Eu não falo português

for the first time
in my life
I watch and wait
for the presidential
election results from Brazil

Eu não falo português/
I don’t speak Portuguese
relying on those who do
and Google’s translation tool

I feel invested in Brazil’s politics
because their once and future
president a man known simply
as Lula
campaigned on the truth
that we need our Earth
to breathe for us

The Amazon basin
is filled with magnificent
thick ferns vines and tropical
trees that quench our thirst
by making their own rain
where there are trees there is water
so, Lula says no to raising cattle
that makes deserts of places
where giant spiders who eat birds
and snakes longer than rigs
need a steady drizzle to survive

But this does not concern
the brokers of São Paulo
the timber barons
and the generals
who encircle the current president
not one places any value
on the slowness of sloths
the breadth of leaves that enfold
raindrops that cradle malarial
mosquitoes house frogs the color
of dying stars it takes gargantuan telescopes
to see even though there are amphibian suns
high in the trees

In this century
being um progressivo
means we turn to a socialist
a trade unionist to conserve
Lula old white man
candidate of the forest subaltern

Did he spend his youth listening
to Tropicália
the Cuíca
to men like Caetano
and Gilberto Gil
whom he made the minister
for cultural promotion
of naked torso music
the gray four-eyed opossum
of the friction drum
women who bare (nearly) it all
at Carnaval did he fall for Rita Lee Gal
Costa Nara’s soft samba
how did he come to champion
the uncontacted peoples in Amazonas
while raising the banner for estivadores
in Salvador if not for the music
of Brazil’s northeast?

I hear Lula say to be prosperous
nations must be generous
the national anthem is a chorus
indigenous generous
todas as cores

(Maybe one day multispecies?)

And now the election enters the runoff round
Sudden Death is what it’s called
in American football

I swear I hear something tap the Heartwood
with every vote tallied.

About the Poem

This poem is my response to watching the 2022 presidential election in Brazil. I am concerned about what will happen to the Amazon rainforest, its flora and fauna, its peoples, and all of us if Jair Bolsonaro is re-elected president.

About the Author

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in Canada. Recent work appears in places like Flash Fiction Online, CafeLit, Die Meere Lit, Apocalypse Confidential, Poetica Review, Unlikely Stories, and Sip Cup. He is the author of the poetry collection, Of Fat Dogs & Amorous Insects and is a 2023 Best of the Net nominee in poetry.

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