This poem paints such a vivid picture of life…if you listen close enough you might find yourself in it. This poem was written by my friend Giselle. Enjoy.

Dodging a young bareback rider
I land 1 meter from a capoeira roda
Where 2 dark men dance their fight
I flee those vulnerable cobblestone streets
of old Bahia

The downtown prostitute
In a faded torn t-shirt only
Dances at liberty with a cigarette
Dangling on the edge of cracked lips.

She spots me through jaded bloodshot eyes
A yellow frenzied haze
In the green plaza
Standing naively in new leather sandals
I bought that morning in the Bahia markets.

Her hand
My physican’s-daughter’s eyes see
Seeping from
Erupting sores
I didn’t know Brazil had any volcanoes.
Reaches me before the tin-din music
Of the steel band next to the dry fountain.


She looks for in a muddle of Spanish and Portuguese
She wants my money.

I ask what her name is,
I think it might be Yula
But I am dismissed by a husky groan for a laugh.

I see
Missing molars
Rotting gums.

Baby girl, you don’t need to know my name.
You just need to know.

Renato chases her away.
She spits at him (Yula has good aim).
Renato shows me his paintings,
Cheap landscape on discarded metal.
I humor him for 22 seconds before turning away.

She has AIDS, he calls after me,
But he still won’t get my money.
Renato has never known life like Yula.

Evening mass begins in the tiny basilica around a brick

I light a candle for 2 flawed silver coins and think of hungry

The priest is old.
80 at least.
Simple robe. I don’t see any gold, on him.
I put more silver in the wooden box by the door
And go find sallow Yula.

I hear her
Singing brashly about corpulent lovemaking in the rain.
I think how unfortable.
Before I reach her
Fishing from a bin 2 ragged cats dip their paws into
On the deserted docks of this old slave port.

For her hunger so deep
2 tall loaves of coconut bread
3 tins of anchovies in rows assembled at Maslow’s lowest level
a flask of bourbonly potion, salve for that peculiar nature of pain.

I stand watch as Yula
Fades away into Bahia’s nights secrets
Tottering vulnerable
Down these cobblestone street
Of the crippling old slave port
That never truly became extinct.

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