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Quiet Virtuoso:
Laurindo Almeida

by Oscar Balajadia

São Paulo and the grand Rio were a plague
that kept on infecting my soul.

I died young, at ten, cursed
and killed by music, buried in the wind,
my epitaph a dilapidated and soiled rainbow.
Before that, my brothers, all eight of them,
passed away ahead, having nothing
in their stomachs but bitter hopes,
fatal ulcers and unshouted anger.

I was a believer,
baptized with Brazil’s foul water,
but I believed more in destiny
and songs than in anything else;
which was why, at ten, I was martyred by music,
but faced my Creator only and finally
at seventy and seven, with the grand Rio
and São Paulo both in my trembling hands
bathed with my poisoned blood
that boiled with paeans and rebellions.

© Oscar Balajadia

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