Poems: Sergio Ballouk

Sergio Ballouk reading.

[Translations by Julian Cola.]

Morning Sun


the first sun ray

of the first day

of the first morning

of new love,

rancor asphyxiated

to a bygone past,

now I appreciate,

            here and now,

            the first morning

            of the first day

            of the sun’s new ray

Manhã de Sol

no primeiro raio de sol

do primeiro dia

da primeira manhã

do novo amor

permita-se sufocar o rancor

esquecer o passado

para apreciar

            a primeira manhã

            do primeiro dia

            do novo raio de sol


From the insight of my eyes,

pathways revealed

From the insight of my ears,

graced by friends

From the insight of my entrails,

kinfolk emerged

From the insight of my fingers

I swear to this testament

From insight,

I’m all insight


Do calo de meus olhos acertei meus caminhos

Do calo de meus ouvidos fiz meus amigos

Do calo de meu estômago fiz minha família

Do calo de meus dedos faço este testamento

Do calo

Sou todos os calos

To All Those

to those who accompany me

by the feet of others

who sense me by the mouths of others

who deal me by the hand of others

despise me by the hearts of others

read me by the eyes of others

ohh, to those who accompany others

Para Todos Aqueles

para aqueles que me acompanham

pelos pés dos outros

que me enxergam pela boca dos outros

que me vendem pelas mãos dos outros

que me odeiam pelo coração dos outros

que me leem pelos olhos dos outros

eita turma do vai com as outras

Stars Upon Footsteps

a high flag

was hoisted in the windowsill,

it’s a curtain and doorway to the favela,

the national flag

akin to a swaying globe

I could see it from the asphalt

as the moon launched shooting stars upon footsteps



unceasing racket

wild explosions,

revelry, could it be?

ecstasy, maybe?


it was a firestorm

consuming a disputed square meter

of a burning favela

Estrelas Nos Passos

a bandeira estava lá


era janela

cortina e porta da favela

era a bandeira nacional

o globo balançava

era o que pude ver do asfalto

a lua jogava estrelas nos passos

nos sonhos

no madeirit do quarto

e era tanto pipoco

tanto estouro

que parecia festa

parecia alegria

mas era o fogo que consumia

o disputado metro quadrado

da favela que ardia
Sergio Ballouk holds a B.A. in publicity and information from Faculdade Cásper Líbero and a post-graduate degree in public administration from Universidade Mogi das Cruzes. His poems and short stories have been published in Cadernos Negros (Black Notebooks). He participates in literary soirées and poetry circles whenever possible. Enquanto O Tambor Não Chama (While the Tambour Doesn’t Call), his first collection of poems, was published in 2011. Ballouk resides in the city of São Paulo.
Raised in the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, Julian Cola became fluent in Portuguese during an extended stay in Brazil. He’s been awarded a B.A. (cum laude) in Portuguese by the University of New Mexico and a CELPE-Bras Certificate (Brazilian Ministry of Education). Since 2012 he has worked as a translator and editor.

Translator’s Note

Select poems by Sergio Ballouk have been made available to Queen Mob’s Teahouse because of their universal themes. The poet’s work emanates from the, so-called, periphery of São Paulo’s city-cultural center. This urban metropolis, like so many other cities throughout Brazil, is renowned for producing a society that’s not only stratified along socioeconomic and racial lines, but also delineates accessibility to literature. My work as a translator aims to provide opportunities to poets and authors who have developed independent literary movements despite being cordially shunned by traditional cultural hubs. Sergio Ballouk’s poetry, having been acclaimed and recited at arts soirées on the outskirts of São Paulo, can now be enjoyed by an English-speaking readership.

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