Maria Thereza Alves

Recipes for Survival
Seeing you

Angelo Kretã


Angelo Kretã, 1984

A Poem

I began writing poems in my early teens and even thought to put them to music and tried to learn guitar but unfortunately, my part of the family is not musical. Although a native Portuguese speaker, I grew up in New York and thus my poetry was written in English. Each poem written was a necessity and I therefore experimented with language to liberate it for the poetic urgencies.

Angelo Kretá

Kaingang1 lost the land
To Forte-Khury, who
Lost it to F. Slaveiro & Sons, who
Lost it to the Kaingang, who
Lost it to F. Slaveiro & Sons
In 1979, by court decision.

Você sabe o que e a fome,
Do you know what is hunger.
A fome não e brincadeira, sabe.
Hunger is no game you know.
Eu te digo, a fome não e brincadeira.
I tell you, hunger is no game.2

Kretá led an uprising,
In Rio das Cobras – the River of the Snakes
1,200 warriors
(Let us be romantic – reality is not)
Expelled 6,000 whites.

Kretá said, “I fight for my descendents.“

A government official said,
“These Indians have been
dying out for a long time,
and we cannot be the ones
who stop this process because
the price is too high.“3

“Comemos pouco.“
We eat little.
“Comemos mal.“
We eat badly.
“E temo fome mesmo.“4
We hunger always.

Kretá led an uprising in Manguerinha,
They still have not won –
They still have not lost.

Angelo Kretá would make plans for winning,
On the front porch, drinking maté,
With his straw hat, sweater, blue jeans,
And black moustache.

Kretá was going to tell me,
How he was going to feed
His people during the offensive
Against F. Slaveiro & Sons,
How he was going to keep the
Brazilian pines in Manguerinha
From being chopped down.

Kretá had many plans to make.

Kretá was killed
Four months
Before my trip to meet him.

From 1900–1957,
800,000 Indians were killed.
Kretá was killed in 1980.
Just when I knew his name.

1 Indigenous nation in the south of Brazil.
2 Statement by a Macuxi chief.
3 Statement by the Governor Secretary of the state of Rondonia.
Statement by a Macuxi chief.

Maria Thereza Alves, September 1984

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