Skip to main content

Poems from Critical Condition (2013)

Seven poems from Bonvicino’s forthcoming collection Estado Critico [Critical Condition]
translated by Odile Cisneros

Régis Bonvicino is our 21st flâneur, the Baudelairian lyric poet in the age of terminal capitalism, whose stark narratives of the everyday and recurring use of material from popular culture would be exquisite were it not for dystopian discharges that seep into the very fabric of the prosody. Any yet, against all odds, perhaps to spite them, the poems of Estado crítico are exquisite and wry and uncannily prescient in their fierce fight with life.
––Charles Bernstein

Another Storm

Street infects rain
plastic bottle drift by
unlabeled, naked
storm exhibits river waste

a dog fumbles
amid tree trunks
the rain verges on collapse
destroys a shack

reeking of turpentine
the tip of the CEO’s pencil
triggers a different storm

In the gift shop at La Chascona
post cards
books by Neruda

“I never stopped in the fight”
Che’s face,
unarmed and ill

José, the Mapuche terrorist

finally was caught
the CIA did the job
narco-terrorist honchos
were also nailed down

on that dizzying day too
a Peruvian told me that
Pablo, his Chilean uncle

a rich and greedy man
saltpeter dealer in Pisagua
was born again as a rat


Critical Condition

It’s the sarcophagus of a piranha-tart
It’s a near-sighted Tarzan
Scanning a blue sky
It’s Silêncio Nightclub

It’s a fink finking Drummond
like a fire extinguisher
It’s Sá-Carneiro’s translation
into Portuguese

It’s Baudelaire in twelve equal payments
It’s a babysitter for bugs
It’s a tractable Jean Genet
The middleman pushes ostriches

In a poke for Rimbaud
It’s the incredible portable bathtub
in the apartment where
Mayakovsky shot himself


Fable (2)

The butterfly is an inside-out tale
letters pierced by light rays
it’s raining a dry rain
the hardy fuchsia, a reality gain

the Araguaney tree is a scentless
despotic word
the giant dahlia is now a petal-less plant
abstractly, algae pollute the lake

there’s no way out for the haze
the word dies before its time
the butterfly turns into stone
its wing, however, projects



Nine a.m.
cold Sunday morning
tourist crossing
a deserted Regent Street
lights still on
at Pret a Manger
Bob Dylan’s “I’d go hungry,
I’d go black” playing
red Bentley
quietly drives by
on the glass wall
under the “Fitness Centre” awning
a motionless
gray sleeping bag
a beanie wraps his face


Hong Kong

It’s eternity and sincerity
in the back of a bus
It’s the deck of the old Bank of China
at night

It’s a fog screen
It’s the new Bank of China
In the night skyline, jutting out
It’s a missile fired from Beijing

It’s a Daoist monk in robe
treading the Hyatt Regency’s red carpet
It’s water from a waterfall spraying the train tracks
seen from the hotel room

China paying off Hong Kong
It’s self-mutilating beggar hunting for his income
It’s a boy biting a cigarette in the morning
It’s a tie tied to a clothes hanger

inspired by Italy
It’s loudspeakers blaring Jobim and Astrud Gilberto
in Lamma Island
It’s green beans and ground beef

It’s a weight-loss drug for overweight monkeys
It’s avant-garde bottles for jasmine tea
It’s the building of the old Tung Choi Street market
collapsing, water spinach

It’s a toothless Chinese man in a watercolor
It’s the poet Yu Jian’s bald head producing clean, renewable energy
in a hotel lobby
It’s an attack by neon Buddhas

It’s a flamboyant tango dancer
It’s a grave with a deck overlooking the ocean
It’s an Amazonian parrot on a golden perch
Perrier-Jouët champagne in a flute glass

It’s Tin Chan Temple
a gigantic Buddha
a Coca-Cola freezer in his belly
It’s “Delay no more”

stickers at Ladies’ Market
Diu lay lo mo, fuck your mother
It’s an Audi with tinted windows
It’s Hermès

A half, full moon
It’s a cloud above the sea
a panther
Later on, the sun


Last Words

Black breast milk
is a useless metaphor
the dry line of this narrative

is the black city in Romania
a swig of diesel fuel
the Chinese seamstress pisses
a black ideogram

on a chair
–a matter of logistics–
a worker at rest
beneath the aim of a rifle

a VIP soldier urinates
on the dead body of the enemy
the medium trots on a horse
and levers his tithe

it’s a spell cast for the sorcerer
it’s an event planning service
for the inner city underclass
it’s a top-notch street vendor

black breast milk
poisons bats
it’s an uneven magnet
in the sunset

a man inspects
his own gut
from the frontline of lack
he fires his last words


This Poem

This poem
is unremarkable
not unlike the rest –
just for a moment,

illustrates, apathetically,
the past, it catches flies
pays interest
has no air sac

snakes, mice, thieves
scorn its grave
plush wolves howl,
its future is moot

it’s a blind bee and its mate wearing glasses
it’s tongue is no sponge
it’s antennae scent out Drummond
unable to see in the dark

it makes no enemies
survives an attack
has no barbs
it puts up with the world



They killed the jaguar
his fables above all

they burned mulleins
fearing their words
might proliferate

the green ingá tree is a victim of revenge

they blew up the butterfly in mid-air

a gun disguised as a belladonna plant

the neck of a bottle chokes
an oyster in a coma

a plastic rod crushes
a turtle’s jaw

a blue-black grassquit steals a vulture’s copyright

a soldier tears out a smooth billed ani’s
vocal chords

the dry fountain dies out

the cloud arms itself
the railing corrodes the rain

For further information, visit Editora Hedra.

 Sobre Régis Bonvicino

Poeta, autor, entre outros de Até agora (Imprensa Oficial do Estado de S. Paulo), e diretor da revista Sibila.