NO REDEMPTION FOR RIO

Christ the Redeemer gazes over Rio from atop Corcovado, his arms spread as a symbol of peace and sanctity.

He can be seen from practically all corners, which had me thinking he really is all-pervading and knowing.

This statue hears and sees all: the crime and corruption; the suffering and instability; the severe class divide where rich and poor live side by side.

How ironic for Christ to oversee this injustice from up above, seemingly unmindful of the fractured society below.

I started writing this poem in Brazil then laid it aside. I’ve finally revisited and finished it, painting the scenes and thoughts that have filled my head.


Land of the silent ‘R’

Where the bum is an extension of the leg.

All shapes parade the curvaceous esplanade,

Though don’t dare to bare your sacred chest.

.

Copacabana a far-reaching desert stretch,

Camels traipse up and back.

Racks laden with watches, sarongs, bikinis–

All the garish generic crap.

.

A cold-blooded desert of dangers

As Stefano sure finds out.

A no-nonsense blade threatens his ribs

Wielded by a bunch of unsuspecting street kids.

.

Best surrender your verve to this volatile gang.

Or face an untimely end

Abruptly without a trace in some stained favela den.

Best surrender your verve or prepare to descend.

.

There he is

Visible from every corner,

Cristo Redentor on his high perch above.

Watching over the insecurity, the robbery,

The proximity between poverty and an elitist club.

.

Ipanema umbrellas d.o.t.to.d.o.t

In a sorbet filigree sea.

Hexagon webs ebb and flow skywards;

The shore draws deep breaths.

.

This egg hatches life, practice, and religion

For which Rio does not rest.

Worshipped under Lapa arches, favela alleys and rooftops-

Any space level enough for a net.

.

Worshipped at 2am on Tuesday:

Five games abuzz on fields and sidelines alike.

Taxis drive by on edge of a swift highjack-

Everybody runs reds after midnight.

.

Checkout chicks check paô de azucar,

Bitterness behind feigned gratitude.

Change given by the faces of beaten favourites,

Attributing to their existential attitude.

.

There he is

Visible from every corner,

Cristo Redentor on his high perch above.

Presiding over the corruption, the discipline,

Another religion, which the people love.

.

Six months in sight til la Copa do Mundo;

An endemic FIFA plants its boot

Stomping on healthcare, education, the unfortunate-

A nation prostituted, averse to salute.

.

Married women board the metro,

Widows sit in silence on the bus.

Bare hands grasp metal railings

Absent of gold and silver- drawing no fuss.

.

Demonstrations to pacify turn to

Stones hurled, buses set alight.

I spy sporadic bin fires-

A silent protest their plight?

.

Coloured walls splash and fall down Pedra de Gávea.

A favela cascade in concertina fold

Adjacent to affluence – Leblon’s priceless view how do they share?

The only instance these parallels will ever have in common.

.

And there he is

Visible from every corner,

Cristo Redentor on his high perch above.

Watching over the corruption, the inequality,

The proximity between poverty and an elitist club.

.

From a distance like Sugar Loaf,

It all appears to be stunning.

Dramatic mountains, tropical jungle, beaches,

Masquerading the fact things are polluted and actually aren’t running.

.

So visible from every corner

Cristo sits on his high perch in the clouds.

Presiding over the stability, the equality

While the seams of society unravel on the ground.

Sao Joao Batista Cemetery
Heavenly Cristo Redentor hears and sees all
Vista Chinesa lookout in the Botanical Gardens
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