Permission to Approach BRAZILIAN AUTHOR

Capa Versa
Permission to Approach1
Respecting every story here, counting this one.
It's that yesterday I stopped in at a bar,
And I saw souls empty and cups full.
And I saw souls empty and bodies full of sorrow.
Here life extinguishes when the street lights go out,2
And it's not superstition.
It's that two years in a cell showed me that I became everything I told myself I'd never be.
And two years in a cell showed me that I became everything that they always said I would be3.
Somethings I can not show you,4
As hard as I try.
Yeah, Chal, the song of caged birds really is suffocating.5
And, Kaya, now I understand the bitter taste
about which you were ruminating.6
In my chest just the jeers7
So forgive me listeners,8
Because this was written by the soul.
And I did not come here as a militant.
I didn't come to protest.
So fuck yourself Capa,
This is more a sketch by Alexandre.
Who resolved to put in words what was stuck in my,
And thank everyone who stood by my side:
Bine, our conversations saved my life.9
And, Dorgo, you never walked out on a visit.10
Today my pain11 is not for you,
But tomorrow who knows.
Mom I miss you,
I can't see you today,
Blame these bars that don't open.  
Y'all don't know the deception
of the prison inspection.  
One day more, one day less.
Your company is markedly absent.
Forgive me mother.
I made mistakes on account of the empty refrigerator.12
Now I am a marginal13 poet.
But when they look at me, I forget I am a poet.
It becomes clear to me that we act like animals,
Because we are treated like animals.
Sort of like Tarzan or Ken the Wolf Boy.
Or Marlon the new boy,14
Who left us without the time for goodbyes.
Here Candy15 takes lives.
Snow White16 is not a fairytale,
At midnight in the uniforms17 projectile.
No picture postcard.
Welcome to the Baixada.

[1] Whenever Capa enters a place where people, like our elders, already are, he asks permission to enter with respect.

[2] Capa told me that where he lives—on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, in the Baixada Fluminense—there are Extermination Groups, militia that go around killing people after dark. When the street lamps go out, it's a sign that they are active and that someone has been killed. But it is also a Brazilian legend that it is bad luck when a lamp goes out. That's why he writes, "It's not superstition."

[3] Capa told me that when he was a kid, because of where he lived, people said he would grow up to be a thief. But he went to church, discovered writing early, dreamed of writing a hymn for the harp. He didn't believe it would happen to him.

[4] Capa was imprisoned in 2020. He said, much of what he'd experienced inside, he has not digested. So although he'd like to write about it, he's not able to yet.

[5] Chal is a friend and a poet. In one of his poems he writes, "the song of caged birds is suffocating."

[6] Capa would not be able to talk about the bitter taste of cocaine had he not been incarcerated. Many young men taste drugs for the first time inside, as was the case for Capa and his friend, the poet Kaya.

[7] Capa speaks to his own inner critic, the self-recrimination that his life was over.

[8] Capa's usual audience are listeners at the SLAM competitions. This one, he says, he wrote for himself.

[9] This is the romantic part of the poem where he is able to express something, and he begins to thank those who visited him while he was behind bars. He says if he were to thank everyone who visited or helped his family, he'd have to write a book.

[10] Dorgo is an influence in the poetry world and a friend. He got himself a pass to visit Capa in prison.

[11] The sorrow of feeling saudades, of missing someone.

[12] Capa explains, at the beginning of the pandemic, he was working recycling on public transportation but there was no more public transportation and no more work, no more money, no more food.

[13] The word in Portuguese, marginal, relates to being at the edges of the page, but as Capa says, also refers to a history of criminalization, to being marginalized by the police, to being forced to make the worst choices, last-resort choices, to choose the life of the street. The Brazilian dictionary describes marginal as: a person who does not respect the laws of society: delinquent, outlaw, bandit, criminal, evildoer, brigand, gunman, robber, bandit, gangster, thug, rascal.

[14] Marlon Gonçalves was born in the neighborhood; he was"one of our kids." He was sixteen when he was shot dead by police.

[15] Slang for cocaine, which also takes lives.

[16] Slang for a kind of cocaine.

[17] Capa explains how after midnight, the cops in uniform point their guns at anyone who happens to pass by.

Capa Versa (Alexandre Avelar) is a 25-year-old youth resident of the Engenho Pequeno community, in the city of Nova Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He completed High School at Senador Percy Batista Crispim State High School. "Poetry came into my life as a way to show the world the reality of my surroundings. I write to disseminate a vision of my neighborhood, to save our kids, as a form of empowerment for my brothers and sisters of color." "My greatest greatest influences are my colleagues, like Dudu de Morro Agudo, mc Martina, Sabrina Azevedo, and Dorgo Dj." Capa Versa is a poet, cultural producer and musician. He is a member of the Institute Enraizados and, part of the collective Enraizados no Vagão (Rooted in the Train Car), that takes art to public transportation, and he has participated in Nós da Rua (We the Street). He was champion of Slam Laje in 2019, and has taken his art to various schools and universities. Capa primarily dreams of bringing a community library to his hillside community, to graduate from college in History and Sociology, and to make a better life for himself and his family. For more: Image provided by the author.
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