Ivan Antonio

published works

Ivan Antonio has published six volumes of poetry: Flores em Pé de Guerra; Eu, Sonhador;  O Último Barco do Cais; Bicho Solto; Balada Para um Triste Amor; and Mar Adentro.

His most recent publication, Mar Adentro, is a tri-lingual volume in Portuguese, English and German.

Below you will find English-language selections from two of his works.

back to the poetry page

Home     Agenda     Memory and Gratitude     Around the World     Testimonials    In the media    Contact

flores em pé de guerra

flowers on the warpath

Poems: Ivan Antonio            Illustrations: Belchior, Hélio Castilio


FRIEND OF AMERICA                                               

For Milton Nascimento



     the stage

           the sound.

A black voice

                singing for America

                charms the world

He's an old acquaintance of mine

                 who doesn't know me

                 He is my friend

as he is a friend

                 of the people of the forest

Lights go off

                 he goes back home

And while in my typewriter

                 I write a poem

sleeps Milton

                 like a boy

without knowing about his new friend.

SONG OF CHALLENGE                                               

For Allen Ginsberg

The poem grimaces

sticks its tongue out at the police

and runs through the streets.

It invades the Senate

and challenges the Congress to prove

that there is no corruption in it

It flirts with the girl on the bus

and calculates how many

died in the construction of the metro

It gets confused

              by the miracle of the loaves

and writes to Jesus

               asking for the formula

of the multiplication

It does all this

            because it cannot be arrested

nor indicted.

There is no policeman who can arrest it

there is no bullet

             able to kill it

The frightened policeman

             tries to arrest it

but the handcuffs don't fit

            the hands of the poem.

He calls the sargent who is nervous

             and tries to kill it

but the poem laughs loudly

and says that the rifle

             is a lot smaller than the word.

At last there comes the chief commander of the battalion

and commands that the poet be arrested

because to arrest the poem

         there is no army

there is no captain.




mar adentro

sea within


Poems: Ivan Antonio                 Illustration: Ima Boim



On the island, I see the compassionate wave bringing in a bottle.

There is a small note inside.

And in the note, someone says: "Help me!"

I am an island, I think.

And from this end, I only feel the agony of those who are lost

and those who throw themselves into the open sea, never to return again.

For me, it was like this: I was a boy

and didn't even know that the sea was like an abyss

I was enchanted by the beauty of its waves

And, suddenly, surrounded by water on all sides,

I became a piece of sea, a piece of sand.

Today, I no longer know who I am

Perhaps I am an island, but, if not,

it doesn't matter, even alone...

I still love...


There, on the moon, an angel is hidden.

Far from Earth,

his eyes shine as he admires the poor mortals.

God knows, and only He,

why this angel lives tehre

and why he peeks at me with compassion...

When I was a child, I dreamed of angels.

They were good and protected children who were scared of the dark.

When the eyes of angels shine, they fill the dark forests with light.



Today, a star visited my window.

She told me that from up there she could see all

and that she saw me alone every night.

The little star was right.

I need a lap, little star,

I feel so sad...