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Deusa d'África

Translated by Vita Dervan


The city gates take the soul for prisoner

the spirit of the accused marching barefoot to its cell

the rusted latchkey has fallen into the oppressor’s hands

and third degree has been given to property and possession

the law does not provide for the detention of errant carnations

but, meanwhile, latches round enslaved wrists

cuffing the soul to the damned reek of the grantman

the small soul behind narrow or wider bars

the rust-resistant latchkey unlocks the mind so the spirit can set free

the world hacks up and spews blood on the floor beneath the tyrant’s yoke

a needle threaded from floor to ceiling stitching a tongue between two lips

when morning comes the sun rises inside the cell shining upon the birdcage that dangles

the Christmas tree on the town square atop the gavel brought down for the inverdict.


Born in districts where the light is shot through with gun-powder

we wander through the murk dreaming of illuminating weapons

amidst cries for the freedom for which our spirits starve

the meagre water stopped running from the bloody faucets

physical frame inoculated structure made robust

a high-powered cannon tracing a new arc through the ideal-gulf

some may perish so that others may survive in the worm coliseum

Mankind engorged on this banquet of silent death

bodies yielding to bruise and mutilation so that some blood might flow

for that passion of the cross the jug set upon the pilgrim’s table.


Body ablaze in the flame stoked by the soul

being itself outlined by this shifty feeling

the bottle filled until the top with terror

a kind of coolant or canned heat

working its way up the house terrace by terrace

with a glow-worm glow upon the roof of its mouth

servings of anguish gulp at the unpalatable body

signal-system of the ocean swallowing up the land and its extents

mango-groves drowning in waves of water roused by fate

a given day is never identical to the previous in its sadnesses

it recollects suffering with the washcloths applied to soak up

the sadness drenched in oceanated hellwater

reborn and rejuvenated with tears clogging

cisterns held erect by elaborate misery edifices

made of a savage feeling upon timeworn walls.


He put up the abyssal bed made of plastic

a hoarse-voiced far-ventured spirit

frame decked out from the armoury of deep slumber

he’d run aground in the sea of happy recollection

to the rhythm of a voice languid yet imbued with life

as Lazarus let himself be hailed by fate

“Persevere ye, man!”

he pierced the ship’s hull and made a back door exit

tossed his mask on the ground and rinsed his tongue with anti-bac

disinfected new and old routes to illumination

vaccinated the ribs on his straitjacket

went out among the multitudes and exhaled into a light

which veiled the lovers while revealing itself

unlocked in that tender embrace

a kiss on the chin disinfected a pair of colour-flooded shoulders in a barrel of affection

overmoving others to a disaffection

with the decaying architecture of the gaze’s circuits

a tyre was punctured and the gaze was fired

and doubt clapped up in the dungeon of cogitation

there was no reason for questioning the act

nonetheless, there was grace in the speed of the process

locking down an unlocked-down mind in the prison cells of time.


Deusa was born in Mozambique and has an MA in Accountancy and Auditory. She teaches at the Universidade Pedagógica and Universidade Politécnica, and she's a financial manager for the Global Project Fund – Malária. She's represented by the literary agency 'Capítulo Oriental'. She contributed to a number of newspapers and magazines, is a regular contributor to the Portuguese magazine InComunidade and is a columnist for the newspaper Correio da Palavra. She organised and contributed to a number of anthologies. She's the general coordinator of the Cultural Association Xitende and curator at International Festivals of Poetry. She wrote A voz das minhas entranhas (poetry, Fundac, 2014), Ao encontro da vida ou da morte (poetry, Letras de Angola, 2016) and Equidade no Reino Celestial (novel, Letras de Angola, 2016). Some of her work has been translated into Swedish.

Vita Dervan is an experimental poet and translator from London. She is a co-founder of RGB Colour Scheme lit mag and the Oxford Anthology of Translation.

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