THE POETRY OF GLAUCO MATTOSO,
pained and playful, emerges from his own blindness and fetishistic ardor. It is, as well, a transgressive response to the sexuality and politics of his native Brazil.

In the words of Steven F. Butterman, "Mattoso's fetishistic particularizing of the foot metaphorically subverts any notion of wholeness. Even though the foot may stand in for the phallus, with respect to both its libidinal properties and its power to dominate others, it is a body part that is not conventionally used for these purposes and thus challenges standard definitions of sexuality and sexual identity." [1]

The Four Sonnets Published Here
appear first in literal English translations by Mattoso's partner, Carlos Akira Nishimura. The original texts that follow will allow even readers with no knowledge of Portugese to appreciate the devices of meter, alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm that place these poems squarely in the classical sonnet tradition. Unavailable to readers of English will be the incorporation of slang and colloquialism, "Elements, writes Butterman, "which have always been hallmarks of the hybrid style of the author." [2]

 

LYRICAL SONNET

Some say love is blind and the flesh is weak,
but I only loved when I still saw.
Nowadays the blindness burns me like lava
and the heart is resistant to any knife.

Excitement yesterday, hang-over today.
The passion that enslaved my soul is gone.
If I still complain of my terrible fate,
I'm mocked and taken as a fool.

Not everything is lost: the smell still remains
invading my nostrils when I walk by
the door of my shoemaker neighbor.

So be it: the role I play is the clown.
The sense of smell is my last resort
and the odor of my fetish the only link.

 

SONETO LÍRICO

Dizem que o amor é cego e a carne é fraca,
mas só amei alguém quando enxergava.
Hoje a cegueira queima como lava
e o coração resiste a qualquer faca.

Ontem tesão, agora só ressaca.
Foi-se a paixão que fez minh'alma escrava.
Se inda me queixo dessa zica brava,
sou caçoado e passo por babaca.

Nem tudo está perdido: resta o cheiro
que invade-me as narinas quando passo
na porta do vizinho sapateiro.

Vá lá: o papel que faço é de palhaço.
O olfato é meu recurso derradeiro
e o cheiro do fetiche o único laço.

 

PLAYFUL SONNET

I'm blind, but I wasn't since a boy.
I knew that the size of my dick
wasn't larger than my little finger,
and taking it from there "... the tree is inclined."

Now I examine and jerk myself off,
and I still feel the fatal doubt.
And what about the other blind people,
when, in their privacy, ask: "Thick or thin?"

"Dwarf or giant? Am I a male or not?"
"How can I compare my cock to others'
without grabbing them all with my hands?"

And some other fatal doubts arise:
Would the hand of a blind man turn somebody on?
If so, surely the mouth would do it more.

 

SONETO LÚDICO

Sou cego, mas não fui desde menino.
Sabia que o tamanho do meu pinto
não ia muito além do dedo quinto,
e que a partir dali cresce o pepino.

Agora me masturbo e me examino,
e a dúvida fatal ainda sinto.
E os outros cegos, quando, no recinto
privado, se perguntam: "Grosso ou fino?"

"Anão ou gigantão? Sou macho ou não?"
"Como checar meu pau e o dos demais
sem agarrá-los todos com a mão?"

E surgem outras dúvidas fatais:
Será que a mão do cego dá tesão?
Se dá, na certa a boca dará mais...

 

Glauco and Carlos

 

HISTORICAL SONNET

I've been told that the foot I'm looking for,
which has its big toe shorter than the second one,
was very common in the Ancient World
and today its shape is called "Egyptian."

I tell you, not afraid of being wrong:
the foot of Brazilians is ordinary.
And when I search deeply into this subject,
I realise I'm nothing but a wretch.

Who told me to be a fetishist,
if the most available foot does not satisfy me?
The solution is elementary: I'd better give up

the aesthetics, which means nothing.
Besides, whoever has lost his eyesight
should lick a size fifty sneaker!

 

SONETO HISTÓRICO

Ouvi que o pé que tenho procurado,
com seu dedão mais curto que o segundo,
já foi muito comum no Antigo Mundo
e "egípcio" seu formato hoje é chamado.

Lhes digo sem temor de estar errado:
o pé do brasileiro é vagabundo.
E quando nesse assunto me aprofundo,
constato que não passo dum coitado.

Quem foi que me mandou ser fetichista,
se o pé mais à mão nunca me contenta?
O jeito é elementar: eu que desista

da estética, que nada representa.
Além do mais, quem já perdeu a vista
que lamba um tênis número cinqüenta!

 

SOLED SONNET

Sir, can I shine your footwear?
Shoe, boot or sneaker, it doesn't matter.
I don't charge anything and I clean pretty good,
because I go licking and the foot gets bright.

I know too well my job is degrading.
I'm blind, and that humiliates me even more.
But that's the way things are to satisfy
someone like you, so arrogant.

Under the sole my tongue reveals itself
the smoothest and the most sordid doormat.
You'll see the scene on a screen:

Live or staged, Sir, I only shine you,
imagining myself locked in a cell,
because you have eyesight and a male foot.

 

SONETO SOLADO

Patrão, posso engraxar o seu pisante?
Sapato, bota ou tênis, tanto faz.
Não cobro nada e limpo até demais,
pois vou lambendo e o pé fica brilhante.


Bem sei que meu serviço é degradante.
Sou cego, o que me humilha ainda mais.
Mas é assim que a coisa satisfaz
alguém como você, tão arrogante.

Na sola minha língua se revela
o mais macio e sórdido capacho.
Você vai ver a cena numa tela:

Ao vivo ou não, Patrão, eu só lhe engraxo,
me imaginando preso numa cela,
porque cê tem visão e pé de macho.


© 2004 Glauco Mattoso. English translations by Carlos Akira Nishimura.
Header © 2004 Mark McBeth, IDEA | MONGER

NOTES [1] and [2] : The Butterman quotations are taken from "Brazilian Literature of Transgression and Postmodern Anti-aesthetics in Glauco Mattoso" by Steven Fred Butterman. Madison, University of Wisconsin, 2000. (PhD thesis)

 

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Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1951, Pedro José Ferreira da Silva assumed the pen name Glauco Mattoso, a play on words emphasizing the condition that would eventually lead to his blindness. In the 1970s he participated in the movement known as "marginal poetry, "a refuge of "cultural resistance" used against the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time. The titles of some of his many collections of poetry ("Memoirs of a Jerk-off poet: Glauco Mattoso's best tidbits"; "Tongues on the Pap: a Salad of Glauco Mattoso's Most Tasteless and Spicy Poems"; "Rockabillyrics"; "Limericks and other Glauquian Mockeries"; "Centipede: Nasty Sonnets and the Like") suggest the satirical and antiestablishment nature of his work, which is also informed by bizarre sex, scatology, and other transgressive images. Readers will find more information about Glauco Mattoso on his Website, http://formattoso.sites.uol.com.br, including poetry and prose, critical commentary, and a complete bibliography.

 

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/November 2004