Ballads From The Lockdown

Written by Cassandra in her lockdown in Lisbon




Barbed-Wire Teeth


Last night I dreamt

I had barbed wire in my teeth.

In the morning I travelled to Sintra

To watch the sunrise bleed

Over the castle and forest

That have never known barbed wire.


It was beautifully lonely,

Like a song with a broken heart.


It was violently touching,

Like a rapist’s post-coital tristesse.


It didn’t sit right with me

– All this virginal perfection.


Perfection is the graveyard of imagination.

A god risen from his torture proclaiming:

Dream no more and bury your lusts.


I have no dreams or lusts

But no god or mother nature

Will ever dare deprive me of my right

To pretend to have dreams or lusts!


Last night I dreamt

I had barbed wire in my teeth.

In the morning I travelled to Sintra

To bite down with my barbed-wire teeth

On all the perfect trees, leaves, rocks

– And even the waves!



Knives For All Ghosts


Walking along the crowded riverbank,

Past the constellations of the Comercio,

I felt a sudden gunshot:

Don’t be alarmed,

It was only my loneliness.


I didn’t stop to think

Where and why

My loneliness had suddenly

Shot out from.

Instead I imagined myself

Holding a knife

To my father’s throat.


The sun was gently setting

Ageing the urban wilderness.

The air grew colder,

Intensifying my loneliness

But all I could feel

Was my father’s warm blood

On the tips of my toes.




Lisbon Café Conversation


“Have you seen the news,

The pandemic is coming to the Tagus?

Globalisation is readying a genocide

For the innocent multitude.”


How brightly the thorns of ill-omen

Bloom in the noonday sun.


“The war in Syria rages on,

An endless storm that will engulf

Our morality and dignity –

Humanity is going to the dogs!”


I am surrounded by sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome,

Westerners in love with their shorn chains.


“I heard there was a burglary

Yesterday in the Alfama – what do you expect,

All these foreigners moving in,

Lisbon is going to the dogs!”


Lisbon is the most beautiful place on earth,

You only see ugliness because you seek it so.


“And I can’t even find a job in IT

Because of all the privileged white males

Coming into the city and dominating me,

Importing a new layer of patriarchy.”


What is it I smell with my coffee?

Is it the paranoia of the savannah?


“I miss the rainy days of Lisbon,

Climate change is even taking that away;

I miss it when we used to run in the streets,

Getting drenched then being told off.”


Your nostalgia is a blindfold but that’s no excuse:

The truth is a blind gift for the blind.


I left the café and went for a walk,

Grateful that the city refused to mimic

The laws of the immutable cosmos.


I look up at the faint, day-veiled moon

And think of its soul-less indifference,

Then I turn my gaze onto a crowded restaurant

And feel thankful at the unlikely sight

Of seeing so many human beings well-fed.


The universe has no meaning,

Life has no meaning,

And I am the lucky one,

For I am free enough

To know it.




Bullets For Teardrops


The nocturnal wilderness of the city

Is pierced by my steps.


No one is around to hear them

And so they mean nothing.


The city makes no sound of its own

So it means nothing.


I have a gun in my bag

With bullets to split raindrops.


If the rain doesn’t come

I’ll blame the shackled tongues of men.


I have a gun in my bag

With bullets to split tears

(Raindrops were only for practice).


Saintly tears shed by placard devils

I’ll shoot in half and sprinkle with blood.


The nocturnal wilderness of the city

Is pierced by my imagination.




Ballad From The Lockdown


Some days I keep myself locked inside

To waterboard my creativity to life.

An Odyssey inside an apartment;

God created the cosmos in the dark,

Everything I touch in this confined space

Is a gestating Big Bang.


I am too human to be bored.

This poem I’m writing

Is a childish act of awe.

I am threading wonders

From my bloodthirsty mind.


Lisbon is miniscule

Compared to my bookshelf.

On my terrace the winter sun

Bathes the noir cosmos

Of my Raymond Chandler.


After I cook an Italian meal,

With ingredients borrowed from another country,

I sit in my cocooned living-room

To watch A Few Dollars More

And throw myself into the film,

Clint Eastwood’s Latina bitch.


Have you ever played solitaire

Whilst listening to The Godfather theme?

Or read existential poetry

Listening to Ennio Morricone’s westerns?

I have. I am a way for the cosms

To enjoy itself. The universe’s Latina bitch.


When night came, I closed the curtains,

Put away my books and songs,

Opened a bottle of port and sat

In front of my Playstation to admit

The truth that the mind can harbour

More realities than nature ever could.

I am too human to be bored,

I know this as the Fatalities flow

And my lips are tainted by port’s scarlet kiss.



White Gods


What would the gods

– If we decided they existed –

Say about the city

Shaped in the image

Of onrushing humanity?

Would Zeus see

What I used to see:

A sexual bullring

Inhabited solely by

The fucked and fuck-deprived?

Would Athena see

What I see on sunny days:

A concrete library

Of disused wisdom-in-ruins?

Would Ares see

What I see in films:

Urban tribes segregated

By barrios, guns pointed

At the eternal other?

Everything is here

Except for the gods.

But if the gods are a way

For us to see ourselves

Aren’t they more real

Than the multitude of strangers

Blindly passing us by?

The gods are gods

Because they are barren vessels

Of whatever meaning

We wish to impose on them.

My gods have no meaning

Beyond what I make them see

And tomorrow they might not exist

After my visit to the riverbank.

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