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At Any Time, Hard Meat

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My land has no palm trees, or singing Sabiá birds.1 In this clearing, there is neither forest nor ownerless dogs at a crossroads.

In this idyllic desert, considered ugly because it is not seen as an asymmetrical mirage of itself. Then feel me intimate on my scorched earth. In a field of bones shall you die a vile death by mighty hand by Ibirapema2 punch, institutional crueira of the cassava roots.3

By club on the fontanelle my heroes died beardless and the batons of Brazilwood on a leisurely stroll; there where the bourgeoisie still eats my flesh, hard between their teeth.

Amargosa, so-called hard bitter meat.4

A place for birds that never sing between the palm trees, do you know it? Oh, careless sabiá birds.5

Said from Amaral to Amoral. My Black and Mulatto heroes died beardless.

They celebrate “very modern,” the cheapest meat is still that of the Blacks marooned at Morro da Favela on the banks of the Vasa Barris. From the banks of the Ipiranga rings a hegemonic scornful laugh.6

Hyper-modern baroque like an anthropophagus in his guts with cordially leaking blood. I do eat and I am eating. Eat the cheapest meat of Blacks of the land7 in the continuous banishment of the year 2020.

Twenty-two reflections of Gonçalo-Alves8 outstretched on the ground floor without Gonçalves Dias and I-Juca Pirama9 in the hands of the Timbiras or the modernist Andrades reported the literary event unintentionally. While the trunks of squalid little banana trees disappear into sinister history.

Eviscerated tidal bore not versed in Os Sertões and A Guerra do Fim do Mundo10 at the margins of mulatto sweat in the Vaza Barris stream between Canudos and Matadeira in Morro da Favela. Sighs longing for the promise of the nation. The Slave Ship is slaughtered, and sinks in the most arid Brazil, Raso da Catarina, in Bahia; It seeps mercilessly into the hands of Dilermando and his lover or at the behest of the Indigent Pre-Modernist.

On the eve of the ashes of a fourth manifested litany.

Badly said,11 but said anyway, modernism, that is still in your intestines, my entrails you have not digested. Sweet and indigestible manifesto for Amargosa.

Amargosa overflowing in the Pindaíba of the Recôncavo Vaza Barris sucked of hollow marrow in Morro da Providência, stinging, close and crowded.

Blood trampled on cachaça and jurubeba12 via taps opened by a tiny drip. I was inebriated on the eve of the ashes of a fourth sip.

The favela seeps memories of the smell of burning rope paying the peoples of the other Atlantic shore for the cheapest meat.

Canudos bleeds in a modern party that celebrates the nuisance of trying to forget.

On the eve of the ashes of a fourth litany, I manifest drowned, silent and exiled prayer beads.

Only bitter land. That perpetually buries the favela that still seeps with the truculence of the machine.

Cleared Bushes13, at any time Gregório will still say—in the continuous past—Sad Bahia, Sad Brazil, oh how dissimilar in my silent exile that seeps incontinently!

The merchant machine of twenty-two dead touched you at any moment. Machine.

In the bordering sludge, it imbibes the supposed shout of Ipiranga in underlying contempt.

So much business, and so many civilized dealers. Occult culture from the Blacks is the meat regurgitated by Bandeirantes of white complexion.14 And at first, I was scared. Scared of the difference and discomfort in the malaise of the party that celebrates me, served at the banquet to the learned people of lineage. My identity bereft in contempt of my mestizo race and exiled by a judicious order executed by a “four centuries” militia with relentless flags.

Cocorobó15 on the eve of the ashes of a fourth at the behest of the anthropophagous manifesto, indigent in empty rite.

Mast crosses the chest of twelve children and raises the flag of the elite squad to party in the Cabula with the bodies of boys from Vila Moisés in seventeen of the first of two thousand and fifteen ... and their twelve bodies are served to the indigent society.

The favela seeps flames every twenty-two minutes. And nobody does or says anything because the world ends here.

“Mê’á’ré txihí mê’á petoĩ’ré apetxiênã hãgnahay hũ iẽ pahuré”16

Extirpating this mixed, brown and Black strain says this motto to those who don’t have a lineage of four hundred. Only count in twenty-three of the sixth of one thousand nine hundred and ninety-three in which Paulo Roberto de Oliveira, eleven years old; Anderson de Oliveira Pereira; thirteen years old. Marcelo Cândido de Jesus; fourteen years old; Valdevino Miguel de Almeida fourteen years old; “Gambazinho” seventeen years old; Leandro Santos da Conceição seventeen years old; Paulo José da Silva eighteen years old; Marcos Antônio Alves da Silva nineteen. This is the banquet that is being updated.

“To be an Indian is to have a future with a horizon to dream.”

Bodies perforated by twelve calibers every twenty-two minutes.

In a brief centenary I will celebrate while civilized in the week of twenty-two. There I will sing, and count how many were served at each moment.

My heroes died beardless.

Here lies the black wet nurse, and at any time she is eaten and her son taken away from her because the cheapest meat is Black.

“Lati jẹ dudu ni lati ni ọjọ iwaju pẹlu ibi-afẹde ala”17 says a black or brown young man.

Breasts seep loss every twenty-two minutes.

Without any character, pubescent meat, sweet in the bitter life of brooding Caipora with caipirinhas to Macunaíma.18

Amargosa, my land, seeps and overflows every twenty-two minutes in a splendid party.

Cabula. Candelária. Canudos e Bendegó in flames burn in the friction of A Negra19 in twenty-two minutes.

Week of the slaughter in Candelária or the disappearance and death of Davi Fiúza that for more than five years has terrorized his mother. Dead at sixteen by masters of death techniques in Salvador.

In the week of twenty-two, at almost any moment, twenty-two or sometimes more children lay on the ground in Brazil.


Have you ever been to Bahia, Black girl?
Then go!20

Caetano Dias
Salvador, December, 2020

  1. Reference to a famous nationalist poem by the romantic poet Gonçalves Dias (1823–64), comparing Brazilian natural wealth to that of Portugal; from the colony to that of the metropolis.
  2. A wooden truncheon used by the Tupi-Guarani to kill prisoners of war
  3. Crueira is a solid, thick leftover that comes from the production of cassava flour used to feed animals.
  4. Amargosa (literally “bitter”) is a municipality in the author's home state of Bahia, in the Northeast region of Brazil. The name of this city originated from the hunting of bitter (and hard) meat of doves. This bird was part of the local fauna and part of the local indigenous menu. In the Portuguese version, the author plays with the meaning of two words:: “Dita dura” (for “ditadura” or “dictatorship”) and “Dita dura” which translates literally to “called hard”).
  5. The sabiá bird is known as a thrush bird in English. Here, Dias converts the name of the bird into sabia, which means “did you know?”
  6. According to legend, Regent Prince Dom Pedro, the son of King John I of Portugal, shouted the decree of Brazil’s independence from Portugal on the banks of Ipiranga River, in São Paulo, on September 7, 1822. However, his “shout” was clearly a tactic for maintaining the Portuguese monarchy. It is also referenced in the first verse of the national anthem:
  7. “Negros da terra” or “Blacks of the land” was an expression Portuguese explorers used to describe Indineous people in 16th and 17th centuries.
  8. Gonçalo-Alves is a timber tree (Astronium fraxinifolium) also known as kingwood and tigerwood, which is native to the Amazon Rainforest and the Atlantic Forest, among other biomes in Brazil. The number 22 is a double reference. It refers to the founding of the modernist movement in Brazil, often referred to the “Week of Modern Art of 22” which took place in 1922 when modernist artists met at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo to publicize their avant-garde works. It also refers to the number of murders of young blacks in Brazil.
  9. I-Juca-Pirama (“He who must be killed” in Old Tupi, an Indigenous language) is a short narrative poem by Gonçalves Dias. The poem describes the saga of a Tupi warrior who was captured by a cannibal tribe called Timbiras.
  10. The Brazilian historical narrative Os Sertões (The Hinterlands, 1902) by Euclides da Cunha (1866–1909) served as a basis for the novel A Guerra do fim do Mundo (The War of the End of the World, 1981) by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Both are based on the War of Canudos (1896–97), which was an attempt to create a communal city in resistance to the newfound Brazilian Republic. Lead by preacher Antônio Vincente Mendes Macial, known as Antônio “the Counselor,” almost 30,000 peasants formed the communal city of Canudos in Bahia, Northeast Brazil, following the abolition of slavery in 1888.
  11. In the Portguese version, Dias plays with the term “Mal dito” using it as “maldito” which means “cursed” and “Mau dito” which means “poorly expressed”).
  12. Cachaça and jurubera are strong liquors.
  13. With “Descampados Matos” (literally “cleared bushes”) and in the following lines the author references the Bahian poet Gregório de Matos (1636–96) and his poem “Sad Bahia” (“Triste Bahia”).
  14. Bandeirantes or “flag-carriers” in the Colonial period were profit-driven explorers who opened roads to the interior of the country and made fortunes hunting people. They were known for their brutality against Indigenous people and black marrons (quilombolas).
  15. Cocorobo was a reservoir built on the site where the descendants of the survivors of the Canudos War lived. The city of Canudos was first taken over by the Republic (1897), then by two dictatorships, the Estado Novo (1940), and the military (1969), the latter one flooded the entire archaeological site and the memory of the 19th century uprising, displacing the people who had lived there since colonial times.
  16. In Pataxó language: “To be an Indian is to have a future with a horizon to dream”
  17. Roughly translates from Yoruba as, “To be black is to have a future with a horizon to dream.”
  18. Macunaíma (1928) is a novel by Mário de Andrade about a mixed young man name Macunaíma for who is said to be “a hero without any character,” often considered a representation of the Brazilian personality. The term “Caipora” has a double meaning: It is slang for caipirinha, a Brazilian alcoholic beverage and it is an entity in Tupi-Guarani mythology meaning “inhabitant of the forest.”
  19. A Negra (The Black Female, 1923) is the title of a painting by Tarsila do Amaral, considered one of the most important modernist works.
  20. Lyrics from a 1943 song by Dorival Caymmi.

Caetano Dias, <em>Indigent Lake</em>, 2008. Installation composed of a body in cast sugar and video projection of a paradisiacal lake. Courtesy the artist.
Caetano Dias, Indigent Lake, 2008. Installation composed of a body in cast sugar and video projection of a paradisiacal lake. Courtesy the artist.


Caetano Dias

Caetano Dias (1959) was born in Feira de Santana, state of Bahia. His visual work began in the late 1980s through performance, urban interventions and mural paintings after his training in vernacular letters at the Catholic University of Salvador between 1985 and 1987. His research articulates the sacred and the erotic through realization videos, paintings, three-dimensional works, multimedia installation and digital photography. Between 1995 and 2008, he taught courses in the workshops of the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

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