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The Day the World Changed

JOÃO MELO (Translated by G. Holleran)

A man pressed his bony knee,

lovingly, so he said,

or maybe that was imagined,

on the neck of another man,

in order to, so they say,

put him in his place,

that is,

cement him in history


The gesture, proud

and indifferent

was transmitted

through all the open veins

of all the men and women

on the planet,


by the same shock, the same pain,

the same inconsolable rage


In an instant,

the whole course of history

unfolded and scattered

across the four poles of the planet

like fragments of a sleeping bomb

dirty but still



Then, suddenly,

the world changed:

crimes, truths, monuments

tumbled through the public squares

persecuted by crowds,

dancing and chanting,

announcing unsung mornings



Did this really happen

or will we all wake up tomorrow

with our heads on the same threadbare,

bloody, settled pillow

of history?


JOÃO MELO, born in 1955 in Luanda, Angola, is an author, journalist, and communication consultant. He is a founder of the Angolan Writer´s Association, and of the Angolan Academy of Literature and Social Sciences. Currently, splits his time between Luanda, Lisbon and Washington, D.C. His works include poetry, short stories, novels, articles and essays and have been published in Angola, Portugal, US, UK, Brazil, Italy and Cuba. In the current year (2023), he will also be published in Spain. A number of his writings had been translated into English, French, German, Arabic, and Chinese, and appeared in various international journals and magazines. He was awarded the 2009 Angola Arts and Culture National Prize in literature category.


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