard needs
is a suitcase and a trunk.
The only time he's satisfied
is when he's out on a drunk.

Fills his glasses to the brim,
passes them around
only pleasure he gets out of life
is hoboin' from town to town.

One foot is on the platform
and the other one on the train.
I'm going back to New Orleans
to wear that ball and chain.

Going back to New Orleans,
my race is almost run.
Going back to spend the rest of my days
beneath that Rising Sun.



We went in this candle store in Astor Place because she wanted to check some scented wax. I normally hate this kind of casual shopping but on that day my mood was good; it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes or so, because I was the one fielding the bill. The store was small, but had rows and rows of multicolored candles, all sizes and shapes. One of them caught my eyes. It was a big one, twenty inches long, something out of a movie prop or an oversized soccer mom wet dream. Printed outside of the white wax, it was an image of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary. And everything came back.

When I was five years old, mom used to take I and my older sister to the countryside, to our uncle’s house, during the Day of the Dead. It was a long holiday weekend and almost half of it we spent on the bus going there, through dusty back roads and dead cities with ugly houses with disheveled dry wall or bars with liquor prices crudely painted on the facades. When we actually got there, mom would phone her brother from the bus station and he would pick us up with his battered Toyota, so we would go through some more dusty ways amidst the dry vegetation and sandy soil. His house was nothing more than a hollow brick house with an old ceiling in the middle of his land, where he managed to screw up even to toughest savanna crops. During noon, the sun would shine through the holes in the ceiling. Lucky for us, it never rained around there. You couldn’t raise anything in there, not even those goats that would eat everything, rubbish or newspaper.

The house had two rooms and a large kitchen-living room with a gas stove and a TV with awful rececption. The only two books in the house were “Germinal” and the Holy Bible. Even though I already had learned to read a bit, I stuck with the illustrations from the Book of Revelations. The old guy, who wanted to be a priest in his youth but never got around to studying and praying all day (he preferred some good cane liquor and loneliness), actually had a copy of the Book with classic Albrecht Dürer illustrations, the sort that would be seen in a protestant German edition. And they were good; I spent hours checking out the four riders of the apocalypse or the dragon-headed snake, the seventh seal and such.

The real reason for those travels, I learned later on in life, was to escape my dad’s cheating and boozing ways. It was already pretty bad at that time, and she couldn’t admit it. I guess she just decided to escape to there, in the middle of nowhere, away from the shame of the neighbors peeking through the half-opened windows and seeing dad spread out on the sidewalk after some cab driver had dropped him off unconscious. By that time she had become obsessively religious, and I suspect that those travels made her even more of a devout Christian. She picked out the fact that I was reading the Book at such a young age and took it as a sign. It was a sign all right; that I was terribly bored.

So after two weeks of the heat, flies, dried meat with manioc flour or rice, the skies closed and develop a deep gray tinge. People on the village started to whisper their concerns to each other, some of the old folks even screamed out of nowhere, like flesh barometers going wild in the unnatural humidity. Some of them started to pray. The mayor of the shit hole gathered some of the more concerned people and told them that it would rain hard, but that it would be good for the crops. I wouldn’t now what sort of crops he was talking about, all I saw planted around were manioc roots and sisal hemp, the kind you made ropes from. Those things grew on nothing, on a drop of dung, peasant blood and sweat.

When became undeniable that the sky was going to fall on us, my uncle bought a bottle of liquor and some extra reserves, some brown sugar and coffee and extra bread, and told us to stay at home. Huge discharges fell from the sky and shook the ground like it was the end of it all. My mother prayed. And then a huge storm came, like the oceans where invading them barren lands and transforming the savanna into tropical lush.

The lightning came closer to the house. We had no lightning rod, no way to protect ourselves. My sisters, at that time a full blown rebellious teenager, became more and more restless. When a particularly strong bolt hit the backyard, she screamed and ran out of the house into the pouring rain. I ran after her in the new mud, but mom held me tight and pushed me back to protection. My uncle went after her.

Mom grabbed a candle from the kitchen and lighted it. Holding our hands together, she told me in a very quiet and desperate voice: “Now son, we must pray for your sister. If we fail, she will die. We must pray, and god will deliver”. I stared at her face in fascination. The candle warmed and began to melt, little drops of fervent wax going down into our hands, burning the skin and then the flesh. “We must. Hold on. The pain is a sign. Is a sign that we are true to our faith. Hold on”.

“But mom, it hurts”, I said in a whiny voice, but unable to cry or understand. She was oblivious, chanting a regular church going song with her eyes closed. Now the wax covered our hands in multiple layers, cooling down, still warm though. My uncle came back, pulling my sister by the hair. She was crying and they were both covered in mud. Mom wouldn’t let go of the candle. The pain made me cry. The next day, we left back for the city and huge brown puddles soaked everything. But the grass was greener, like some miracle had revived the scorched land.

Of those burns from the candle, only a small spot remained after twenty three years. Mom continued to pray, even more when she was committed. Now she is dead. I never prayed again and I still can’t cry.


sumo sentimento

Hot and cold loves, sticky hearts and ice cubes in my glass of whisky. like and overripe fruit, the juice drips from my fingers and stains your clothes, face, white and smooth back, leaving the feeling that something is not right, succeeded by a blind faith that everything is wonderful, and than back to my eternal pessimism. a fascinating, hormonal, sentimental, raw merry-go-round, where I insist on trying roughly to keep my balance, without fearing to break my head in the rough asphalt.

there's a dream I would like to have: Sunday, both of us in an isolated beach, palm trees, ocean winds, solar energy. you grab a crab and show to me, he bites my hand and there is a droplet of blood. you get sad, I suck the blood dripping from my finger, crush the crab and we laugh.

cut: (in my dreams facts run over each other like a music video) we're in a mud hut with a small bed and two plates of well seasoned beans. we eat and lay to rest, you take off your clothes and look at me all serious, sit down beside me and caress my body. I start to suck on your thumb.

a strong smell invades the hut, we start to sweat, you ask me something in whispers, the breathing accelerates, pain in the back, involuntary spams, we cum and finally I cry, a long held torrent of tears, summary of my feelings.


Kruger, Inc.

Em algum lugar do Queens, esfria um cuzcuz marroquino. Um bloqueio incrível! Não consigo escrever mais nada.