Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan I know you by your scent, by your clothes, by your cars, by your rings and, of course, by your love of money. By your love of money that some distant ancestor left you as inheritance. I know you by your scent. I know you by your scent and by the dollar signs that embellish your eyes that hardly blink for your love of money. For your love of money and all that negates life: the asylum, the cell, the border. I know you by your scent. I know you by the scent of pestilence and horror that spreads wherever you go —I know you by your love of money. Under your love of money, God is a father so cheap he charges for his miracles. I know you by your scent. I know you by the scent, of sulfur, which you can’t mask which clings to all that you touch for the love of money. For your love of money, you respond with loathing to a smile, to pleasure, to poetry. I know you by your scent. I know you by your scent. Smell one of you and I’ve smelled all of you who survive only by your love of money. For the love of money, you turn even your own daughters to hard currency, to pure gold. I know you by your scent. I know you by your scent. I know you by the stench of your rotting corpse that somehow walks for its love of money.
Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan
I am whatever you think a black man is. You almost never think about black men. I will always be what you want a black man to be. I am your black man. I’ll never be only your black man. I am my black man before I am yours. Your black man. A black man is always somebody’s black man. Or they are not a black man at all, but a man. Just a man. When they say that a man is black, what they mean is that he is more black than he is man. But all the same, I’m a black man to you. I’m what you imagine black men to be. I can spill onto your whiteness the blackness that defines a black man in the eyes of someone who is not black. The black man is the invention of the white man. It is believed that to the white man falls the burden of creating all that is good in the world, and that I am good, and that I was created by whites. That they fear me more than they fear other white people. That they fear me, but at the same time desire my forbidden body. That they would scalp me for the doomed love they bear for my blackness. I was not born black. I’m not black every moment of the day. I am black only when they want me to be black. Those times that I am not just black, I am as adrift as the most lost white person. I am not just what you think I am.