Marble Seasons

A Collection of Poems by
G. Theodoridis
©1994https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B096YMQM96/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


The Tranquil Trip
A Poet’s work
Salome
Plea for a Portrait
Emotional Flux
The Diploma
Song on a Canvas
Supple Reeds
My gardener
Shower
Vased Chrysanthemums
On my Colleague’s Departure
The Slipper
The Didgeridoo
The Tram
Man
Visit me now!
The Warrigal Bitch
Embryos
Enlightenment
Fire In the Swamp
Valediction
Worm Lovers
That There Hill
Theme on a Canvas
Trap-veil over Trap-hearth
Sediment
Sanity
Anser Anserum
Midnight at a Singles’ Bar
Prometheus
The Morning after on a Greek Beach
The Odd Artist
The Odd Photographer
Upon Homer’s Odysseus
Olive Grove Soil
Ruins
Marble Seasons
Gardens
Goats
Salmon Women
When the Salmon Women Left
The Teacher
Venus of the Streets
Helen of Palestine
Oh, Death!
Anchor the Busy Shadows
And so, once again I see
Flibbetigibets in the Ashes
Asphodel-Daffodil
What The Priest Saw
Birth Rush
The Brigitte Quartet
   1. Brigitte in the Forest
   2. Brigitte in the Well
   3. Brigitte in my Glass
   4. Brigitte in my Bath
Allegro Vivace
Butterfly
Cassandra
Cauldrons
Classroom Rites
Two Questions They Always Ask After The Event
   How was I?
   Have I a good figure?
Jasmine
Dear Jasmine
Letter to a Friend
Medea
Sirens
Soul Mate
Emigration
Our Ancient Boat
The Palm and the Cypress
Ode upon an Aged Man
Edwina’s Bush Home
The Soul of the Elm
The Dove
Summer Grass
The Sacrifice
Age
Music In the Shadows
Today’s Art Lesson
Enough!
Ash Womb
The Orchid
Breakfast at Sophia’s
The Dingo
Outside the Dingo’s Den
Fifty Springs and Summers
Sleep
Spring to Spring
The Gatherer
Tout est Calme
The Tragedy of the Mask
Watermelon
Some Poems in Greek

Some Poems in Greek
1. Μάθημα Κουλτούρας / Lesson on Culture
2. Αλλαγή Ζωής / Change of life
3. Εκπλήρωση / Fulfillment
4. Σφουγγάρια / Sponges
5. Τα Κεράσια / The Cherries
6. Η Eντομολόγος / The Entomologist

——————————-

The Tranquil Trip
For my teacher, Prof. George Gellie. (1918–1988)

The Eucharist is in the tabernacle.
All is well
The service may begin.

This is a face that opens like a holy
Tabernacle.
The eyes and mouth slowly phrase
Out the alchemy which turns behind the forehead’s
Deep
Fraternity of lines and on this face is the
Tranquil wisdom, drawn gracefully with quills from
Within
And with splendid colours supplied by a god
Whose dictum might well be,
”words
Areactions, indeed, good words are good
Actions and vice versa!”

Or,
“Words are the wombs of actions and
Actions the graves of words.”

Words, indeed.All the words uttered,
All those written and all those that will be.

Dust clean now the precious marbles,
Unroll the frail papyrus and read,
Read!

He taught us what those Greeks, by the
Same splendid alchemy of words, managed to do.
Words, accents, breathing marks and iota
Subscripts. How easily the meaning changed
With the subtle twist and turn of an
Accent or a breathing mark. And taught us too
Why wars
Have been won and lost because of just
Such grammatical subtleties!

And with that teaching the misty outline of a shore,
Lined with marble took shape for us
And,
Ahoy, me mates!Heave ho and sharpen your elbows at
The oar!I know this shore well and I know that
Just a mile deeper in the mist
There is a spire!

Ah, the spire!
This gorgeous spire that inspired us all to spend some
Time
In loftier company, slowly, socratically, taking
All the questions in, sipping at the Eucharist’s wine!
That lofty spire inspired us all!

What more may students ask of their
Teachers?

Anchors aweigh mates! Heave ho at the anxious oar!

Will they still come?

Will the marble shores still come
And
Will the men and women with the
Elegant minds offering the Eucharist wine still come?

A Poet’s work

Then your “poet” friend came
And, before he left, he
Spread his yellow silence
Over the burning logs of our fire
Place.

Like sickly pus in a heart
Like a snail crawling over a work of art.

He
Is no poet, that friend of yours, with the
Phlegm in his eyes,
With eyes where one dies of malnutrition.
Look at our fireplace now!
See how that flame — that
Red flame that once kept us warm
And clean
And wise and whose din filled the whole house
And kept
Us
And our eyes alive

See how its once red heart is now
Yellow,
And see how the embers fade as they die?

He is
No poet, that friend of yours!
A poet’s work is to turn the ashes into
Flame, to heal the jaundiced eye and let it
Thrive in new sights,
To show the snail how to admire
The work of light.

He is no poet,
That friend of yours.
Where did he get his diploma from?

Salome

I will loosen Sleep’s soft bands
For you tonight.

Come early.

You’ll find that the jasmine is still
White and that it hasn’t died from neglect.
On the contrary
It has completely taken over the pergola.

Though Salome’s dance was
Enchanting
My head is still intact.
Besides, I’m no Baptiser.

Come,
I will loosen Sleep’s soft bands for you
Tonight.

Plea for a Portrait

Paper and pen in one hand and a candle’s
Butt with its scuttling flame
In the other
I come to praise her again.

Drowning Time part! Like the waters of the
Hebrew myth
Part!

Let these waters stop their rushing course but
You, Stellar Muse, go on with
Your inspiring song;go back now and tell
Of the summer moon that rolled above our bodies
And of the fragrant myrtle domes that gathered our
Sighs.

Help me write this dead girl’s portrait!

It was her mother who daily spun the spindles of
Fates and of men into her mouth’s basin,
She it was, who drew
Brazen whispers in the summer air and made the
Villagers look sideways at my gait.
Some frowned and
Others tended to approbate my
Book-reading and my short pen’s flight but
All-in-all,
A general agreement was balanced with
The summer light that
She and I should blend in pair for
We were both
Ripe and ready to be picked by Life’s exposed vitals.

Thus the summer moon and thus the shrubs of fragrant
Myrtle on the hill where we tore the petals of
Each other’s bloom.

Undulating her body, like this land’s crimson whims and the
Morning sky pampered her eyes for eons.

Primitive black mud coloured her hair and
The sounds that the amorous stars make as
They couplesquirming in their nocturnal haunts
Are the visible harmony of her
Mating calls.

Calls that used to come in lachrymal sonnets
Though from frolicking lips;
And I,

I, fixed by them again now,
Come to lift the heavy bands that
Death rolled above her eyelids;
For I’m in arrears again and my pen is mute
And
The story of
This love remains unfinished.


Emotional Flux

Nothing but the wind that gives soft tremble
To the leaves resembles her.
Nothing!

With her,
Everything is in a state of flux.
I have sunk my face in the quivering shadows of
Elm-leaves,
Loosened all my joints -legs and arms and spine-
And I drove my mind out of its bony throne-
And yet,
The stars still paint despair.

I have gathered the drops of blood,
Gathered them one upon one like the pilgrim
Gathers the splinters of the
Holy relic and
I’ve fed the elm’s roots with them.
Will this wind never stop?
Older women have told me that the song of the
Trembling leaves will stop soon;
And that the perfume of
The woods will soon lose its charm for her
And…

Ho! There, look at the
New brides they bring me!
Tall, straight, unbending, against the wind,
Uncharmed by the scents of the woods,
Their nostrils seek the smells of the
Hearth, of the bed and of the furrowed fields
And
Their mouths smell of berries and figs
And
There’s beauty enough in those eyes -soft, black bows-
To wash all that despair from the breezy sky
And
Kissing enough in those lips to turn the heart
Into a pool of Dawn-lilies!
Why wait,the older women ask me.

God,
How short was her moment, her forest-scented moment!
How swift that moment’s feet
And Time,
Time, like a grotesque gargoyle
Stands fast to her beauty’s horror.
All is in emotional flux!


The Diploma

On the flinty lips of my birth-river,
A spring-water river that runs passionately
Beneath Artemis’ lavish cliffs,
You loosened the swaddles of my unfledged
Soul.

You picked the soft cloth slowly
With the tips of your grin
And unwound it

And,
Turn after turn
Like the swift, graceful cadence
Of a swallow’s tail
The bandage ascended above me.

And
Beneath us the pebbles,
Some full-white, some flecked with red
As if sprayed with the blood
Of crushed cherries

Smooth, round and made alive by the
Wild paws of Artemis’ hounds,
Crooned at each turn
After turn
Of our disordered twine
Tightened fast in the rushing turns
Of love-in-the-making.
Two elks, then two tigers,
Two butterflies crazily searching
For their buds
Through the fine tapestry of the
River
Spray and the
Sun’s rays

And when my soul fledged
And the soft swaddles dispersed
Into the beating rush of the passionate river,
Your grin intensified
A little,
Just a little.

Like a signature on a graduate’s diploma,
You unwrapped your flesh from mine
And walked away
Following the banks,
Looking for another.

I gripped anxiously at the diploma.
“Ah, a diploma!”
They now say and look at me proudly.

Tempus may fugit
But my diploma stays!
Posterity’s evidence that my soul is
Fully fledged

Yet my body,
My body,
Is naked still
And still unfledged.

Song on a Canvas

There’s no wind without movement,
No movement over this landscape
No temperament and
Wretched is the whistle of
This train and of this poor desert boy
And of the flowers
Above us and of
This starved stalk of corn.
Wretched the twang of the sinews as they are
Released by Hunger-driven death.
See the lute strings in the hand of the
Dead bard

And
There’s no
Imagination after the
Love is drawn out of
Philo-
Sophia, so wisdom is left simple

And
Harsh; and there’s
No Imagination
After the paint is torn away from the brush
By the hungry canvas, none
After the parents are pulled away from the child
By Court Decrees.
There’s no wind without movement and
There’s no movement more wretched than that of
Hatred
Made ice-white and glacier-strong by having it
Stripped of imagination.

But
The song is left
On the canvas my loves,
My loves.



Supple Reeds

I played with the
Sun’s dazzling flakes that hopped about
By the young rivulet of a
Village whose dress in winter
Was like a bride’s and in summer
Like a groom’s
When I was but a fraction of
A man.

And
While the other children
Wore garlands of taut strings of wheat
Mingled with those little marigolds
With the scented sighs,
I chose the green, supple reeds
Of my rivulet,
Threaded the little fish
I had caught with my bare, childish cunning

And tied the reeded catch around my forehead.
The other children laughed
At the city snotty slick from
Thessaloniki.

Yet
I was born in that village,
Under that ageless plane tree there;
The one with the calming disposition
That bends over the running water.

My child-mother had told her younger sister
To run for the mid-wife of the village
But the silly little girl
Stopped to play with the priest’s goats
On the way.

“You must have landed hard on your head
When I heaved for the final push,”
My mother said, accounting for my
Silliness.

The children’s laughter reached the
Other villages
Of the Universe
Of which I knew and even now know
So little.
Small knowledge that made my rivulet even smaller.
Even smaller. A sunspeck in this ageing darkness
With the disturbing disposition
Of my nearly-whole number.

My gardener

Oh, yes, I have a gardener, not because I’m lazy
I used to love plunging my hands deep into the soil,
the darker the soil the better
Caressing every worm
but because my back,
My nasty, nasty back, is becoming more and more
obstreperous with every passing day.

My gardener sees life in every plant in my garden.
Life and wisdom and cleverness and vigour
and all things to beguile the fascist
who wants every plant to be obedient
and decorous and fructiferous
And all things unnatural.

Zeus asked Prometheus to make Man obedient and reverential
to him and to all the rest of the gods on Mt Olympus
but Prometheus refused.
Man was his creature and he made him to be upright and
sovereign of his mind.

And so when my gardener uses such words,
words like “fascist” and “obedient” and “useful, like an accurate clock” and like a “timely train” I know, from his castigating eyes,
I know that he’s castigating me.

I’m the garden fascist, the demanding commandant, the man with the truncheon dangling by his right leg,
And I’m the one who wants to take Nature out of Nature’s children!

“Gardening is like teaching,” he told me once. 
”You were a teacher once weren’t you?”

I thought for a minute before I answered.
“There’s good Nature and bad,” I said, “just like there are
Weeds and poisonous plants in every garden.”

He smiled at that and shook his head.
My gardener agrees by disagreeing.
Odd man, wise man, silly old coote!

And so we’d argue and talk about weeds and poisonous plants
for hours and naughty students but good
and obedient students but bad,
and before we’d finish we’d sip an ouzo or two,
A Greek coffee or two
A smile or two and
A philosophy or two.

And the weeds are all still there, alive, vigorous and smug as always!
They won again.

Perhaps that’s why I love this gardener.



Shower

I took this evening’s shower
With a thought
That obeyed gravity
rather than me

And
Fell onto the slippery floor
Before it glided into the
Hole.

A crimson, thought, I admit,
One that made the cactus
Bend soft degrees in shame

But…
Damn the disobedient thoughts!
I shall lose some hours of sleep
Tonight.

Vased Chrysanthemums

Your Soul
and
Mine are now like those open white
Chrysanthemums.

See?
The buds are bent low under the weight of
Vase decay.

Thin petal after thin
Petal each falls under the weight of
Vase
Decay.



On my Colleague’s Departure

I shall feel a little hollow
From now on.
The man who sat at the desk
Next to mine is gone
Like an autumn oak-leaf that’s torn
By the breeze that runs just ahead
Of Winter
Scattering wisps of warnings of
Atmospheric turmoil
Or like a great bear that turns despondently
For home when the season is over.

I shall prick my ear for his crisp autumn wit
In vain
From now on
And I shall feel trapped
Like a fawn is suddenly trapped
In a forest of
Rushing fires.

This great bear has gone
And with his parting also are gone
The mellow whispers about Homer and the
Tragedies of Greece and Rome
And England

And discussions about
Symbolic instruments in
Books -ravens, doves and the like-
Will never produce the same
Delightful juices.

When I turn to speak to him from now on
I shall know that the oak-leaf
And the great bear are gone
And I shall feel abandoned to a
Sleepwalker’s soliloquy
Pondering things in silence, alone
And I shall feel cavernous
And cold
From now on,

Now that my colleague’s gone.



The Slipper

The grass grew tall around your slipper
And so now it knows the language of the worms
And of the birds.
They perform dances of magic
And croon enchanting spells around its entrance.
It lays there under my vine-covered pergola
As if spellbound
And I watch it being embroidered
Slowly and meticulously by the
Dawn’s and the sun’s
And the moon’s messages.

All our yesterdays and our
Tomorrows dance together within these
Flashes of light.

Tall, urgent waterfalls -these blades of grass
And light- rush through our story. Pulses of
Our time. Wizards and witches
Our moments.

Omens rattled in our night-breasts.

Yesterday our tomorrows were palpable dreams
And today our yesterdays are forsaken breaths.
I pour out the ceremonial mead and sing to
The airy meanads from whose dance-circles you’ve emerged
But the waterfall is in too much of a hurry
And you’ll soon be lost in
The growing grass.

The grape vine that shades my pergola needs pruning.

The Didgeridoo

The hollow reed ploughs,
Gently ploughs its gurgling song
Deep into the Earth’s
Graceful entrails.
A black’s song, a black’s reed
A black’s conquered Earth.
Conquered, conquered but
Not vanquished -a soul is
Never vanquished.
Earth! Gutted by voracious fingers,
Expertly gutted, this sanguine Earth;
Churned and burned,
Dexterously “developed” by
Newly-arrived Mammon.
The wisest and the most virtuous
Will mutate when the plundering
Is terrible enough. But
The hollow reed still sends
The soothing song, those
Ancient phrases of gratitude
To her who mothers no wrong,
Deep-sprung from empathetic entrails:
Heart and guts;
Crying lungs and a spleen full of wails.
Life-breathing spirits, not gods
Weave the song’s folds,
Weave dexterously and gently plough,
Expertly knead
Sun-soil into soul-song;
Spirits that search
For that dream-born seed
With a black’s
A black’s
A black’s
Umbilical reed.

The Tram

“Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
W. Shakespeare “As You Like It”

The tram runs like the exposed
Philosophers run and
Like the priests with their fallen faiths and like
Their acolytes and like the whores
And like the
Brain-blood of the
House-trapped house
Wives and of the boss
Owned husbands.

From the depots of oblivion
And back again.
The tram receives, as the boudoir’s
Cistern receives, thoughts of all sorts

And
Intentions from all directions and
Uncouthly, chunders them all out
Again, stop by stop,
All the way to the Depot.

“Move along the tram, please,
Move along please, there are
Others waiting to get on. Next stop
Oblivion!”

Cap askew and money bag glued to his
Belly, this chirpy
Conductor moves
Sideways up and down amongst
Pinned crabs.

And the tram runs on.



Man

And then the Sphinx, malevolent bitch of the path
Beautiful beyond Aphrodite’s beauty
Brought coyly her face tightly close to that of her man

And
Asked Oedipus,
He of the oozing foot,
A riddle, now a famous riddle

“Which creature” she asked, sex dribbling from her lush lips,
“has but one voice”
She repeated that clue, “has but one voice!
“but crawls on all fours
Under Dawn’s golden fingers
On two under Apollo’s warm rays
And
Three when Dawn and Apollo have left the heavens?”
She asked with a pernicious charm of face and voice.

And the idiot boy, young Swallenfoot,
With the confidence and the certainty of a philosopher,
But innocent yet of the ways of sphinxes and sex-hungry cats
Replied “Man!”

And then the Sphinx, malevolent bitch of the path
Beautiful beyond Aphrodite’s beauty
Defeated for once after so many eons of requited lust
Jumped over the mountain to her death
And that was that with that Sphinx.

But they were both wrong, the lusty bitch and the philosopher.

For the riddle should be,
“What behaves like a goat under Dawn’s golden fingers
Like a stallion under Apollo’s warm rays

And
Like a turtle, crawling very, very slowly and with great
And ponderous difficulty towards the edge
When Dawn and Apollo have left the heavens?

Now that, that sad creature, is Man
After his Sphinx has left him.

Visit me now!

Come, visit me now
Before Time’s next attack,
Before the mirror slides
Into pious rectitude and beyond my
Control.
It will become
Almighty then, not
In my own image but in its stubborn pursuit of
Verisimilitude.
Come before my lies become more numerous
And more embarrassing to all
Concerned.

Come, before the present totally recedes and I become
A pitiful suppliant to my memory,
Ever-begging her to recycle some of
The old thrills she holds so covetously.
Will she betray me then?

She can be very sadistic when she wants to be.
She will say “yes” but she will serve me only the
Small garnishings that went with the main events;
Titbits that are excruciating to behold
Come, before quotidian
Time chops off my legs and arms, making me
Incapable of pulling my own at the nocturnal
Yoke.

Come on,
Come visit me now!



The Warrigal Bitch

Let the Warrigal bitch sniff around
The dens of other warrigals,
Dear children, dear children.
Let the Warrigal bitch howl at the moon
And let out the pleasure-screams of insanity.
She’s mad, the bitch,
She’s mad!



Embryos

Thousands of embryos were simply pencilled off,
Ejected from the white-blank womb
Before Creation could take a good grip
Of their meaning.

Don’t hold me to my word, mother
Muse;
Their meaning is
More slippery than a Luna Park mirror.
And don’t tell anyone of this immense
Embryocide.

Believe me, these difficult words are still
Alive – or at least, floating in Elysium,
Somewhere at the back of my mind;
And I’m taking it easy with the alcohol
While I’m pregnant.

Once
I used to stay up ’till late with
Love making and wine worshipping;
Now I stay up creating embryos,
Which I then promptly cross off from
The lines.

One day I shall write a whole opera with
All these floating embryos at the back
Of my mind.

Enlightenment

Stained
On our church’s high window,
Young
Christ and His Mother,
Looked as if overwhelmed by
Apollo’s irreverent curiosity.
The New Testament and the
Old Myth fused in that church

And

Our Sunday teachers explained the Holy
Spirit -its ethereal properties,
Its role in the Holy Order and in the
Holy Trinity, its ability to reveal virtue humane
To the humans- while our
Daily school teachers explained how
Homer’s gods played
War
Games
Using mortals from Greece and Troy;
And it wasn’t until I came to Australia that
I had read Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’.

Fire in the Swamp

Selections and rejections brought me
To this path and
She played her part: that of a woman
Maddened by her virginity.
She played her part and I took this
Path and
Lo! I, too, was maddened by her virginity.

Prometheus brought her to me that
I may see his capacity and my way out of
A thick swamp that I had managed to get myself into
Again but,
For once,
Prometheus was wrong!
From the swamp I was driven to a field
Burning under a village sun and
I laboured hard cutting the yellow stalks
Of wheat under that metal sun
And my day’s triumph was crowned with
Rustic garlands weaved by the villagers
And with a young woman whose face opened my heart

But
Prometheus was wrong, just this once,
With his selection.

To be sincere, for a while
I enjoyed Pandora’s fiery glow
It lit my swamp and gave life to much that was
Encrusted by the weighty sludge of age
And I had thought at the time, that her rosy flesh was
Just what I needed

But then, the girl opened
Her mouth and spokeAnd that’s when I’d discovered that
Prometheus was wrong — just this once,
With his selection.



Valediction

Byzantine airs discovered
Our midnight path and,
Like sudden chills cut across it.
Religious mysteries, awesome maybes
And Time’s plangent tongues
Like lean, black-cloaked monks
With frenzy, web that path.
Neume! Neume! Neume!

The monks shake their heads
Like tolling bells, ringing
Questions and answers in monotones,
In maybes.
Neume! Neume! Neume!

Wails within some disturbing, raising,
Gregorian chant.
They web the path and
Trap your name within
Their incensed neumes —
Neume! Neume! Neume!

And soon, too hurriedly soon,
Your icon is buried, like a holy relic
Beneath intoxicating, spicy clouds.
Chilly the binary word
Neume! Neume! Neume!

That severed our binary path
And scattered the airy wafers
Of our communion.
Neume! Neume! Neume!

Chilly stopped the blood within
My binary heart —
Severed and seized.
Exquisite communion while it lasted.
Neume! Neume! Neume!
Worm Lovers

We squirmed under the sheets
Like two worms in a rush
To climb
To higher ground
To avoid this season’s
Floods.

Worms with arms and legs
And genitals
In a rush to beat these floods

And one could easily mistake us for
Cannibals,
Biting at each other’s flesh but never
Quite chewing nor satisfying this
Hunger that grips two people in lust.

Writhing in lust like two worms
Rushing to avoid the flood.

I hope you don’t smoke.
I hope you won’t light one of those filthy things
Afterwards,
After the panting has subsided — if you haven’t by
Then driven me into a coma — and then say:
“Ahhh, I needed that!”

I never know whether it’s the cigarette or my…
My what?
God, I hope you don’t smoke!


That There Hill

There’s a disturbing anachronism in
That there hill
And another thing
It speaks to me
Like the legs of a woman standing
“At ease.”

Time moved on a long time ago
Leaving behind the putrid smells
Of Time-departed.
But that’s just for me.

As for the hill, it grins with tidy
Smugness.
“The waves at my feet,” it says to me
“Will be my pilgrims for ever!”

Such were the legs that once walked
At ease with me and
Such was the smugness in her grin
At the waves of my heat.
Ho, ho! but my house has a new fragrance now!

Theme on a Canvas

Brush stroke hunted brush stroke
All day today
And I was behind the last one again
Crying.
From bristle’s thirst to bristle’s
Arrogant burst, the paint and the brush
Brush after brush, the flesh and the paint and
The brush, rushed from pallet to canvas
Pressing pigment into pigment, piling pigment upon
Pigment and
There,
Suddenly are mortared the sinews of the dream.

Hushed, still torches of ancient light and a
Vortex of flying fish
Trying to escape their element.

Cool sapphires humming to the beat
Of a warm day, this river humming,
This river, their element and mine and
There’s my renascence.

But the agile brush escapes my grip and
Here’s the foreground and the beat of
Your stream
And
Here’s the painted theme, the one theme I’ve been
Trying, all day, to avoid.

Your shadow appeared first, carved and burned
Into fragments by the torches of the forest;
Then your body and your body’s flesh,
Bright, young, lithe, like the morning
Fawn, grazing alone; alone,
To you, the sunlight and the torches belong.

Naked body which I, alone saw that
Dawn and, seeing it, seeing the running blood, seeing it
Running
Between the water and the splintered torches,
Like a child,
I began to cry.

Brush stroke has been chasing brush stroke
All day today,
All day.



Trap-veil over Trap-hearth

Tide and Moon swell slowly
And
Slowly the spider’s feet
Darn
The sticky trap-veil which I’d
Managed to damage
Recently. I didn’t know at the time,
Of course but
Friends
Told us in swelling courts and bulging
Affidavits and gurgling
Telephones that it was my fault
And
These cackling Furies
Should know: They had lived in our pockets
For years.
But nevermind that now,
The spider’s feet are healthy again, I see,
And they’re nearly done.
See?
The tear on the veil is invisible
And this gorgeous weave takes again
Its proper place
And the trap-hearth is set.
Clever feet these spiders have, full
Of insane creativity.
And I,
While
Tide and moon swell slowly
I
Darn the children’s socks.

Sediment

I’m too intense in my old age,
Too tightly coiled, they tell me.
I grip too desperately
At life’s final trinkets.
Everything’s trivial.
Gone is the impact of the small words,
Like “love” and
“Heart” and “soul” and
“I” and “You”

And
Gone is the impact of the
Whispers in the ear;
The secret sounds of the day
The scrumptious sights of the night.
Whispers, less audible than thoughts
More compelling than a girl’s first
Love-blush.
A barbarous death-wind
Makes me involuted

And
The whispers from the dryads in the woods,
From the nereids in the waters; from all
Those other sylphic beings of
The refined air
Can’t reach me now.
Sweet nothings are no longer
Sweet

And
(Listen to the way I talk, for goodness sake!)
Tastes no longer tantalise
Nor linger.

I want far more.
I’m too intense, they say, and
Too abrasive and
Too gauche and
Full of bombastic flummery, too full of the obscure, of the Nugatory, they say.
Too much in need of
Subtlety that lasts, I say!

And
My inner tongue wags
Too much against me, these days!
I’ve little time left
And none of grace.
“You’re incredibly gauche,”
A Peggy told me once; and
“You’re unbelievably impatient,
Why, we’ve only just met,”
Another Peggy said and
A Margaret told me once — I remember
Margaret for her peerless bottom-
“Relax, relax,” before she spun me into oblivion,

And
Then there was
An Anne who’d asked me:
“You’re too intense, why?”

I’m pouring out the sediment these days,
That’s why!
That’s all that’s left of life and love
And of all those other little words
That’s why!

That gorgeous heady dross has long been swept off
At the bacchanals and
The purity of things was drunk decorously
In charming, virgin restaurants,
Long ago — so little of it!

The sediment is all that’s left:
The soul’s little wounds.
That’s all that’s left,
That’s why!



Sanity

How feeble was your friendship!

The Great Bomb had gone off before I was born
But the explosion has yet to enter the discarded
Snake skin,
To enter and to calm the gurgling bowels of the snake skin.
You suspended the explosion and
All that destruction was but a gentle
Clap of a wave against the Titanic
And when your oxen-drawn cart rolls over
The cobbled stones of my village, you offer pardon
To the tongues
That slashed you out of my arms,
Severed your arms, Venus of Milo

Sanity, Sanity, Sanity!

Shouts the wooden cross
Sanity, Sanity, Sanity!

They knew not what they were saying and
They spoke with virtuous mud in their mouths,
Made with scented rain and the sparse
Soil of their hand-farms, virtuous arms swung
To evil gestures for
They knew not what they were doing
When they yanked you out of my arms.

Oh, incidentally,
The snake skin is still
Waiting for the
Explosion, so hurry up,
Sanity, Sanity, Sanity,

Hurry up, Sanity!

Anser Anserum

And when he finally turned
Quadraginta quinque anni with witnesses
And wine
And more witnesses and yet more wine

Sad all, sad all
Sad all
His eyes turned away from
Her face
Like the hands of the clock from the hour.

Ah, bona Hora fugit!

Cara Hora fugit
Like Argo from Colchis
With the fleece and the Princess aboard

Goose to geese
Anser anserum
As I stare sadly at the mirror though
Gilded yet its frame
And it is
Anser anserum
As I stare at the photograph, though
Proud yet the wretched camera of its precision
And
Anser anserum as I stare at the canvas though
The artist is yet famous.

This then will be the quinqennium of the goose
And the good dear hour has perished
Unnoticed
And no more the face and the flesh but
The goose and its feathers
Leaving his flock
For all eternity.

Midnight at a Singles’ Bar

I looked for the erogenous
Zone like the Israelites looked for manna
In the wilderness.
Searched for it everywhere:
At the upstairs bar
And on the dance floor,
Where the viscera of over 30’s quiver
In Death-Dawn’s aura.

Downstairs, where
A woman with exaggerated clown-face
Colours batters the atmosphere
This way and that,
her body mocking obesity.
Around the corner I looked,
Where the primrose wall is dripping with
Derelict lovers, more drunk by the
Fumes of the hunt than
By the enervated bar-spirits;

And the
Unanswered mating calls brew in their faces
Before they rise to the ceiling
And hang
There, trembling, like upside-
Down hyacinth blossoms.

No, this place is bereft of erogenous
Zones
Tonight: no shelter for Eros
No place to germinate.

And another woman makes a
Gesture
A
gesture which reveals that she too has
No style nor an erogenous
Zone.

Should I go now and try again within
The morrow’s midnight?
At least the waiters look happy.

But no, the noise-spinner introduces the
Hunt-song with a
Commentary which reveals that for too many
Midnights now he’s
Also been searching for an erogenous
Zone
A zone among these grey woods where hunt-wounds fester;
And he, the noise-spinner, is a professional hunter
Fully equipped with all the latest
Electronic bird enticers and
With every simulated
Mating call!
O, solo mio!
O, solo, solo, mio!

Prometheus

Prometheus,
Come to my aid! For
I know the pain you felt,
Chained on Tartarus’ icy splinters

An ancient, broad-winged black bird
Plunging its eager talons and its
Giant, shrieking beak
Into your entrails
By day, surgically
Wrenching them out
Inch by inch.

Plunging and wrenching
Plunging and wrenching
All day
All day, every day.

I know the pain you felt when you begged
The brilliant charioteer above
To fever his steeds,
At the quick of Dawn!

Lover of the wise light you were,
Hater of the day you became.

And the Moon goddess
To lengthen her visit,
At the quick of Dusk,
And to wipe the trembling scorpions
Off your belly

And to hold the flood
Of the putrid blood,
By night
By night, every night.

You were a dire Titan once
But then He, the god of gods turned you
Into an assaulted suppliant.
I know that pain well.

Eagle’s talons for the Titan;
Butterfly’s sublime feet for the
Human.
Every day and
Every night.

The Morning after on a Greek Beach

Apollo is dancing
On our bodies, stinging
The flesh,
Clouding the brain —
Body and brain
Still saturated with last night’s
Ouzo;

Like the black olives which you had
Marinated for a whole week in
Ouzo;

And the cicadas are arguing
Again; like the tourists do over the price of
Plaster statuettes of the Minotaur.

The sea is of no help either:
Pinned as we are on the sand,
This blue, fragrant oil remains
Exotically out of our reach.

Our
Spirits ascended too high
Last night.
Curse you and your love for
Ouzo!

The Odd Artist

This artist
Only paints single trees.
One tree, alone, at the
Bottom,
Left
Edge
Of a desert-white canvas.There is nothing else
On this life-large canvas.

One tree, alone, dressed with a sense of decorum
And moment.
Everyone says that this artist is
Odd.

And
If you look at this canvas
Long enough,
You can hear clearly,
First, the breezy sounds of a
Single flute, which is, closely followed by
A storm of belligerent trumpets
And trombones
And drums
And cellos
In a relentless pursuit of the breezy sound
Which, though overwhelmed,
Never dies.

And though the blankness of
The world-large canvas
Pushes the tree further and further into the
Bottom,
Left Edge, it
Never quite disappears.

This happens without fail
On all of this artist’s paintings.
Everyone says that these paintings are
Odd.



The Odd Photographer

My young cousin
Is a photographer who only
Takes depictions with texture,
Dimension with soul.
Colours with hearts

Even the inanimate victims of his
Preoccupation, like
Stones and folds of buildings, sacred
Channels of ancient masks and urns, all have
Texture, Dimension Souls and
Hearts.
Truly if not vacuously seminal.

So do all his animate victims, of course.
Not only dogs and cats and budgerigars but
People too.

Most importantly people too.
Smoothly convoluted dancers, tentative lovers,
Fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters (other people’s),
Cousins – first
Second and
Third, nieces,
Friends.
All equipped with
Texture,
Dimensions, souls and hearts.

But all are exposed
Dogmatically in
Black and white.

Seminal, because if you
Watch these photographs
Long enough,
They swell and
Tell of a cervical propensity towards
All
Animate and inanimate victims.

He took a series of well-measured
And well-bordered depictions of me recently
And now I, too, have texture,
Dimensions a soul and a heart.
Or, at least, my seminal portrait does.



Upon Homer’s Odysseus

What can a mortal poet do
But walk through the ever-burgeoning wood
And describe the fall of but a single leaf?

So,
I must woo the haze-born Muse to
Help me describe the path of this
One leaf that’s fallen from a proud tree.

Too proud that tree
Too proud the leaf that whirled through the
Wrath of this young sphere’s waters.

Tell, Muse, of the moods of these waters and
Of this fallen leaf.
Of that man who kneaded his wit with that of
Many men and learned their city’s turns.

Tell, Muse, of the man with the much-turned brain
And let him be the seed of your song.

After he defiled the sacred stones of Ilium’s
Lofty walls, Odysseus
Battered his spleen and his soul against
The Ocean’s murdering bones.

The man had thrashed all the sinews of his flesh
And the marrow of his bones
Against the curse-driven waves to save
His mates of war and of the pounding voyage maze.

But they, all with wit-empty skulls slaughtered
The Sun-blessed calves and this hunger crazed sin
Deprived them of their return home.

Muse!
Tell the story of this fallen leaf, Odysseus, their
Captain-King, beginning with whichever word you want.

You,
Zeus’ child, who knows the fate and the
Sentiments of all the leaves within the
Ever-burgeoning Woods.

Olive Grove Soil

And then,
With a graceful turbulence
You singed the pollen.

And then
The fingertips of my dream
Anchored you, a bobbing mermaid
In my waters for a while.

And then
The petals fell
Rain-like, yes-like.

And then
Came the nourishment
In rolling spurts of knowledge.
Sweet, bitter,
Sweet, bitter,
Sweet.

Dig a little,
Dig a
Little beneath the stony olive grove
Soil
And there you’ll find me.
My own fragments of clay amphorae
And other ancient vessels
The wine still in my nostrils,
Still ardent, still yes-wanting,
Still looking for your grace and your ardour.

And my spirit?
Omniscient!



Ruins

Middle twenties have transformed you into
A middle-aged dung beetle
Fluttering over revered
Cadavers
And
Deadbone-colored marble.

“Ruins,” you wrote
“Are just ruins” and quickly tightened your
Tourist money-belt and bounced off
To land on an orchid implanted between a pair of
Spanish thighs.

From Plato’s sun to
Plato’s cave.

You thought that old Aegeas, a sea now, Aegeas who had worked
Poseidon’s wrath against the ancient mariner,
Would spruce himself up
For you; smooth out all his wrinkles, pinch a new
Blueness on his cheeks and clean up the mountains of
Dung that a million dung-beetles like you
Drop into his soul every year.
Every year.

And you thought that Pericles of the golden mouth
Would shake Pheidias of the sublime fingers
Out of his sleep, to get up and
Meticulously toothbrush and dentalfloss the
Marble columns
For you.
Just for you!

That all the wise would gather ’round you
And make you feel like the young Christ
In the temple of God.

Would you have stayed then?
Would you have stayed there among them
Among the temple stones and the holy inventions
Eager to learn, eager to spread the learning,
To become what you once were: a pollenising breeze?

Go back young coz and learn to
Feel the flaming chill that
I once had felt when my
Fingers read the chiselled words upon
The Pheidian rocks,
Carved with spiritual beauty.

Go back and learn to feel.
Go back and learn.


Marble Seasons

I’ve spent most of the time
Spinning in the sealed barrel of
Turbulent sleep.

Narcotised passions, a muse-forsaken
Will and
Seas, furrowed deep by weird moon-
Movements, kneaded me slowly
But certainly into an
Undecipherable life pattern

And I haven’t touched a piece of
Marble all this time.

Through the crawling breaths of seasons
I was
Tossed into
One night and
Tossed out of another.

This land is good for lovers of sleep,
Loving sleep and burning lovers in sleep’s
Crimson turbulence.

No, I’ve done nothing significant since
Your last letter of a long time ago and
The candle’s wax drips only by habit and
In vain.

Oh, yes, I did plant two cherry trees
As you had asked once
And pruned hard the vine that knitted itself all
Through the pergola

All this
With a perfect air of
Profound despondency.

Gardens

I’m tired of tidying up the
Sunrays in
Your garden

And
if you ask me for
My sprinkler
Once more
I’ll scream!

It’s
My turn now
It’s my garden now,
It’s
My turn

But my garden faces the
Moon now

And
The healing butterflies have long ago
Turned into light-scavenging
Moths.



Goats

Goats once lowered their bearded
Jaws and dragged the land’s penury
Out into the open air
But we knew then where we were.

We lived on a poor land,
Nourished only by thin blood
And airy myths, hardly the stuff to
Feed the hungry multitudes!

Everywhere we dug
Our fingers would come up
Chipped and scratched white by the
Marbles
Which we then caressed and studied with
Reverence
And,
Once again, forgot our
Plaintive bellies.

There were only the thistles to be had and these
Belonged to the donkeys and to the
High sun.

My father now, hoe in hand, bows a little
And digs deep into my own, personal,
Vegetable garden and by High
Summer the salad will perfume my kitchen.
“There are no goats, no myths,
Nor any marbles here,” he says sadly
As he scrubs hard at the black, horse-
Manured soil stuck deep into his fingernails.

But no, he is not sad. Not really.
“We must have both” he says,
“One needs both, the myth and the tomatoes,
The hard marbles and the intoxicating fragrances of a garden”
And he brings his fingers to his nostrils with a smile.

Salmon Women

Then, like a river whose
Path was suddenly torn by Zeus himself
I plunged — arms and legs comically fluttering —
Into a skull-crushing void.

Years ago.

I take and
Am taken by
Women for remedial purposes only now
Which is to say for no purposes at all.

Cultivated nipples curl inside my chest
And move there like home-searching pink
Salmon.

Upwards against a torrent of hurled-away
Sighs
Searching for their home
Searching for
A home.

Perspectives, directions and body movements
No longer follow wisdom.
Some remedy this…
This sex business!

Some herbal tea,
My dear?



When the Salmon Women Left

I wondered for years what they were after,
These salmon women whose
Cultivated nipples searched my chest.

Whatever it was they hadn’t found it and so they
Left to look for it elsewhere.
Deeper chests, perhaps, or
wider hearts.

Feeble fish, these salmon women
Though salmon is anything but feeble.

Frightening,
Intense yet frivolous.

In love yet
Out of love
Sensitive and yet insensitive
Full of care as well as insouciant 
Frightening.

Dangerous.

I was glad they had gone
And left me all alone.

The Teacher

Unlike her colleagues’ eyes,
The bright eyes of this woman, her desk next to him
Perform with the wisdom
And the sensitivity of a professional
Soul charmer.
Like the eyes of poet
Or
A Surgeon

Or
A diva on the stage of an Opera
She teaches well.
She sees well
She hears well

She’d make a bed warm for her husband
In winter, you can tell that from her smiles
And
Her scent would refresh the most
Crumbled sheets and the most weary of husband-bones.
Anyone can see that.

My triptych would have her
Bowing reverently over swelling fields
Amidst Nature’s pure pleasures
Seeds, birds, brooks
And
Breezes that carry grateful peasant voices,
At Dawn
At Midday and
At Sunset.

By the hearth, in the evening, I can see her
Reading a book to her husband who, with his eyes
Fixed on a fire-blade that’s trying to escape the fire place,
Ponders tomorrow’s harvest.

And in the sacred conjugal bed at night,
Book-tired and soil-worn,
Obsequious sun-energy gone, asleep.

But this young woman is a teacher
And her fields are English and French
And
Ancient Greek
And Latin
And
History.

Earthy perspicacity in the furrows
Of an urban school.

Venus of the Streets
(Upon the death of a 15-year old student of mine)

Ah yes!
Ah yes!
Time rolls and Time crawls and
Time does as Time tolls for all the helots
Wrapped in the mouldy newspaper leaves,
In the menacing full-moon shadows, violet
Shadows of trees

And

In the steel curves of bridges, deep in this city’s
Carcass where these moths are hungry for light bulbs
And these melancholy cicadas find no homes,
Find not one home.

O Venus, my ultra-virtuous, my crazy moth!
The Devil’s got your ash now and
My dreams have your soul

And

Your phrases parade drunk one by one on Sleep’s
Etiolated fairy floss cinema screen.
Raw sugar crystals, your phrases
Raw marble crystals, as precious as the
Lost arms of Venus De
Milo the goddess who the present and the future
Man
Can only dream and scream about.

You screamed when your ultra-virtuous, crazy cicada
Turned to the turn of a scuttling
Scorpion in the desert and I,
In turn, screamed
When my ultra-virtuous, crazy moth turned
Into the drunken phrases parading in Sleep’s etiolated
Fairy-floss cinema screen.

Ah, yes!

Time sings her own songs, phrased
With unpredictable turns, ancient oracles
That baffled Calchas then and baffle me
Now.

Raw, raw crystals these phrases
Crackle and burn at the serpent’s discarded skin
Stuffed full with the chalky bones of the
Beggars and the buggers and the whores and the muggers

And

Mammon’s euphoric priests and Machiavelli’s
Phlegm-spitting acolytes.

See them all marching to the city, ready
For their chores!
I can see them all!

Oh, I had dreams, all right!
Where, as if driven by Calpurnia’s premonition,
I stuck your wings back on again, back on again,
and again and again. I would not let go!

Back on again though all of Caesar’s augurs
Couldn’t find the bird’s heart and
Your statue,
Venus of the Streets, would always turn this dream
Into the grotesque
Statue of Liberty, the stony flame above her arrogant,
Gold-loving head showing the way to
Helotry.

And

The raw, raw crystals are
Powder of white gold needling its way
Into the serpent’s discarded skin
Bulging it with percolating sweet mists of ecstasy
And Hate.

See how the sweet crystals dissolve
In the reptile’s eyes… see the hate…
I see it all
I see the hate.

They dissolve and as they do
They flipside all the buggers and the beggars
And Mammon’s euphoric priests into
Rich whores
And back again.

And the putrid newspaper mattresses turned into black,
Sex-perfumed and flesh-wooing silk
In brothels
And the madness into wild poetry full of
Enjambments and un-rhyming argot and therapy
And back again.

And flipsiding also the good, healthy, ultra-virtuous
Men like me, into bad, sick, poisonous scorpions
Who ought to be fighting the enemy, the enemy in the
Oily desert along with
The cicadas and the moths,
Triggering the smart bombs,
And the good, healthy, ultra-virtuous women
Like you into drunken phrases
That parade on Sleep’s etiolated fairy floss
Cinema screen… “come with me… kiss me… love me…
Take me now!”

And back again.

Words have the power to turn people
Into savages or angels -take your pick, take
Your own pick, make your own beast.

But the Numbers have won this game and so
You can’t take your pick, you can’t take
Your own pick of beast.

With a ding and a dong,
Little minds are enchanted and enslaved by
Numbers and by Neatness and by the present.

Big minds are enchanted and enslaved by
Chaos and by the Soul and by the eternal
Song
And the Numbers have won this Party
Game.

Poll after Poll the percentages and
Decimals won
Poll after Poll the usury goes
On
Poll after Poll the bells toll
On.

Ah yes!

The reel spins on and in this darkness
The flipsiding goes on.
It went on while Jokasta
Was giving birth to her lover and it goes on still,
Goes on still -look at you and me!
It’s the eleventh hour and all is well.

Ding Dong! It’s the crier’s bell.
Ding dong! It’s the night crier’s bell.
It’s the Party’s man
Or woman and
The papal
Encyclicals keep coming, keep making it tough
For the little boys and little girls that want to make
Love.

Veritatis Splendor!
Ding dong!
“Stop all that masturbation!”
The papal canon decrees and the
“Large Red Book of Bullies” in a Primary School
Frightens the little boys
Frightens them all
So “all is well” the crier cries on.

“The Party’s on,
Come and get your own,
Personally inscribed
Fascula!”

Ah yes, ah, yes!
Time’s bells peal with the joy
That we had felt in the moist fog that
Wraps our river, near, near where the river ends.
I had spat in Sleep’s eye and abandoned the bed
And I drove there that night,
There where the river ends
And you were there and
Time and fog had turned you
Into a song, humming through my strained cords,
Words that cooed and asked for love on the damp grass
Of our river’s banks…”come with me… kiss me… love me…
Take meeeee by the head
Now!”

Andante e staccato, con tremolo… piu tremolo!
For God’s sake, piu tremolo!
Έφτασααααααα!

And
“My body is my land, root it thoroughly and
Enjoy its fruit,”
You said but the Devil’s got your ash before
I got my chance
Because
At Dawn, Ms Arrester, the young cop on the beat,
Spun the pea in her whistle and told us to move on
Because
Mammon’s bells had begun to toll and the helots
Were marching to their spots:
“No corrupting the helots!”

Said the young cop -it wasn’t her fault,
She was only doing her own helot-chore,
So we put an end to the
Tugging of our own bell’s cords and we moved on,
We moved on.

We moved on and with the moving, you broke
The cord and were
Lost for eon-long nights and more,
More bells toll, toll, toll,
Toll the vacancy in my soul, your home, now a derelict
Mud-cavern, cracking in the wasted
Sun-rays, derelict clay and disturbed dust on the floor
Where
The winds found a hollow in that dust
Where
They spin and billow the mouldy
Newspaper blankets off the backs of the bridge drunks.

See the headlines pillowing the drunks’ heads?
“Veritatis Splendor!” and
“Big Red Book of
Bullies Frightens Little Boys in Primary School!”
Say the Papal
Canons
and the little school
Principal’s
Canons.

It baffled Calchas then and
Baffles me now how easily we commit hubris,
O, my Venus of the Streets.
O, my Venus!

I saw the boat slide through the fog
And you at the rails sliding along,
Away from where our river ends
To be lost in the moist fog of the vast ocean
Of fire.

It baffled Calchas then and it
Baffles me now how deep that fog was
And
I’ve often asked the fog,
Why wouldn’t Agamemnon, leader of all
The armies of Greece, enough men to fill a thousand
Ships, give back Chryseis and why did his brother,
Menelaos of the fair locks, leader of the Spartan
Force
Bring this great
Force
There, so far, there,
On the swarthy shores of Ilium for the sake
Of a woman, made lunatic by her own beauty.

And why did Odysseus, king of the fairest isle,
Suffer a decade of war and a decade more on the
Swarthy water to get back to a wife now twenty years
Older?

Calchas was baffled then and I am baffled now
By the parading phrases.

Oh, I had dreams, all right!
All scattered by Dawn, all lifted by Dawn
As Dawn scatters her rays on her own
Horizon, as Dawn lifts her rays from her own
Horizon, all dreams, sweet and gratifying and bizarre
Years and years of them and more,

Such dreams had baffled Calchas
And baffle me more
Scattered all, scarring the soul, severing the arms from
The body
Like the executioner’s axe severs
The marrow
From the bone, scarring the soul
Like the sun’s swords scar the clay landscape
That lies, planet-wide between us.

Your words are now whispered deep into my ears by
The beggars and the muggers and shouted at me
By Mammon’s euphoric priests and
Machiavelli’s phlegm-spitting acolytes and
Turned into gurgling
Images by the needled eyes of the street-seraphims.

Zip-zap, zip-zap!
Electric shocks in the head tell me that you’re alive
And on your way back,
Venus-of-the Streets
And the bells peal the joy of your return
Voices deep in my head
Hosanna!

I’ll plant
I’ll plant
I’ll plant
A thousand hosts along your return’s way
A thousand torches like those watched
Earnestly by Klytaemestra’s slave
Night and day.
Night and day for a decade and more.

And on your way, sweet Venus,
You’ll go past them,
Past that spot in the desert where
Alexander, the great child, found a helmetful of
Water, a multitude of parched soldiers at his back
Weary with war and
Their souls, by now, accustomed to the hovering
Between worlds,
between worlds,
between worlds,

And their throats more accustomed to thick wine
Than to thirst, like the diesel truck to the
Gas
And the melancholy cicada to a leafy home.

They saw him tip the helmet over and the water was sucked
Urgently by deep ravines of
Sand.

Think of it, Venus, and feel my thirst, equal to
The thirst of that multitude of soldiers.
And don’t pay heed to the subterranean
Troglodytes who don’t speak the language of Homo-
Sapiens but that of mindless and heartless reptiles
And live, like the reptiles, in the wet
Caverns beneath the Earth, dark and cold and there,
Upon mouldy newspapers, under the steel curves of bridges,
Eat the carcasses of their own.

But you, Venus of my Streets, continue on your way,
Cross the hard desert that waits upon the
Flowing procession of the winds and of
The hungry carrion birds
And soon you will come to Poseidon’s wet domain,
The greatest on this spinning planet.

Θάλαττα! Θάλαττα!
The sea, the sea, the great,
Oh the Great sea!

Read Xenophon’sAnabasisfor a quick thrill

And
Don’t ignore the small statue of
Beethoven. It’s true he talked with
Death but then he went on to feed many orchestras
With Schiller’s divine words:
“And ’tis Joy that moves the pinion,
When the wheel of Time goes ’round.”
O, song of joy!

Think of it sweet Venus! Death and joy can live
Happily in the soul
Of one man, as you live in mine
But never mind the man,
Hear the composer, and see how
The white sugar crystals still dissolve in his
Sliding eyes.

Nor let Time make timid your intent but
Go on, go on, come on!
Pick up your own
Lyre and pluck your own
Song,
The song of
Woe

The song that told Xerxes of his own devastation.
Those Greeks
Could not be trusted even to stay dead!
Those Greeks of Homer!
And Virgil!
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

Hahahaha!
What a joker that Roman was!

Think of that song,
Venus of the Streets, think of that endless woe!

The greatest army against a handful of villagers came,
Beaten,
And gone
And this baffled Calchas then and gave
Xerxes much
Woe.

Think of that endless woe!

And of that
Army’s thirst and think how I live in
This carcass now where
You and I were born, and torn,
Torn, our swaddles
Torn our swaddles!

And come, come now before the next stop!
“Move along, please!
Next stop,Lobotomy!
Aaaaaall’s well!”

This is the age of the sirens and of the bells that
Toll,
The burning siren and the chilling toll,
Venus of the Streets I love your eternal
Song.

Helen of Palestine

No Writer’s quill, nor pen, nor yet a modern keyboard, had he even the skill of
blind Homer

No Artist’s brush, nor charcoal, nor palette knife, no paint, be they the tools
of Hephaistus,
No Sculptor’s chisel nor hammer, had he even the unfailing hands of
Pheidias

No Composer’s note, had he even the divine skill and words of
Orpheus.

Oh, Iphigeneia, how you made me cry when you called for his help
as you grasped your father’s knees.
“If only I could sing like Orpheus, father!”
you said and my heart gushed with the tears and the anger of this father!

No Singer’s throat, had he even the throat of the Sirens of
Odysseus.

No piper, had he at his lips even Pan’s bewitching pipes
No poet, had he even the lover’s soul of the heart-crushed
Sappho,

Could bring you to me, Helen, as easily as Aphrodite,
had once brought you deep into the arms of a barbarian
Prince.
Aphrodite, that vindictive, jealous whore-goddess,
A true whore-goddess, too proud of her beauty,
Too murderous with it.
Certainly not her!

Not you, Helen, my Helen, not in body,
nor you, Helen my Helen not in soul,
nor yet you, Helen, my Helen, as you were a naked child
the naked child once surrounded by the sweet sounds of birds
and family and the bliss of love.

It is the rubble of the bombed houses
and the burned houses and the scorched earth below your feet,
bombed and burned by the colonising savages.

Your mother, Leda would swim in
the crystal waters of that there river,
in the pure waters, the divine waters that purified the soul.
And it was there where, one day
she gave comfort and warm harbor to a frightened swan
chased by an eagle – or so it said, chased by an eagle.

And then you were born.
You and your sister and your two brothers
Castor and Polydeuces who are
now looking down upon all mortals from the sky.
There! Up there, see there?

No, silly, not there!
There, deep into the Northern sky!

Not one of these poets could bring you to me now, Helen,

They said that you have the face!
The face!
A face that can launch a thousand ships, one of them said!
They say nothing else about you, Helen.
Nothing else.
You are just that. A face!

They do not see beyond it.
Paris and Aphrodite could not see beyond it.
Priam did. The king of Barbarian Troy could see and so could I,
the pauper of civilised Sparta could see beyond it.
We see and we know of what you are truly made, Helen, my Helen.
We see what this beautiful face masks,
What it protects.

And the bombs and the bullets and the poisons are exploding
all around and everywhere you, Helen, my Helen,

a baby in your arms, Helen, its eyes, like yours
bulge with terror in its wildest form
a tremulous sheet of tears covering her face and yours
tears of pain and confusion, trying to crush her beauty, your beauty,
Helen, my Helen.
Barbarians hate beauty.
Your sort of beauty, Helen.
Honest, real, born out of virtue.

This is no Sparta, Helen.
This is not your home, now.
Some brutal god has passed it on to a tribe of savages that have come from
the darkest depths of some religious jungle.
The Wildest of all jungles
The worst of the worst jungles,

to use the phrase of an American vice President

Savages with an insatiable greed for your home
An unquenchable thirst for your blood
An incurable love for the sounds of pain
A eagerness to build mountains of blood and gore
A relentless gathering of the stench of mounting carcasses.
Not the smell of animal sacrifices to the gods but the
murder, the mass murder of mortals.
Murdered like Odysseus’ men murdered Helios’ cattle.

Some bastard god, some charlatan god has given it to
charlatan savages.
Cowardly savages protecting their savagery
and their cowardice with impenetrable
iron and stony hearts.

Once you slapped one of those savages on the face and his
clan, his whole clan praised the cowardice of that savage.

No sweet artistry could ever bring you back to your Ancient Sparta now
Helen, my Helen.
Not to your Ancient Home, the gorgeous city
under the marble feet of Mt Taygetos.

None!



Oh, Death!

Oh, Death!
How marvelously you inspire!
What a competent and dire muse you are!

It is to you, Death that Homer turned
As he began the epic that most appalled
And burned to cinders the tall towers of Ilium!

It is to you that the English bard did turn
And so did all the other bards, new and old
And poets of songs
And of words that actors say
As they tread upon the roughly hewn boards
Of life’s stage.

It is to you, Death, that they all stretch out
Their plaintive urn
Begging for help, beggars of words that swell
And rush about within their hearts, words
That make them move and laugh and ache.

Death!
Oh Death!
Who you, it is who removes all men’s tentative breath
And have all men, brave and good
Bend their knee in fear and in awe of you
From cot and crib to horse’s gallop

And to the battle’s bloody flow and flood

To you, o, Death man turns
To ease unyielding pains
Of soul and body, of heart and head.

How broad beneath our feet is your awesome shire!
Oh Death!



Anchor the Busy Shadows
(On Plato’s ‘Myth of Er’)

Anchor the busy shadows to the
Nether mud and
Turn the spindle once again
But
This time
This time let
Me
Choose my lot and let
Me
Read it in my own chest.
Fates within fates have lowered
The aged web of life’s flame and
Lowered too the pitch of their
Single note — see how smugly they sit
Upon their cup’s lips!

Cup within cup
And
Celestial ring within celestial
Ring,
All turn within the spindle of
Necessity
In the Under-
World and the shadows rush for
Their lot.
Stop!

And now flick the spindle once again but
This time
This time let
Me choose my own lot.

And so, once again I see

And so,
Once again I see
The furry stalks of poppies bend.

Slender, single, as feeble and crooked
As memory, as die-hard and humbling
As memory.

Down and around, in tune with Earth’s
Every breath, with Spring’s
Every whim, they bend, they dance.

Delicious ears, soaked by
Hair that soaks the blood of Daylight.

Blood through which once
My hand chanced to travel.

Poppies that have seen the
Rainbow’s desire swell and rise
To mate with the drying sky.

Silent lips that have brought too many
Echos into the hollows of our irony.
These are the
Poppies that have gladly mattressed the
Beds of one-season lovers, of
Rushing, extravagant lovers, of
Spring-pricked, hope-stung lovers, of
Feeble and die-hard lovers and which
Cushioned the small, bare feet of children and
Drew the deep, grave prints of soldiers’ boots and
The elegant hooves of the obsequious oxen
And mules.

And which
Pampered the children and
Shrouded the soldiers red and
Fed the oxen and the mules.

This field of poppies is enamoured by the past
And by
The future but
Paints indelibly the present.
No regret, no hope.

Smug eyes, these poppies,
Smug eyes that have known me whole
From hair’s tip to
Soul’s every disassembling,
Discordant turn and twist
(Here’s a dancer with two left feet!)

Known me whole during one whole season.
In my bed and in my muse’s field
In ebbing sleep
And
In the stream of the day-rituals
Of pain and boredom and grief and of
The madness of regret.
(Does a brook dare regret its passage?)

Smug eyes!
There the flower.
There the poppy’s suspended, sublime fire.
There the daylight’s blood.There the happy past and there,
There is no hope.
Poppies that have felt Dawn’s pure jewels
And adorned them
And then
Felt them gone.

Flibbetigibets in the Ashes

Another Winter had come and gone
Never, thank heavens, to come and go again. It was
worse than all the other Winters that have
Neared my home before, Winters that have pinned me
close upon my hearth’s dear
Fire.

Endless
I thought, this Winter would have been, its icy
Oars smugly hitting the waves
adding to their anger’s
Rhyme.
Endless
it seemed, until a woman’s voice,
Oh, a woman’s
cherry-sweet voice,
Announced Spring’s
adorning again!

Never again
will that Winter shroud my hearth,
Never will I despair before its dead ashes!
Under her splendid wings this woman had
A different warmth,
A fire without ashes
And out of their deep myths she let out the
Elves and hobgoblins
That now whizz about. She
Opened the doors for
All the imps and sprites and leprechauns
And
She replenished the air with all the
pigwidgeons and
flibbetigibets.
All erupting through the ashes!
Winter with all his bitter hell is no more!



Asphodel-Daffodil

Cry with a clear voice
My asphodel,
Daffodil
Dapper little daffodil that you are
And here’s to you a blessing
From a grey-gold man afar.

Once there was wheat aplenty
And corn enough to make a
Winnow sing and once there were
Males aplenty, guiding the heavy
Ox-hooves to the threshing ring.

And there, among the obsequious
Oxen and the earth-lads I have seen
Oh, I’ve seen what I’ve seen with
My young eyes I’ve seen!

Sprightly marble bodies once filled
My Grecian scene.

Dapper little daffodil, asphodel
That you are, stand you now dapper in
A dead bronze lantern among the
Dead avant-garde
Of my mantel piece.

Getting up in the morning I’d say,
“Today I shall play among the straws of
The Earth and the Sun”
To my grandfather, and he’d suck me into his arms:
“Aye, that way to Heaven, go play in the sun,
Dapper little daffodil that you are!”

There goes Ikaros!
There flies Ikaros!
There glides Ikaros across the sky
Near, too near the Sun!

Hands?
Hands deep in bees-wax, and
Feet?
Feet deep in slimy sea-scum
Sun-dried
Sun-drained
Fallen down and
Sea-drowned.

There goes Ikaros
Gored by the sun,
The master-mason’s son!

Trying, see him trying, with his right-angle
Staff, to measure (down to an ox-hoof) the
Awesome symmetry, the blissful symmetry of
My front yard,
My well-rounded day and all
The beats of my heart!

We’d sing this song all day!
Svelte sinews of wheat-gold, spinning
Sinews of even planets, calm sinews of
My river’s easy ripples, subtle sinews of
Marbles beneath the ancient soil and above.

These are the sinews of the blessing of that
Grey-gold old man afar.

Aplenty, aplenty, not so long ago
Aplenty, aplenty, the maidens and the
Gorgeous lads, aplenty the
Babies around me, aplenty the old folk
And only but a small pinch of decades
A click-clack of Time’s broad oars.

Aplenty then the water of this town’s well.
Glamorous Earth, glamorous men and women
Splendid in face and heart.

Glamorous the aged and the not,
United with one blessing, one lust all.
Furrows dug deep in the worm-rich and scent-rich
Soil and
Furrows above the brows of the lads
And the girls, and furrows deep in their groin.

Aplenty, aplenty the gods in their deep-furrowed
Groin.

“Is this the way to Heaven, old man?”
“Aye, that way to Heaven and here’s my
Blessing, the blessing of a grey-gold old man.
Not that of Ulysses, mind; shrewd bastard of the sea,
But that of a grey-gold old man, whose love is sky-Deep.”

Oh, grandfather, grandfather!
“Aye, that way to Heaven my darling son’s son,
Remember my grandson, what a daffodil you are!”

Then,
Thumb and third finger touching, raised
Through the raised window for the morning
Blessing, he made the sign of the cross in
The air above the whole village
And I,
I am that silly asphodel standing awkward in
A dead bronze lantern among the dead avant-garde.
Asphodel
Daffodil, Asphodel
Daffodil, Oh, Asphodel, Daffodil!

Deaf is the corn’s ear.
Deaf is the wheat’s ear.
Deaf is the mule’s ear,
And all the marbles are dug out.

What The Priest Saw

The village
Eased the rhythm of its harvest
Whenever my grandfather spread
His tremulous voice
All over the scented fields.

A good priest, bedridden with asthma.
Every Sun-peasant stopped, wiped the
Coarse trickles of earth-sweat off his forehead and
Watched the summer birds swoop
Around the loudspeakers
Trying to get deep into its iron
Mouth.

The army had
Erected these new devices
After the War,
All over the fields
“For the purposes of peace-time exercises.”

The colonel, an abbreviated man,
Walked into my grandfather’s
Bedroom
Every noon, and,
Reverence curling his shoulders,
Asked the priest to “test the microphone.”

Neither he nor any of his soldiers
Was brave enough to test this new thing’s
Awesome power.

My friends and I then, would take
An earthen jug of spring-water, some cheese
Made from the frothy milk of our four goats and some
Onions and ran up,
In my grandfather’s hayloft, or
By the banks of the childish river where
The air, filled with his voice,
Transformed us into
Subtle men of the
Old Testament.

Once a young corporal lifted me
Out from the hayloft’s window and
Took me to my grandfather’s bedroom
To blend my yet unbroken voice with that
Of the good priest’s Byzantine tones.
Oh, grandfather!

My young friends crossed themselves in awe.
One thousand lions
Stirred gracefully in the old shaman’s
Grey, wispy silk as
He pulled me deep into his sun-flooded
Arms.

He wore the cassock
Like royal regalia.

And my grandmother kissed me on the forehead
And whispered that she wished my parents were there
To hear me.

We sang Byzantine chants
That my parents later heard about
In the big city,
The city of many new devices.

Oh, grandfather, my grandfather!

Birth Rush

Blunt echoes the hips of over-
Garnished teenagers on the old
Rock ‘n Roll floor
And the stinging shouts of
Bosses and bureaucrat louts have
Returned, like all things return,
To their birth place.

And I like stewed fruit,
Slowly simmered for ever
With sugar and not-too-dear
Champers,
In a billy,
Over a swaggie’s fire.

And silky cream
And strong black coffee for
Breakfast.

Cool creeks, greened and scented by
Eucalypts vocalise my new
Birth and my ears search for the
Sounds of aboriginal myths and birds,
My eyes read the barks of old trunks and
My fingers, my heart’s tentacles
Tease the earth looking for the plot with
The most sumptuous soil.

There are no Pheidian marbles nor ostraca here,
Dear parents, and
The photographs have
Lost their voices long ago.

With my dusk’s wine
The blunt echoes
Assemble the stars to draw some familiar
Love-scene.
Just like that, they do it, easily,
Out of the dark blue,
Sharply but without the fury.
Above my skin float the curly talons.
A last gush of birth
Before Hell’s ravens get on with it.



The Brigitte Quartet

  1. Brigitte in the Forest

Like the eyes of a wolf that snarls
Hungrily
In a vampire’s forest
Two questions tighten my heart,
Brigitte:
Will last night’s torment
Be repeated?

And
Will last night’s torrential ecstasy
Be repeated?

And,
Like Vesuvius, brooding in Pompeii’s crimson
These eyes assemble my sins
Against Eros,
The god who brings transcendental
Bliss in bed.

Goddess
Goddess
I need to hear your imperatives once more
“I want you to screw it, Mike,
Screw it!”

Or,
“Love it, hate it, DO
Something with it,
Mike!”

And,
“Get me to my destination, Mike!”

And,
“Don’t tell anyone at work!”

Let it be known:
I hate Lady M for having taught me that
Creativity’s well is despair.
Five minutes with her and you’d know
She was playing her usual treacherous game.

She was deceitful, and worse, she’s
A hypocrite, the squealing bitch-on-heat!
Despair is a dry well and
Creativity is drawn out of a bed and
You were in mine and I was creative then,
Only then!

Not now!
“Get me to my destination, Mike!”
And other such commandments
Untangled me out of the night’s urgent
Whirlpool, like the voluptuous stench of a
Brothel on fire and turned me into an ardent seed

Thrashing frantically to create.
“I would have got there had you not touched
My lips with your fingers as we were screwing!”
And,
“I would have come, had you not been
Looking into
My eyes while we were screwing!”
And,
“If you get me to my destination I’ll do it,
And I’ll do more
I’ll do all those things
You want me to do!”
(Getting to her destination,
To Brigitte, is
Psychologically, she says, very important!)

It’s a cold forest, Brigitte,
And desperate the snarl in the wolf’s belly.
Brigitte,

You’re a tormenting miracle!
Come, pearl-of-the-bed!
I won’t tell anyone at work.

  1. Brigitte in the Well

My bed has become a well of dreams
Recently
And sometimes the hands of a benevolent wise man
Guide me from behind
And sometimes the hands of a malevolent wizard
Force me from behind.

And sometimes, from behind,
Paganini gently stirs,
Gently stirs my fluids

And sometimes Wagner
Ploughs them into icy clods,
As I approach this village well.

And when I bend over its wide red-stone lips
My right hand resting next to a truss of golden Marguerites,
Indolently animated, askew of Nature’s canons, and
My chin upon the index finger of my left hand
Sometimes I see the puzzle-pieces of my own face
Superimposed over yours, or yours over mine

And sometimes the pieces mingle
Upon the tranquil surface
And often the blobs are blood-red
And often the fine webs are jealousy-yellow
And often I want to jump into the well
And mingle
Violently with the bloody blobs and with the
Jealousy webs and
Shout
Until my vocal cords become too taut
To vocalise
Always:
“Come back, Brigitte!”

  1. Brigitte in my Glass

Tonight
I’ve managed to squeeze out yet another glass
Out of this cask of unhelpful wine.

Red, fruity, Shiraz
That percolates my melancholy
And your consuming scents.

I remember the bright afternoon when
The sun perambulated lazily on the lips
Of our glasses.

That was a
Better wine, that one
Red, French and a little musky
That percolated my joy
At your promises of eternal company.

I drink in atavistic darkness
These days
To facilitate the visits of
Your ghost
And to dismiss the light’s
Unhelpful forms and utterances.

I remember how difficult it was
To open that little oyster,
With my bare desire.

The ocean waters and smells filled
Me to the brim.
I had put the little bead in my mouth and
Threw the oyster and its home away.
Stupid man!

I pay and pay for this mistake, Brigitte,
As I drink
Profusely, in
Atavistic darkness.

  1. Brigitte in my Bath

Suddenly
I’ve developed a pain across
My left shoulder.
A tiger’s heavy paws
Rushing for the kill,
Her claws out,
Stomping all along from
The base of the neck all the way to right inside the
Ball of sinews from where my arm begins.

Mysterious, diabolical, inexplicable
Pain
Penetrating and engaging,
Demanding much attention which I must
Acknowledge by rubbing angrily my fingertips
Into the bare skin.

Stupid old pain
Which others get in the chest-
Where the soul and the body meet
A spot that they must rub angrily
With their fingertips.

Others,
Who have lived through a similar
Concatenation of night-desires,
Others who have lost themselves in the same rivulets of
An inguinal dream.

Or,
It’s like a thick, tight wire of steel
That suddenly springs taut
When the funambulist
Ends her trick.

Sometimes
My eyes are frightened shut by an invasion of
Sparkling stars within an ever-
Tightening firmament.

I fill my bath with myriads of virgin
Pearls
With the aroma of musk
And with therapeutic salts
Before I sink into it,
My left shoulder last.

But still the pain comes and the pain persists,
Calling back the anger.

And I sleep badly these days too.

And it’s true
The greyness and the wrinkles

And the bitter phlegm in my eyes
Become ever more obvious.

Still, must this horrible pain be so
Excruciating? And
How long
Will it last?

How long will it last?

I hate women who have only one expertise
To dexterously knit
Pullovers for their relatives
Whilst they are prodigiously making love.

Mothers of insouciance.

And
I hate love,
The most insidiously debilitating…
Thing!



Allegro Vivace

Your house is too far for me now
Too far for my shattered knees
And for my less tenacious will.

Oh, ho, but I make a plucky start
My lover!
Every morning,
Full of bravado.

“Allegro!” once I’d command the swanky rhododendrons
Along your path
And mine.

“Allegro, vivace! To my love’s abode!”
And quickly and with lusty violins
In the sweeping, Dionysian breeze
They’d play the prelude
For a Pastorale Fantasia
And in an instant I’d be there!

My night’s discordant fantasies
Give me the morning bravado but,
I barely make it to
The rhododendrons now.

The young, welcoming breeze
Is now an old cantankerous chill
Attacking with the force of a dragon’s nostrils.

My spine becomes your quaver
To use at your capriccio’s need.
Oh, and the violins sound too ravenous now.

So I turn back
Angry at my night.
All bravado,
All bravado but
No performance
To match your inconsonant cackle.



Butterfly

Limbo-hild before her arrival,
I wondered in the cold hollow
Of blank, blank pages
Particles of a demanding stillness.

Like ringing in one’s ears.
Virgin leaf after virgin leaf
I desterilised with thought potions
Veined by dictionary words,
Which I chose as I choose the dead
Pricetags on the supermarket shelves.

Then I’d throw the leaves each and all
Over my head,
Angry at the Muse for rejecting my adjurations,
For leaving me alone with my tortuous passions,
For forbidding me to feel the pulse and the
Purpose of my lung’s puff

Or
its cause.

I was imparadised suddenly. Sometime
Between mothrise and moondescent,
During the silky crackle of an opening cocoon,
A slowly opening crackle
Between one of her verses and another
As they emerged
From her bedfire.

I was crumbled,
Torn from my hollow,
Squeezed within the folds of this silky
Cocoon until the red light drained out
And then cast into her paradise,
Pinned amidst her fevered verse-sighs.

In bed she said,
”Look at me!” and,
“Don’t be so metaphysical!” and
“Don’t be so meta- so…quasi!
Look at ME!”

With wild elegance she paced around me
Kicking the crumbled thought-leaves
Here and there until,
Out of this airy chaos they came
To settle around her form,
Orderly around her form.

“For goodness’ sake!” She’d shout!
“Stop talking, stop… philosophising while we’re making love!
Was Plato and Aristotle and Homer and Virgil like you?
For goodness’ sake!”

Her name was Brigitte but this woman was
Menelaos’ wife. Helen of Sparta.
Helen of Troy.
In my bed. In our bed.
And there was no Paris around.

Yet, there I was, being the idiot professor preparing for his lecture
The next day, his mind absent of the here and the now.

Cassandra

Dare we anger the man-gods, sisters?
Their wrath will hurl the soul into oblivion,
Their punishment will tantalise Hades.

Now the tongues of once-solid Ilium are more
Incomprehensible than this woman’s tongue,
Who speaks with Apollo’s gift-punishment.
Svelte flames wrap their crimson heat
Around her cheeks,
Her ears, her hair; burning them,
Burning the meaning
Of the clamoring, coarse utterances
Of the women and of the children; the meaning
Of the men’s heroic death-sighs; the meaning
Of the lofty towers’ cries as they crash.

O, their tongues, good sisters, their tongues!
Once these women used their tongues to whisper
Medicinal words, to humble the chests of their man-gods.
Once, this woman dared to use her tongue
To say “no” to her lofty man-god;
Whom she served obediently and faithfully and
Kept his home-temple serviced and well-adorned with
Fine cloth of linen.

But his veins became turbulent when,
When but a child-virgin she dared.

The wooden steed, a death-belly of
Writhing men, a death-wound that
Billowed before it burst,
To spill the death-men out,
Is still looking proud, looking proud, down
Upon its vile accomplishment.

Still looking proud upon the hissing man-reptiles:
Once a proud king with fifty proud sons
And as many proud daughters;
And, down upon a tumbling city:
Troy that once was full of man-pride.

For each and everyone of us, sisters,
There’s an Apollo,
Master of the sky-flames and Lord of the
Plague-bearing rats,
Whose wrath severs the tongue from the wit;
and a Locrian Ajax, whose own mortal wrath
Violates the body.

One man-god spawled into her mouth,
The other -a warrior- into her womb and,
Wit and tongue now, each alone, ramble.

Herbs, in a wrath-busy desert.

Violation is the affair of man-gods.
Dare we anger the man-gods, sisters?

Wives and mothers, sisters, next to the torn
Corpses, amidst the gashing flames
Tear the warning from their throats:
“Beware of the gifts of man-gods!”

Dare we say “no?”
Dare we say “yes” to the death-gods, sisters?
The proud man-victors reaped again
A plentiful woman-harvest.
Again.

Cauldrons

Cauldrons within cauldrons
Within more cauldrons still,
Spin in opposite directions
Yet our families have been friends for eons.

Their gates faced each other across a
Muddy path.
Your father played a reedy instrument and
Mine, my father played the three-stringed Pontian lyra
and you and I, Brigitte,
Danced.

And while, in the myrtle-scented air, you
Carried a sweaty urn on your shoulder, the urn’s
Edges softened by your thick silken plaits, I carried
Hay stacks to the stable.

Our mothers baked their bread in the clay oven which your
Grandfather had built
And behind your house stood fierce the tall
Mountain where Artemis roamed
With her hounds and from where the
Whines of the hungry wolves
Rushed about to chill the bliss in our marrow.

Then, suddenly, like Spartan Helen,
They took you away
“To the other end of the world,” the adults
Had told me
“Australia!”

Australia? Where on Earth is that? I’d ask
And why? Who? and When?
And then,
Like Spartan Menelaos,
I climbed aboard a ship
And followed the lights of the Southern
Cross.

Dreams within dreams
Within dreams
Spin in opposite directions and
They’ve beenspinning like this for
Over thirty years

And
The muddy path still separates us, Brigitte!



Classroom Rites

Shy as the young shoots that
Move the showered dust
And leave the earthy womb
To climb the air’s silent mast
My thoughts
Stirred and order themselves within my mind’s
Confines.

There they pressed and strained
And hovered silently,
Naked and yet unmade
Before
I spoke
And thus concerned the
Air within my lesson’s hour

And
There! Within that hour
The sun lifted the green shoot
Gave it a swelling stem, some well scented petals,
Swaying leaves and some wholesome fruit that
Nourish both
Earth’s womb and Earth’s rife
Dust.

Dust to dust and
Foetus to dust and in
Between the ever-ripening fruit whose colour
Brightens by
Apollo’s radiant tune.

Oh, Niki!
Oh, Niki!

Chalk dust to green shoot and
Clayed dust to humor and in
Between
The thoughts that multiply
By fertility chants
Of lusty delights and
Of classroom unquiet rites.
And
I see that this year’s harvest
Is plentiful, thanks to the
Sun’s radiant grace
But there’s no Brigitte!



Two Questions They Always Ask After The Event

  1. How was I?

And then, after you drew deeply into
That stupid substitute and let the
Smoke slowly creep out of your nostrils
To smudge your face,
You asked,
“How was I?”

You were like the anxious express train
That leaves this city’s tube at 6.02 am
Precisely.

Commuters are always caught stranded by
Its anxiety and urgency and even before they shut the
Doors behind them they hear,
“All aboard!” and
Off you go!

Chugging through station after station
Non-stop and breathless.
The kitchen,
The lounge,
The dining room,
The bathroom,
The front garden,
The back garden,
On the floor,
Halfway up the wall (your
Screams distracting the
Astronauts from their stellar duties),
On the table, your legs straddling the kitchen sink,

And,
Outside, under the pergola (late into the night now)
Your fire attracting the moths
Chug-chug
Chug-a-lug, chug

And
My grip on the straps of reality
Is slipping fast.

Chug-chug
Chug before we finally reach the
Bed and I’m screaming with anxiety because
I’m still in the kitchen
And
I think that I’ve missed the bus that takes me to
This city’s tube, Again!

Chug-chug, chug-a-lug, chug!
Off you go!
That’s how you were –
Satisfied now?

  1. Have I a good figure?

I parked my imagination
One metre in front
Of your window and let it
Rip.

Voyeurs drool over sights like these
And
I am no exception.
Beneath your whorish expression
I see
Your breasts stay firm and
Defiantly against gravity even
After you’ve removed your folded arms
From under them

And
Gravity
Yanks at my intestines.

I see
The lustrous thunderbolt in your groin
Point to primal oceanic dawns
And
The misty origins of life
Make a wind-up toy of
My eyeballs.

You turn slowly,
Expansively,
Your arms, like a floral halo,
Surround your face
Turn around, Antigone,
Turn around!

And
Like a red light whore you sway
A pale yet exuberant pear
Complete with a tiny stalk from
The tree

And
My mouth opens to reveal
Extending canines dripping with
Prospects.

You ask, silly fool, you ask,
“Do I have a good figure?”
Silly fool!
Wanna do that again?

Jasmine

Christ’s thorn-crown spun
Inside the captain’s belly when
I brought out a photograph of
Ithaca’s beach.

“There!”
He said, and his trembling finger
Pointed somewhere beyond the foreign sunbathers
And the seagulls.

“There, see there?”
Then, as if in front of an
Icon and if in need of penitence, he took off
His black captain’s hat, heavy regalia, and sat next
To me.

“That’s where I used to live. If you look closely…”

He stopped there.
If you look closely!
A half-dissolved soul with a
Jaundiced view of Nature’s laws, of the
Fate that had brought him to these shores full of lotus trees.

“I can still smell the sweet scent of jasmine,”
He said after a while.
“Would you believe,
I can still smell the jasmine on my mother’s grave!”


Dear Jasmine

Dear Jasmine,
I’ve trimmed off the mould from the
The Swiss cheese then wrapped it up with the
Fresh cheese cloth.

The persimons are ready, finally, and they
Will go well with the cheese and with a glass
Of chilled water.

I’m off for my morning constitutional
And if I’m not back by
Ten or
Eleven at the latest, call the under-
Taker.

Tell him I’m lying somewhere along the footpath,
On the road
Between here and
Ithaca.

I can hear you saying
“Silly old goat!” as you’re reading this
and
I can see the “ts, ts!”on the edges of
Your mouth.

I love all that!
Hooroo, my
Love,
Hooroo!

Letter to a Friend

Send me some seeds
From the apple tree in your
Back yard and, tell me
Do the sparrows still visit your
Stretched open palm?
See if you can get in touch
With the old gypsy who had left his
Rolling occult clan and
Settled down at my old street.
Tell him about me and ask him
To send me some of his wine-music.
Any song will do. Tell him also that I hear
His violin often.
God, is he dead?
God, I wish we could visit the past just
Occasionally!

Medea

Charged by mist-hidden Fates
She travelled
Standing argus-eyed on planks firmed
Upon a hull that bulged
Above the sea’s head plumes
Like a man’s chest-muscles raised to a pose.
Jason’s prize, the golden fleece, at her feet.

Long she had travelled
Dividing the sun from the sea
The star from the dream, the
Tide-in from the tide-out,

Between Aiolus’ bright moods and bleak
Upon that air-cutting deck
The hull beneath her slicing the everdeep
With the urgent force of home-bound rowers,

Like a screeching vulture slices the marrow
Like an escape-fury the reason
Like a plough the earth’s flesh.
All this, to escape the savage witchery
Of her frosty home,
The magic of a golden fleece and a father,
Lord of dragon-teeth and of fleshless warriors.

All this to escape.

She travelled long in a man’s vessel until
The feathers of the birds
And the faces of the rowers changed.

The Man then moored the ship’s stern and made firm its bow
And then, raising proudly on one shoulder the fleece and on
His other this woman,
Sun-gathering prizes both,
Took them both past the squawking seagulls and into
Demetre’s domain of earth harvests,
Of soil smells, of pig litters
And of the inconstancy of men.

But when her breasts sagged by marriage
Jason dropped her from his shoulders and
Left her for a brightly tressed princess.

The frost inside Medea snapped again
And she prayed to the mist-hidden Fates
Again.

Jason’s glance made many turns.
Now manly covetous, now manly benevolent,
Now manly feeble until
It finally rested firmly upon his naive princess.

So, perdurable Medea
Brought out from her long-shut chest
Long-dormant savage skills and with them
Clashed against Demetre.

Then, with a savage storm of hate
This ever-migrant sailed off again
The blood of her children still clotting
Around her knife
And Jason’s tumultuous grief cutting his body into
Violent folds.

What is a wife, then, if not a torturer’s tool?
What is a mother, if not a suckling’s tomb?
What is a woman, if not a man’s begemmed snare?
What is a man, if not the maker of the tool and of
The tomb and, all at once, of his own snare?

Sirens

Sirens sing no more your artful song
Odysseus has endured you and now gone,
Gone to endure some more of Polyphemus’
Vengeance.

Throat and lyre strung in tune, two snares
In harmony to make the seas’ farer swoon before the
Whims of Aeolus spread the strength of their
Enchanting shriek.

Lure upon lure the throat and the lyre
Cast golden and silver breezes and
I,
I,
Tied firmly to my ship’s tall mast, pressed hard
Against the ropes that my children cast
To see me through
Your artificial ruse.

Gone is Odysseus, sirens who tear the sailors’ flesh.
He’s known you
And known the clouds and thunder that broad-voiced Zeus
Had rolled the one within the other.

Circe’s webs and her wizard’s wand, too.
Known, yes,
The heaving purple waves and the winds that
Shrilled and hurled their ever-frothing fear
Across the hollow black ship’s
Burnished bow, smashing the oars of
My comrades.

Unburied now and without their oars,
Nor proper rites as Fates decreed,
Their bones will, by the ever-folding waves,
Be ever made to roll
The one upon the other.

Their spirits will wander through Hades’ groaning halls
Cleansed, stripped and purged of
All their sin-steeped flayed flesh,
Foolish leather sacks, one and all,
True mates and fools, both each in turn.

A world full of thoughts and deeds.
Relentless demons, fiery chills,
Noises and voices of people and their cities that
I’ve known; some lofty and firm, some low,
All in turn, after the tallest citadel of all,
Stony Ilium, Zeus-nurtured, Priam’s splendid home,
Where I slaughtered maddened bulls, a hekatomb of
Fattened rams with curvy horns
And ewes and scrumptious lambs.

Where I’ve
Burned their thick thigh-pieces to appease the
Ever-angry gods, and
Scattered prayer-barley
Until the wide flames burned the flesh and bones
Of all of Priam’s men.

Noises and voices that beguile and kill,
Meek and murderous like Klytaimestra’s
Murderous skill and her welcome smiles

And like Helen’s ghostly wiles,
So many voices did she craft beneath the
Silent wood carved art and I denied them all.

I have denied and have endured them all.

Then I slaughtered the haughty suitors all
With my artful bow and killed all their sluts
And cleansed my halls and purged Penelope’s
Sagacious mind of all its doubt-sent ghosts.

I have
Cleansed and purged my halls
like I’ve done to my comrades’ bones
All proper and as the Fates decreed.

I’ve known you, sirens and now I’m gone.

At home I stand and through its columns I gaze
As I gazed before
Upon Calypso’s full-wooded yearning-shore,
Forlorn, forlorn and with all comrades lost, without their
Precious, precious noises and drunken songs!

Ever-tortuous dreams, that roll and roll
The one into the other,
More tortuous now then ever before.
I am ever, ever gone!

Soul Mate

Climates sped past
Since that first pulse
Rippled through my umbilical cord
That primordial,
Refined food.

Since that first pulse
Women fertilised my soul.
And of them all
None did so fastidiously draw the earthy
Nerves upon its soil. None
Dug, tilled and aired with such a gentle hoe, so
Elegantly and in such exquisite
Symmetry as did
My recent acquaintance, who, yet with an
Injured wrist did lovingly
Enter my flinty Greek field with a
Restorative wit and lusty humus.

A mixture of Irish and…
And of something else.
Mysterious concoction of spirits.

Emigration

Then we hurriedly kissed
our loved ones
and stepped aboard the floating city
that bore the name of a queen (some said she was half crazed).

Then we looked down from her balustrades,
well-burnished
by oceanic climates,
and into the crowd whose ankles were pinned
aground like those of young Oedipus,
lest they escaped their own fate.

And while my sister and I chirped at each
other, my mother undid the kerchief
from her flowing hair
and turning back her head,
she waved. Her children tugged eagerly at her skirt
but this wasn’t Sodom and
Gomorrah and she wasn’t afraid of
turning into a pillar of salt.

Our father was waiting.

Then the engines cranked beneath our feet,
the diesel clotted in the winter air
and we left the solid
soil of Greece to plunge into Poseidon’s moody waters.

And we heard the laughter of other gods, too and
From that moment on, we became their toys.
Poseidon, Apollo and Aeolos, each
in turn, had his cruel fun with us,
migratory birds with their wings
glued together by village children.

Whimsical Aeolos spun gentle breezes into a
murderous pasture, its wild life swelling the waves.
Then he would make tall, weighty
folds with the waters and let loose the
snake-headed gorgons upon us.

Will he never forget Odysseus’ sin?
And Apollo, who’d play childish games of hide-
and-seek with his chariot,
turning the sky into a vast opal
stone one moment and a slab of black
granite of woe the next
and we all had witnessed the handiwork of
many other gods as we passed through their meridian precincts.

And the nights!
These moons didn’t
attract the distant wolf-
cries or the creaking doors or the
moans of branches bending by the
determined night storms.

Neither village nor city sounds approached us.
Only the salty claws tearing at the ship’s
flesh and at our own strength.

Will we pass the gods’ endurance test?
How long before our own ways will be vanquished?
And will we, like Odysseus’ men, kill
Apollo’s sacred cows?

The adults shed tears as our ship travelled
reverently over Aegeas’ green tomb
and they pointed soft fingers at the whitewashed
rocks above it.

We had left behind the music of the Greek stars,
passed through the narrow canal that
separated the giant continents, slowly,
lest we disturb the quiet of the sands over which
History slammed tight her doors.

Green land became yellow
and our hull hurried through
Buheirat Murrat et-Kubra,
the Bitter Lake and then entered the waters of the
Red Sea.

To our right, Ethiopia, where
Poseidon came once, in the days
when this land was splendid. He was invited to receive a feast,
a hekatomb of fattened bulls
and lambs. Then it was that Athena of the wise and meticulous mind,
had convinced all the other Olympians
to save Odysseus from his salty anger and give him his nostos.

Many the soils
and stones of earth
but girdled are they all with
soil-cutting waters.

Our charts guided us to harbours
where glistening black men and women neared our ship
and with comic gestures and sad
words, sold us their trinkets.

Into port
after port
we were sent and from these ports
we gathered small samples of wares,
ate the food there,
compared the water,
listened to the strange speech,
made our nostrils aware of the air,
learned and mocked these people’s
ways and postures, gave alms to
putrid mendicants and replenished the
cellars and pantries of the ship-queen and all her workshops.

Once a kind steward aboard, who
played sweetly at the mouth-organ told us that this ship
had an ill destiny.
That this was her last voyage
and the first she ever made to Australia.
That the captain wasn’t familiar with the
starweb of the southern
night skies and, after we’d reach our
own end, this ship would head for the
watery graves of America.

But another steward caught sight of our
bard’s eyebrows
and of the swing of his glassy eyeballs
and broke the black magic of the song.
“Have no fear,” this second steward said.
“Our captain is wise and well-learnt
in the ways of all the waters.
He’s a Greek after all and as captains go,
the whole world knows there are no better!”

We had a ceremony as we passed over the
equatorial waters and
priests of many religions blessed the
vastness of the sea’s surface and had, too some
pagan rituals and
petitions were made to the sea spirits for calm.

And Poseidon heard and nodded his broad face.
A few days later we had celebrated Christmas.
We called the hierophants again and they,
in their glittering regalia, sang glorious
chants to Christ’s birth.

Then, one still night,
after the days had rolled the one
into the lap of another many times,
when the stars had changed
their formation gain and again,
when all the climates turned their
garments and when all the
ports and their people looked the same,
when we had tempered with all the
temples and altars and shrines,
someone called out across the whole length of the deck,
“Australia!”

We all rushed to the bow
and looked earnestly into the night’s horizon.
Our knees bent at the sight of this land’s
lights and an immense sigh rose from us.
“At last! At last!” The sighs shouted with joy!
“At long last!”

Two thousand people or so, strained
their imagination’s bow to hit at omens.

We stopped there all night and greeted Australia’s Dawn.
O, ho! Dawn, mother!
Look, Australia’s Dawn!
Look how brazen she looks,
clothed with the finest raiment.

Penelope’s silken threads, Laertes’ dazzling shroud.
O, ho, mother, look!

Look there! Look!
Behind that splendid tapestry
is our father, waiting with a dream,
in a land that is reluctant to leave
the dream’s fabulous realm.
Australia!

We harboured the next morning and
we wandered dazed through the streets
of her first port.

At Fremantle we bought sandwiches
for the first time, and milkshakes
from milk bars that were owned by Greeks,
waited in queues at souvenir shops to buy
more trinkets from
Saxons with business smiles.

Our eyes and ears worked well with the
new environment.
We rolled new sounds in our mouth
and studied the architecture
for the next four hours.

We walked the asphalt roads back
and forth and proved the textbooks
and the glossy brochures
wrong, for we saw
no black men nor black women or streets paved in gold.

At midday the engines rolled true again
and we looked with brazen arrogance at
Poseidon’s face.

With chests gloated with pride,
we rolled our souls deeper
and deeper into the mire of hubris.

Are we not stronger than him?
Then Poseidon, or Apollo, or even, why not?
Even Zeus?
Have we not beaten him at his own game?
Do we not know the seas better than him?
Ha! Is not our captain Greek?

How stupid mortals are!
How worthy of their Punishment!
How little they learn from their mistakes!
Had not Odysseus made the same mistake?

Then someone called out,
“These are Australian waters,
fools! Olympian gods, all other gods, must
surrender here their authority to the
gods of the Antipodes and
terrible often is the clash before the surrender!
Beware, beware!”

And even before Apollo could
warn us, by hiding his chariot, say, or
by sending some bird to fly in a way
that knowledgeable seafarers
can interpret,
or by some such sign which he often sends
to humans when Poseidon’s wrath is imminent,

even before that, a cyclone,
born out of Summer’s womb but with Winter’s will,
rose mountains of sea spume
above us and hollowed out deep caverns below us.

And this cyclone whirled his liquid
coil with wild speed and
our ship spun about like a lost sparrow
before Poseidon’s thundering
mouth and our bodies were flung
savagely against moaning timbers
and against the rusting steel of the crazed queen.

Our captain became busy then,
sending S.O.S. signals which were lost in the white spays.
The loud-speakers called for
calm in many languages and the
stewards rushed about double-tide strapping life-jackets
on people’s shoulders and mopping away the
ever-flooding sickness.

The hierophants rolled their hands,
their prayers and their eyeballs at the heavens and,
all the while,
the wailing of the mortals rose higher and coughed and
choked pitifully, for the gorgons
emerged from their dark caves in ever-
increasing numbers and their intent looked ever more
calamitous as they fastened panic
hard into our hearts.

The snakes sprung out from the gorgons’
heads and lashed and flogged the
migrants furiously and played with the cyclone
and with chimeras, with ghosts and spectres,
all in death’s red cauldron,
for four days and nights until someone
yelled for all the elements to hear,
“These are truly Australian waters!”
and so the Antipodean gods finally prevailed.

The Great Australian Bight was then
released from horror’s grip and our own beaten
gods rushed back to Mt. Olympus.

Then the currents dragged us and dragged the
weary queen, too, slowly towards the end of our voyage,
into Melbourne’s night.

Only we, the children and the steward
with the mouth organ are now on deck.
We were the brave ones, we were the defiant ones.

He played his mouth organ and this city’s lights began to
mingle and dance with the stars.
“Look how Australians dance and make love,”
he said and we could see that this wasn’t a
Greek village wedding.

For a second, the music of the Greek stars
echoed in our ears, then faded again
and we searched the concert of this
strange heaven for the new music.

We looked at the map once again.
Only one tomorrow left on this floating city.
Our father was waiting.


Our Ancient Boat

He died upon the cross,
Oh Joy,
Oh Patience,
Like a true Lib. boy
John, did,
Oh Joy!
Upon this election’s cross,
Oh boy, oh boy!
But Leunig,
Oh Leunig!
Live on, our lad
Live on our boy and
Point your cheeky pen at
The sycophants,
The Pharisees,
The Sadducees,
The Philistines,
Look at them all,
Bastards all,
Bastards all,
Ahoy!
And no one to keep them honest!
Draw on, our brave lad,
Cry on, our melancholy boy,
Oar on, guide our ancient boat of Democracy
Through the tears,
Through the parliamentary blood
Of the Libs who’ve forgotten that
Liberty’s not a Torry toy!
Live on,
Draw on,
Cry on,
Oar on,
Our own little bloody
Democratic joy!

The Palm and the Cypress

Stone crushed
Stone for hours
Last night.
He, beneath the Palm and
She, beneath the Cypress
And
The ancient allegories
Rose and fell -breaths and sighs
Of a crimson evening-
And
The night’s
Gargoyle
Was too far to frighten them.
“Tell me a story,” he said -not in as
many words-
And
She began with
The death of a great English
City, the first for the Anglo Saxons.
(The Cypress giggled
And some of the Palm’s leaves fell
As its king crumbled.)
They drank of Tristan and Isolde’s wine
-which was no wine at all, as it
happened, but a benevolent aphrodisiac-
And the night moved closer with feline
Curiosity.
“Tell me a story,” she said -not in as
many words-
And
He began with
The wedding of Achilles’ parents.
Then, the breaths took them all the way to Troy
And all the way back again
Breath-and-sigh
After slow
Breath-and-sigh,
Right up to
The death of Klytaimestra, the queen who had
Murdered her husband who had
Murdered their daughter.
Ah, the stories!
Her stories flowed like indolent
Honey from a forgotten beehive whilst
His scalloped their backs up
Against the shimmering
Chestnuts of her eyes, wanting to get in-
to her indolent foams.
The crimson dissolved
And…
Stone crushed
Stone for hours
But the
Gargoyle was still
Too far.
Too far,
Damn it!
Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas!

Ode upon an Aged Man

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, o mysterious priest,
Do you lead this heartsome bull?
O Aussie shape! O fair gait without the fairly well-
Lavished Aussie belly!

You were truly bred with this
Parched land’s frothy beer and by the well loved jam do-nuts
And canteen apple pies.

Bred you were to breed and make many
Passionate maidens overwrought,
Yet you are still sluttish Time’s unravished groom!

You foster-child of trivial Age and slow Pulse.
Silvery man, who can thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than all the stars’
Enchanting harmonies.

What leaf-fringed legend
Haunts about your shape?
What men, or women, or gods are
These that bear you high to that altar?

What maidens pursue your sluggish, stolid gait?
Alas, these are no maidens true,
But mark-anxious female scholars!

And God help you if you dare plant
The number forty nine per cent
Upon their much-caressed exam paper!
The giggling fools!

Curses to Socrates and all his peripatetic schools!
And what pursuit is this I see?

Oh, ho! How maddened the struggle to
Escape the age of forty nine!
O, Forty Nine! Between fairest Venus’ Sixty Nine
Charms and you, you are the fairer of the two
For you, the teacher, are the most desired!

O, fair un-youth, o un-young Forty Nine!
O Edwin! Fairest, hairfulest youth that
Once you were and still are but by just
One unjust year!

But just one year!
What is one year?
‘t is not an eon, nor an epoch, nor an era by which to
Measure the paths of slow glasiers.

Huff, puff my man!
One year, one day, one hour, one moment,
All this is but one fractured whiff of Time’s
Most fragrant, endless garden!

O kind, generous, loving, sugar-packed Edwin!
O true-blue mate! Your voice does, indeed, teach the
Universe to sing as Shakespeare’s Juliet did teach the
Torches to burn bright that night when these star-crossed
Lovers first came to make their illicit meeting.

Such is your voice
And so, I go on a little more upon your graces.
Your heart is a psychologist’sblood curdling nightmare
As well as his purse-delight, a small pouch which money shuns
But people coagulate within it.

Your mind is mine own cross and crossed bemusement and
Amusement and, though you are a true sage, you are
Wrong, wrong, so manifestly wrong, Edwin,
When you mourn your passing years

No, you are not consumed, least of least, not by age
But by your own gentle heart and inability to say “no”
To people and to do-nuts.

So, yes you are wrong and I often told you so!
These Fifty Years form no altar but a number.

One number as is one note in the infinite firmament’s
Sublime music.
Alter the note and this music is but a
Piper’s meagre, airy tune,
Small sighs for pleasant and eager-to-please lovers.
Ah, happy, happy branches of Life’s forest that cannot
Shed your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu!
Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,
Forever panting, and forever a slow-pulsed youth.
Love to you from your friends, our friend, Edwin,
It is all the same, whether we say,each to all,
Good morrow or good night!

And so, remember, aged mate, that
When this generation of well-girdled
Men and maidens waste their old age,
You shall remain one friend to one man at least,

AndI’ve been spitting faeces
Of the rebellious Aussie bulls
For over fifty asinine verses!

Happy birthday old man!



Edwina’s Bush Home

Morning follows this two-year-old
All day.
Dew covers her little forehead
As she crawls from kitchen to
Lounge,
Dragging her plaster shackles behind.
Legs and waist
In plaster that weighs but does not arrest this
Morning girl.
From the book to the puzzle to the
Toy V.W.
“You ready now? One, two,
Free!” and the V.W. screeches to a
Halt way down at the other end of the lounge hall.
“Now, ‘Dwina’ll get it,” she says and the
Plaster tries to hold her back like a
Brake that’s stuck at the wheel.
“You ready now?” And the fresh life within her
Moistens the wisps of corn-silk above her eyes.
From book to puzzle to toy and then-
Plaster worn at the knees-
Outside she goes, where Earth’s first dawn firmed well its
Honey-coloured quietude
Around this girl’s bush home,
A home that’s as determined to hold back the
City-speculator’s asphalt rush, as she is to run.
With operatic calls she defies Sunset and Night and
The cot and –
It’s morning all day here, around
Edwina’s home, around Dawn’s bush palace,
Around Edwina.

The Soul of the Elm

Hear the soul of the elm simmer,
The brook’s froth curls in our direction;
Hear the woman’s marble shoulders
Divide that brook’s gentle path.
Yet
More
Hear the birds ascending and descending
Amid the ribbons of the slow wind.
So much past has passed
Through that elm’s leaves
Through the blood petals of
Those poppies,
Through Van Gough’s cypresses —
Yellow flames that make the
Elm’s soul simmer!
Now,
Women come and go
One by one
Baring their marble shoulders,
Their poppy-lips move gently and
Promise not to divide
My brook’s path
And conjure up the ribbons
Amid which the birds will float again.
Women come and go
But I refuse to travel anywhere
Except to the sun above the
Ikarian waters.

The Dove

If I were there
That moment when the jasmine first turned white,
That moment when the white dove
Lifted its wings for its first flight,
If I were there that moment when the poppy first put on its flaming garb,
Or
When the bursting cherry first offered its luscious flesh —
Moments which, beholding them would make all other moments marred

Yet
I
Could forfeit them all still,
For that moment when our own flesh first obeyed
Our bursting heart’s decree
And shed garb after garb
To make our bed the nest of
Our love’s boundless greed.

Sacrifice

The
Matador’s eyes scorch the turbulent
agate dust in the ring’s air and, like a serpent’s
rasp, the sacrificial beast
yanks at the earth under its belly.

Matador and bull with serrated will
and
sharp cutting cunning and
Nerve
exact each other’s
intent for just a little while before the
loud lamb’s untimely, unexalted
death.

Summer Grass

The village vespers ended abruptly and
Then
The grass turned into cold ash and the
Agony began
And we began the anxious search.

Behind every mocking star, behind all the
moon tips
we searched for the dove which your
graceful palms had sent
off to promenade
amidst the summer night breezes.

And the summer grass!
Oh, the summer grass!

We had searched all night for that dove,
Spinning the cold ash into flying havoc
with our naked bodies.

Sometimes I look up at the night’s sky,
This, southern, night’s sky, thousands of miles
away and too many decades later
and I still search the stars and the moon tips
from whose companythat dove was rent

And always, always, my search ends at that
deep, hollow, grey horizon beneath which
we embraced for the first and for the last time

And the
Agony
that had sprung up from
that summer grass
returns.
Age

Age, O, Age!
You are abominable!
I’m now squirming like a worm chased by a
Snake,
I, above the earth and
You below it.

You, Age chase and I, the poor worm
squirm.

This is the age that makes the quill’s tracings
faint,
though the pressure upon it reddens the fist and
though the determination to leave a trace
is urgent.

This is the age that boiled the dread in Methuselah’s hear
and
This is the age when Mammon’s maggots gathered round
to suck what little life remains in my eyes,
what little blood remains in my fist.

I have sunk my nostrils deep into a
handful of soil and smelled the beauty of resting rot.
Tranquil rot it is, there in that handful of soil
and beauty it is in that rot.

No, rot is not odious,
I’m not afraid to rot,
joining the leaves and bones that still push
the quill with reddened fist, that try hard to leave a trace
of their soul.

But
I’m truly afraid of Mammon’s maggots
that come before the beautiful rot, that come with
Age.

I am afraid of the maggots that you,
Age,
have sent over to eat at me:
Money bag carriers, interest rate watchers,
Dealers in other people’s properties,
in other people’s lives.

Mammon, you are thief of souls!

Music in the Shadows

“Now trim those lines and
lace them with shadows.
very important the shadows!
Mozart’s adagiettos and all of
his despair wait there,
there, beneath the web of those charcoal
shadows,” sang her fingers.

And so,
my charcoal digs, jabs and pummels at
the white breeze on the canvas
hoping to hear Mozart’s plaintive notes.

and there now are my shadows,
the shadows my art teacher is looking for
The notes I’m waiting to hear.

There, are Mozart’sadagios,
there, the damned violins that always
make my heart cave in
and there, there, in the same shadows is
the reason for asking
this art teacher
to teach me
her art, her art of a good, fully coloured,
and fully noted Life.

“Very, very important the shadows!
It all happens in those shadows!”
She said.

“The scouro part of the chiaroscouro is very important,”
She said.
“Lose the scouro and you have no chiaro,”
She said.

“No chiaroscouro means no life!”
She said.
“It’s all about chiaroscouro. Art is all about Life,”
She said.
My art teacher said.
My Life teacher said.

“There, in that soft space between the chiaro and the scouro
Is the essence, the movement, the soul and sound of Life.”
She said.

“Κιαροσκούρο!
Between the κιαρό and the σκούρο!
Pay attention,” she said.

Tomorrow we’ll be working with
the oil-dipped bristles.
Tomorrow the pagan plumes will fly and
the shadows will not be shadows but
shades!

“Wait for it,” her fingers sang
again, at the end of the lesson.

I can see their song in those shadows:
I must be learning!

I always listen to my Art teacher
and do as she says.

She can tell the difference between an ugly
and a beautiful worm
and between that of the living
and of the dead sperm
simply by placing the thumb of a stretched arm
up against a brush and then looking past it.

So
I listen to my Art teacher
and do as she says.
Oils or water today?


Today’s Art Lesson

Today I’ve succumbed to my
Art teacher’s love for a life, living but still
and looked at
a bowl of fruit she placed
at the edge of my cluttered
table.

Today she has taught me that only
swaddled Lazarus would consider
apples to be spheres.

Living zoographers know that apples
are cubes
cubes
cubes, damn it!

And that the charcoal’s sinews on the canvas
configure them as such: cubes, cubes, cubes,
Damn it!

Today she placed a brush at the
peak of an apple, swung it this way
and that
and I’ve discovered
the hidden lines
Rallendando!

“Slow down the thinking
and rush the charcoal stick; look,
look at the total bowl and not at the single fruit,
the fruit is not an island,” she said!
“No fruit is an island!” She said.

oh, God, o, John Donne, save me!

“Don’t use your own eyes but that of the fruit, look,
look, look at that apple!What is its view of the pear?
Hah?”

Look with the eyes of that apple!
“Art,” said Degas,”is not
a matter of what you can see but of what
you can make other people see.”
I told my art teacher that and she was impressed.

I said to her that Degas said that it’s
what other people see, not
what fruit
can see and she said,
“Degas was a narrow-minded, blinkered twit
who was dead!”

So I squinted and bent in front of the apple.
It was green and it had sort of pimples on it
But it was definitely alive.
Still and quiet but full of life.
I wanted to bite it like Eve once did in Gethsemane.



Enough!

Let the fingers stop their endless dancing,
their high kicks and low kicks and whirls upon the key board!
Let the net be gathered and the words be weighed,
toss them back if they’re far too light,
send them off if they’re plump and juicy enough
for a nourishing meal!

Come, press “send” now!

Ash Womb

We dug our feet in the cool mud of the water
melon patch, at the edge of our village
and
played with words and heart beats, mixing the two
like oil and vinegar while the other peasants teased
the earth’s belly and gathered the sunflower
seeds
all summer.

But then the heads of the flowers fell and the shepherd’s
flute stopped
and
we were chased by the wind
each to our own sealed house.

Oh, hot song of the fire place!
Ash womb!

See the elm tree dancing in the fire? You gave birth to it!
Oil, vinegar and elm, flute songs and heart beats,
one
by one
are wished into love
by me
because of you, Sofia,
in that ash womb with that hot song of fire!

How you made solid the clay around my feet!
Shall we imagine that we’re dancing to that elm tree’s tune again?
How long before summer comes again, I wonder.

The Orchid

Let that orchid leave
and let it fall
wherever its fat belly may bend
or wherever its bells may toll
for it stands tall for one season only.
But you, immortal earth,
giver of all birth,
will charm and enchant and live on,
live on
to enjoy the bulbs and the seeds of other
flowers. You’ll live on,
live on,
live on for all eternity.



Breakfast at Sophia’s

Let the breakfast be spread!
Let the homemade jams and the
Marmalades and the heated bread
Unlock and each to each marry their hearth-sighs!

Let the essence of the berries and the tumbled
Wheat fill our air,
Each to each, the cheese and the sweet melon
The grapes and the creamy yogurt,
Let them all declare their love for each other
Here, at Sophia’s morning table!

Each to each,
Our own autumns weave their mellow colours here.
Here,
At Sophia’s sunrise garland of love.

This sumptuous marriage of sight and taste,
This glorious and prodigious gathering
Of earthly declarations of love, marks the very moment of
The blossoming of the first autumnal bud.

See here, the nectar beckons at the bee, and there,
The berry’s petal turns to the Sun’s eye!
And now
Hear the symphony of stout fingers kneading the dough,
The big breasted women at the stone-oven’sfiery jaw, singing
The happy songs of a plentiful harvest!

This, this Sophia, is no woman kept in a velvet-and-glass
Case to be taken out for Sunday shows only,
To gather prize ribbons and trophies for her keeper.

This is no such woman at all!
This is a woman whose mind and heart do split frivolities
Apart
And quickly go to the core of the matter.

This is a woman
Who knows Nature’s ebb and flow
Who can give one a breakfast
Crammed full of Nature’s virtues with but a glance.

Each to each then,you and I!
Each to each and to each other
Let’s drink tea gathered from the wild side of the mount
And let’s toast to the merry Fates who brought our autumns
Here, at your table.

Mmm,
Lazarus had an easier task,I think,trying to raise from the dead
Than I will have, trying to raise from this table!



The Dingo

Let that dingo howl and let it
rave, let it snarl at the full moon all night,
every night from now on!

It
has bitten
the hand that fed it
for many years,
A hand that has fed it well,
fed its sloth and fed all its craving,
and
made it fat despite all its wailing
and all its whining
for many years.

and
let it roam all the territory wild
and
let its teeth foam fear and bile
into other animals
and
let it sniff around the dens of all the
other dingos.
Let him sniff them clean of all sympathy
for all I care now, I cared enough
for many years.

It’s mad, the bastard,it’s
bloody mad and I,
I’ll not be his
warrigal bitch for
one moment longer!

Outside the Dingo’s Den

Let your eyes come out of that dark hole,
The dingo’s dirty stall, the
Cave
where the sun’s nourishing eyes are
stopped dead at its entrance.

This is the crypt where the frenzied fates crawl
and scrape at the damp soil looking at the dark
past instead of the future.
Frenzied the fates,because they find scavenging fleas
instead of Time’sseeds.

Dark enough the past, dark enough the crypt
to snuff out the whiteness of
Jasmine and the sighs of frangipani.

Too far this place from where you were born.
Let your eyes answer the call of the Sun now
and let them come out to where His warm rays
bloat the cherries and the persimmons
in people’s gardens.

I can see them in mine!
Cherries and persimmons and plums, bloated
red,bursting with rich
blood and flesh,
and they inhale life, not death,
Life, not Death,
Not
Death!

Leave now the dingo’s dirty manger
where sloth and heavy slumber
sit heavy upon the eyelids and upon the soul
and where stomach and throat are bloated with
growls and wails and
the mouth is full of the foam of hate and of anger.
Let your eyes come out and see
Life’s whirling theatre under the
all-seeing Sun.
Let them roll out crystals of joy
into the arms of this heart-cleansing
Sun and let your eyes come out,
come out and
See,
See it all!


Fifty Springs and Summers

Fifty Springs and Summers have weaved their charm
Upon her face and let
Flow gently through her every vein their scents and
Gurgling disposition,
Heating her heart against the icy ravages of
Fifty Autumns and Winters.

Sublime blossoms and full-flavoured
Crops have been
Gathered from her because of these
Fifty Springs and Summers.

Spring rolled upon Spring and
Summer upon Summer,
EachSpring and Summer conquering
The Autumns and the Winters that rolled between them.
See? There’s no Winter’s hurt evident upon her face,
Nor any sign of Autumn’s sullen spirits
Anywhere about her compass!

Son after son after son yet again, have eaten of her
Spritely fruit,have received the arms of her love,
Have grown tall because of her heart
Because of her well-lit hearth,
Because of the Fifty Springs and Summers
That have settled well into her soul.

Husband and sons, brother, nephews, nieces,
Parents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, outlaws and friends,
All felt this woman’s Fifty Springs and Summers
And with her felt the power to vanquish
All their own Autumns and Winters.

This woman,
Let me, her lover, tell you,
This woman, named to honour an ancient Goddess for her
Wise effect upon her subjects, has truly grown, yet grown not old.
This woman, is still but
A young woman,
A beautiful woman, both,
In aspect and in soul,
In all things visible and not.



Sleep

I am no Aeolos,
gatherer of all the winds, the god who once helped Odysseus,
the Great ancient seafarer get his nostos.

Nor am I Prometheus the Titan,
gatherer of hopes and horrors
who gave a wedding present to his sister-in-law.
Pandora the first woman.

But I am a gatherer of dreams.
So
I have gathered all the evil dreams and locked them away
in heavily-shackled chests.

Chests of the evil.

Gathered, too all the nightmares that
crowd and screech
with anger at sleep’s door
And
all of horror’s shadows that dig their claws at the
edges of innocent night-rooms.

Night-rooms of the innocent.

And so,
drop by drop, I have gathered, too, the cold drops of fear
the tear of melancholy that gathers
around the wounded brow and moistens the night-pillow
Night-pillow of the wounded.

All these awful things are free no more.
Free, I have left only the cheerful dreams that fly
within the breaths and sighs of gentle slumber.

Left free, too, such thoughts that fuse
the bee’s sacred nectar with
the lover’s smiles
and
the scents of mellow wines to mingle with
the spirit of your wiles.

They will be the only visitors who’ll come to your bed
Tonight.
And every other night.

And
I have gathered all the bell ringers from all the belfries
in the world
and
bid them cover their bells with velvet when they call their morning roll.

And
I have gathered all the stars and
bid them soften their gaudy dance above your house tonight
And every other night.

And
Noble Dawn and brilliant Sun I have urged to make their feet less quick in the morning,
and to spread their fingers open across the sky even more gently.

So, leave loose the latch of your sleep’s door
tonight
and dream.

Rest easy
and
Dream.

Let only me, the gatherer of dreams, come in
Tonight
Tonight
And every other night.


Spring to Spring

Stop now the flying steeds that roll Sun’s
Blazing chariot
Through its Winter Path.

Stop, too,the fork-tailed swallows from circling our chimney’s
Stack, looking forhints of Winter.
I’ll have no more of this season,
No more of Winter!

Let not the pine cones fall
or
The forest leaves lose their splendid youth and
Go now and
Tell the chilling Boreas to stay North a while longer

And

While there
Lock well in heavy-chained chests all of
Winter’s icy garments.

Let not Winter come!

Let stand the men’s axes by the wood shed and
Hold them from building their rude pile of fire-wood

And

I want to see
The sparrow’s beak dig yet into a warm, summer soil.

Hold back all the clouds and all their ever-blustering
Storms and
Thunders and lightning.

I’ll have no more of this season
No more of Winter!

And

Let me see the night sky smile her usual million
Summer smiles still.

Don’t ask me where last Autumn or Winter went.
I felt none of them this past year
Having spent it all, from Spring to Spring
Near Spring’s most bright and most dear blossom.
Let neither Autumn nor Winter come!

Not by Nature’s design
Nor by Divine will

And

Oh, and let next year and all years to come be just like the last.
Love, born in Spring and Spring continuing still.

The Gatherer

And so the gatherer has gone to sleep
Next to his lover
Within his lover’s dream
All the nightmares are fully shackled inside a heavy chest
Elsewhere
Well away from Sophia’s bed.

The stars have lowered the noise of their gaudy dance
The bells will soften their morning peel
The bees will fly more gently back to their queen
In the morning
To lengthen this night’s loveful sleep.

So sleeps the gatherer of Dreams
A lover within a lover’s dream
A hoper within a hope’s
Swelling sigh.

Next to his lover
Contented within Sophia’s
Feast of lover’s dreams.

God, I hope I don’t snore!

Tout est Calme

“All is well!”
sonne la cloche
Aujourd`hui et demain
Et
Toujours, tous les jours.

“All is well!”
Will ring the bell
Pour notre éternité
For us
Just for us!
“Oyez, oyez, bonnes gens!”
The town crier will call
“Tout est calme!”
He’ll sing tonight.

“All is well,
Tout est calme!”
Take my arm
Pour aujourd`hui et pour demain
Et pour tous les jours
Tous notre jours.
Shhh!

Listen!
Écoutez-moi!

Can you hear the dingo’swhine any more my love?
Amour?
“Nor can I!”
Sonne l’ homme avec la cloche.
“Tout est calme!”

All is
and
All shall be
Well
For us, for ever, from now on!
Je vous promets!


The Tragedy of the Mask

I have seen the veils of many women,
fall
watched them fall like
the petals of a
white-hot
rose,
falling from a smiling balcony.

I have danced with them the immortal
spinning dance of
instincts,
danced with them soul to
soul, and
I have sighed with them all, shoulder to
shoulder as they spat out their despair and
pursued their hope

and
the melancholy thing I’ve discovered
is that the
Tragedy of Man
lies not in his birth nor in his
death, untimely or not,
nor does it lie in his life’s fully-fettered
context
but in the fact that
every woman, of woman
born
or
torn,
wears a smile and every smile wears a
mask
andevery mask wears a
veil
and that,
though the silk veil from
her body
may fall,
will fall,
the veil from
her mask
will never!

And more!
I have discovered more
that
no man of woman born
or
torn
can ever hope to make that mask-veil
fall.

Neither the veil,
nor the mask will fall!

I have danced with them soul to
soul
lifted skirt and scent and spirit and watched their
body-veils fall as
yours
did fall,
like the petals of a
white-hot
rose,
falling from a smiling balcony

but

the veil above the mask, your mask, above the smile,
your smile
is still there!

Body-veil and mask-veil!

The one makes the instincts dance,
the other
sends them to oblivion.
It is true.
Men too
wear masks.They wear masks,
they wear masks,
they wear masks above their smiles and above their
sniggers and their schemes and their brutal iron conspiracies
and above their hate-concocting minds.

But men will
never, ever
wear veils,
not veils,
never veils!

Watermelon

I sat high on my donkey’s back
Sleepy donkey, sleepy me, sleepy the fields
Below us.

Suddenly,
My grandfather touched my hand and with his own
He covered the horizon.

“Look there, my son’s son, take a deep breath and
Look there!”

And so, I have seen the baby sun rays
Kiss the peaches at that very moment when
Their cheeks reveal their freshest blush
And
So too, I have smelled the pristine air of that village sunrise
Fully scented, fully gorgeous, fully enchanting,
And
So too, I saw its crimson hand stretching out a clear welcome.
“Eat,” the old man said and I dug my eager
Teeth into a chunk of goat’s-milk cheese
Andwatermelon, at the sun’s peak.

“Oh, ho,” he said after his own first bite.
“The honey-making bees were very busy this year!”
And
That evening his hand swept the great sky
High above the fields
Of whispering poppies andof wheat and
ThusI too saw the full moon
Giggle inside the fiery garland of stars.

“What else is there,” my grandfather sighed,
“That may describe the need to be alive,
To love and to be loved,
More accurately and more fully?”
Then,
“To live, to love, is everything!” my grandfather said.



Some Poems in Greek
(translated by the author)

  1. Μάθημα Κουλτούρας / Lesson on Culture

Αταβίστικα ένστινκτα
Σκόρπισε αυτό το κρασί στα αίματά μου.
Ήθελα να ορμίξω εκείνη τη στιγμή
Και να λυώσω
Να ενώσω τα δυό σώματα
Σένα κρεββάτι
Την ηδονή σου και το πάθος μου.

Καζαντζάκιδες σάρκες
Κάποιο γλέντι στην Οδύσσειά του, φαίνεται
Σάλεψαν μπροστά μου, λαγνείες.

Χοντρό κρασί, τσαλαπατημένο για τον Κύκλωπα
Μού δωσες, σε κρουστάλινο ποτήρι,
Ντελικάτο, για πρίγκιπα φτιαγμένο, κι όχι για δούλο.

Κρασί γιομάτο μυρουδιές ηλιοκαμένης θάλασσας,
Πολυχτυπημένης απ τα κουπιά
Και τα κόκαλα πολλών και αόριστων διαβάτων.
Φάγαμε τη νύχτα ολόκληρη συζητώντας κουλτούρες,
Λεπτεπίλεπτες και λόγιες φράσεις που σημείωνες εσύ
Προσεχτικά για μια κάποια σοβαρή έκθεσή σου.

Φράσεις που αργότερα θα καλογραφτούν με την προσοχή
Ενός χειρούργου.
Γέμισες πολλές σελίδες εκείνη τη βραδυά.
Καλόβολος σου φάνηκα, έτσι αδειάζοντας το
Ακαδημαικό θυμητικό μου.

Ασυναίσθητη!
Ασυναίσθητη που δε νιώθεις τί μου κάνεις!
Δε βαρειέσαι!
Κι άν σε καλούσα στο κρεββάτι μου
Πάλι εσύ θα μού ‘λυωνες την σάρκα
Σαν χειρούργος!

(This wine has spread atavistic instincts all over my brain.
That moment I wanted to rush at you and
fuse and join together
our two bodies
into the one bed
Your body’s lust and my body’s passion.

Flesh from some work by Kazantzakis
Perhaps it was some revel in his Odyssey
that waved about those lusty thoughts before me

You gave me some thick wine, crushed especially for Cyclops,
in a crystal cup
A delicate cup, made for a Prince, rather than a slave

A wine, filled with the aromas of a sunburnt sea
A sea much beaten by the oars
And the bones of many ghostly passengers

We ate up the whole night discussing various cultures.
Refined and intellectual phrases which you noted carefully
for some serious essay or rather of yours

Phrases which later will be written properly and with the care
of a surgeon.
You have written many pages that evening.
You have found me to be accommodating as I evacuated
my academic memory.

Insouciant woman!
Insouciant woman! You do not see what you are doing to me!
But never mind!
Even if I had called you to my bed
There, too, you would have dissolved my flesh
Like a surgeon!)

  1. Αλλαγή Ζωής / Change of life

Μα τί διάβολος ήταν αυτός που
Σ΄ έφερε να σπάσεις το δρόμο μου;
Καλά πήγαινα
Άριστος καθηγητής Φιλολογίας,
Αγγλικής
Και
Ελληνικής!

Έντιμος, ευυπόληπτος, κύριος
Φιλοσόφρωνας!

Την μέρα έκανα ανατομία στα πτώματα
Σοβαρών ποιητών και
Το Βράδυ -καθε βράδυ!- έκανα εγχείρηση στα σώματα μαθητών.

Τις Κυριακές βέβαια επένδυνα την ψυχή μου
Για το Ουράνιο άπειρον.
Έψελνα στην εκκλησία κάθε Κυριακή και κάθε θρησκευτική εορτή και εξάσκιζα την ασύγκριτή μου γνώση της Βυζαντινής μουσικής παίζοντας τον ρόλο του ψάλτη.
Συχνά διόρθωνα τον Πατέρ Βασίλη όταν αυτός λάθος
διάβαζε τις άγιες νότες.
Αντάλαγα επίσης και γελειολογίες με τον καντυλανάφτη.

Για διακοπές πήγαινα στην παραλία
Και
Με τα καλοκαιρινά μου άσπρα,
Και με την μαύρη μου ομπρέλα ηλίου
Κρεμάμενη απ’ τον δεξιό αγκώνα μου
Σύχναζα τα βιβλιοπωλία.

Και καθώς έκανα την παραλιακή μου βόλτα, σήκωνα τον ψίθυρο θαυμασμού των ανευυπόληπτων και
κουνούσα τα πηγούνια της λατρείας των.

“Α, να ο κύριος Ευστάθιος!”
Άκουγα κάποτε, κάποτε.
¨Ξέρετε, είναι Βυζαντολόγος. Ωραία εκκλησιαστική φωνή!”

Το ψαθωτό καπέλο μου προστάτευε
Το φαλακρό κρανίο μου απ τις
Υπεριώδεις ακτίνες του Ηλίου.

Μερικές φορές είχα και την τύχη
Να ξεθάψω σπάνια τεύχη κλασσικών σπουδών
Στα παλιατσίδικα των φτωχών.
Την περασμένη Τετάρτη παραδείγματος χάριν
βρήκα του Προκόπιου την “Ανέκδοτα”
Τεύχος του 1821!
Πράγματι, μια σπάνια χαρά!
Ηθολόγος.
Περιφρονούσα την ασωφρόνιστη οχλαγογία
Απ’ οποία αναδύθηκες εσύ,
όπως η Αφοδίτη αναδύθηκε απ τον αγνό αφρό.
Γιατί; Γιατί, μα γιατί τόκανες αυτό;
Για να με κάνεις έναν ακόρεστο σάτιρα ηδονής;
Δεν ντρέπεσαι;

Καλά πήγαινα να πάρει ο διάλος!
Καλά πήγαινα!

(What Devil sent you
to cross my path?

I was doing well!
I was a great professor of Philology,
Both of the English
And of the
Greek Literatures.

An honorable well-respected gentleman
Circumspect.

During the day I would perform post-mortems on the bodies
of serious poets and
in the evening — every evening — I would perform surgery on the bodies
of my students.

On Sundays, of course, I would prepare my soul for the infinite heavens
And
Every Sunday and during every religious festival
I would exercise my incomparable knowledge of the Byzantine music
by being a cantor in the church, often
correcting Father Vasilis’ misreading of the notes
and, for a humorous break I’d exchange jokes with the church’s caretaker

During the vacations I would go to the beach
And
Wearing my Summer whites and with my black
Sun umbrella hanging from the crook of my right arm
I would make frequent visits to the bookshops

And as I took my promenades along the beach
I would raise the whispers of admiration and move the adoring jaws of the uncouth.

“Ah, there goes Mister Eustathios!”
I would hear occasionally.
“He’s a Byzantrologist, you know. Great church voice!”

My straw hat would protect my bald head from the sun’s ultra-violet rays.

Occasionally I would be lucky enough to resurrect a rare tome or two
of classical works at the second-hand shops of the poor.
Last Wednesday, for example I found a copy of Procopiu’s “Secret History”,
Printed in 1821!
A very rare joy, indeed!

An Ethicologist.

I scorned the ignorant masses
From which you’ve emerged,
Emerged in the same way that Aphrodite emerged from the pure ocean froth.
Why? Why, but why did you do that?
So as to turn me into a shameless, insatiable satyr?
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?

I was doing well, damn it!
I was doing well!)

  1. Εκπλήρωση / Fulfillment

Βουτήξαμε τα κουπιά μας
Στον ωκεανό από φόβο και από πείσμα παρά από πειθώ
Και μια ψύχρα μας πλημμύρισε.
Τα σώματά μας ήταν σάρκες θαυμάσιες

Πλασμένα για έρωτα
Τι ξέραν αυτά από κουπιά;
Πίσω μας ακούσαμε τη φωνή του Διόνυσου, τρυφερή
Και γελαστή
Ειρωνική
Μας καλούσε.

Αλλά δε μας ξεγελούσε. Τον ξέραμε καλά
Τον Διόνυσο.
Τον ξέραμε καλά.
Μας κορόιδευε
Όπως κορόιδευαν οι σειρήνες τον Οδυσσέα.

Μας καλούσε να σηκώσουμε τα χέρια μας ψηλά
Και να παραδοθούμε πάλι στις ηδονές
Κιάλλης μιας μέρας του. Όπως πάντα,
Κιάλλης μια μόνο μέρας!
Μας καλούσε αλλά δε μας ξεγελούσε.
Βιαζόμασταν. Θέλαμε να αρνηθούμε πια τα
Θαυμάσια σώματά μας που δεν ήτανε παρά σάρκες
Πλασμένες απ αυτόν και πλασμένες μόνον για έρωτα.

Κάναμε τους ήρωες και κοροιδέψαμε τον
Διόνυσο όπως κορόιδεψε ο Οδυσσέας τον Πολύφημο
Αλλά μια ψύχρα πλημμύρισε μέσα μας.

Βουτήξαμε τα κουπιά μας
Στον ωκεανό περισσότερο από φόβο και
Πείσμα παρά από πειθώ.

Ήρωες δεν ήμασταν καιαυτό το ξέραμε καλά
Και ξέραμε επίσης καλά πως
Η ποινή της απάτης και της άρνησης ήταν βαριά.

Μπροστά μας το πέλαγος και
Πίσω αφήναμε τον Διόνυσο και μαζί του τις
Αρμυρές τώρα σάρκες μας.

Φοβηθήκαμε. Για τελευταία φορά
Κοιτάξαμε τα θαυμάσια σώματά μας
Σαν σάρκες πλασμένες για έρωτα
Και τα αποχαιρετήσαμε αυτά τα σώματα
Περισσότερο από φόβο και
Πείσμα παρά πειθώ.

Μόνο πεπωρωμένες καρδιές μπορούνε να ξεφύγουν
Τις προσκλήσεις του Διόνυσου
Καρδιές πέτρινες, απολιθωμένες, χωρίς συναισθήματα και συνειδήσεις
Και ο θυμός των θεών είναι φοβερός.

Βουτήξαμε τα κουπιά μας
Στον ωκεανό περισσότερο από φόβο και
Πείσμα παρά από πειθώ.

Οι παπαρούνες μας υποδέχτηκαν μ΄ανοιχτά τα πέταλα
Κι αμέσως πέσαμε ανάμεσά τους.
Εξαντλημένοι απ την φυγή, τον φόβο
Και το πείσμα.
Είχαμε φτάσει πια. Είχαμε πια ξεφύγει τον Διόνυσο.
Από τώρα και πέρα μόνο γαλήνη μπροστά μας.

Το ένα θαυμάσιο σώμα δίπλα στο άλλο.

Αλλά σάρκα για έρωτα πουθενά
Τις είχαμε ξεφύγει όλες.

Κοιμηθήκαμε βαριά μέχρι αργά το πρωί
Μέχρι που η τρομερή κνίσα μας ξύπνισε.
Ψάξαμε παντού όλη τη μέρα αλλά δε βρήκαμε τίποτα

Ξαναγύρισε η ψύχρα και αυτή τη φορά
Μας θύμησε τις αγελάδες που σφάξαν οι
Σύντροφοι του Οδυσσέα. Αυτή η ίδια κνίσα
Θάχε ξυπνήσει και τον Θακιό βασιλιά, κι αυτή
Η ίδια ψύχρα θα τον είχε πλημμυρίσει εκείνη τη μέρα.
Αυτή η ίδια απάτη του σώματος
Αυτή η ίδια άρνηση.

Και οι παπαρούνες δεν ήταν πια παπαρούνες αλλά
Ασφόδελοι και ενώ κάτω απ τα πόδια μας
Η γη ήταν πυκνή
Λάσπη, οι καρδιές μας ήταν πεπωρωμένες και εντελώς,
Εντελώς χωρίς πειθώ.

Τα καταφέραμε!

(We plunged our oars
Into the ocean waters more out of fear
and out of determination than out of
conviction
And a chill flooded our bodies.

Our bodies were created out of wondrous flesh
They were created for love
What did they know of oars?

Behind us we heard the voice of Dionysos,
a tender voice
a voice that was smiling at us
a voice that was teasing us
a voice that was calling us.

But he couldn’t trick us. We knew him well
This Dionysos god
We knew him very well.
He was trying to trick us
Just as the sirens tried to trick Odysseus

He was calling us to raise our hands and surrender
to the desires
of yet another one of his days. As he always did.
To the desires
of just one more day.

He was calling us but he wasn’t going to trick us.
We were in a hurry. We wanted to reject now
our wondrous bodies which, after all, were no more than
mere flesh
Created by him and created only for love.

We acted the heroes and we tricked Dionysos just as
Odysseus had tricked Polyphemous
But a chill flooded our bodies.

We plunged our oars
Into the ocean waters more out of fear
and out of determination rather than out of
conviction.

We were no heroes and that we knew very well
And we also knew very well that
the punishment of treachery and of rejection was weighty

Before us the sea and
behind us we were abandoning Dionysos and with him
our now briny flesh.

We were afraid. We looked at our wondrous bodies
for the last time.
Flesh created for love.

And we said goodbye to these bodies
More out of fear
and determination than out
of conviction.

Only real hearts of stone can escape
Dionysos’ invitations
Hearts of stone, petrified and free of emotion and
conscience.
And the anger of gods is terrible.

We plunged our oars
Into the ocean waters more out of fear
and out of determination rather than out of
conviction.

The poppies welcomed us with petals wide open
and we immediately fell among them
Exhausted from the flight, the fear
and the determination.
We have finally arrived. We have finally
escaped Dionysos.
From now on there will be serenity only.

One wondrous body next to another.

And we see no flesh created for love anywhere.
We have escaped them all.

We slept heavily until late in the morning
Until a dreadful smell of burned fat woke us up.
We searched everywhere all day but we found nothing.

And the chill returned and this time it reminded us
of the cattle slaughtered by Odysseus’ mates.
This same dreadful smell must have awoken
the Ithacan King and this same dreadful chill
would have flooded him that day.

This same treachery of the body
This same rejection.

And the poppies were no longer poppies but
Asphodels and while the earth beneath our feet
was dense mud
Our hearts were now of stone and totally
totally without conviction
We have made it!)

  1. Σφουγγάρια / Sponges

Στάθηκα μπροστά στο πανί για
ώρες πάλι σήμερα μα τα πινέλα μου δεν είχαν όρεξη
Ή
Δεν μπορούσαν σήμερα.
Όχι σήμερα!

Οι κραυγές του Αιγαίου ερχόταν
Αδύνατες και σιγανές όλη τη μέρα
Ανίμπορες να διαπεράσουν τη σφιχτή και
Πιχτή ατμόσφαιρα γύρω μου.

Ζητώ με την αγωνία της γοργόνας
Απ΄όλους που ταξιδεύουν για την
Ελλάδα να μου φέρουν στον γυρισμό τους
Σφουγγάρια απ΄τα βάθη
Της θάλασσάς της.

Φοβάμαι, σαν και την γοργόνα πως μια μέρα
Θα γυρίσουν οι τουρίστες με άδεια χέρια και θα μου πουν
Πως το Αιγαίο άδειασε πια
Ή
Πως κουράστηκαν οι σφουγγαράδες.
Τί θα κάνουν τότε τα πινέλα μου;

(I stood in front of the canvas for
many hours again today, but my brushes had no desire
Or
They just couldn’t today.
Not today!

All day the cries from the Aegean came
Weak and soft
Unable to penetrate through the tight and
Dense air around me.

With the anxiety of the mermaid I ask all
who travel to Greece to bring me back
Sponges from the depths of her sea.

I am afraid, as was the mermaid that one day
These tourists will return with empty hands
and they will tell me that the Aegean is now empty of sponges
Or
That the sponge divers are tired.
What will my brushes do then?)

  1. Τα Κεράσια / The Cherries

Μου φέρανε τα μαβιά κεράσια. Ήταν
Δεμένα τόνα στ’ άλλο με μικρούς
Κόμπους. Με πολύ μικρούς κόμπους.

Κόμπους που μου φάνηκε μεγάλο κακούργημα να τους σπάσω
Με την ίδια ανέδεια του Μεγ’ Αλέξανδρου.
Μικρός ο κόμπος
που μας ενώνει
Και αποφεύγω το μίσος και την
Βια.

(They brought me the purple cherries. They were
Tied, one to the other with tiny
knots. With very small knots.

Knots which had me thinking that it would be a great crime
to break them with the arrogance of Alexander the Great.
Tiny is the knot that unites us
And I avoid hatred and
Violence.)

  1. Η Eντομολόγος / The Entomologist

Έζησε και πέθανε σαν εντομολόγος
Κάθε άνδρας κι ένα έντομο,
Χρήσιμο για την συλλογή της.
Για να πλουτίσει την συλλογή της,
Για να δώσει κάποιο σκοπό στην ύπαρξη της
Συλλογής της.

Ίσως ακόμα και για να τα μελετήσει, να τα καταλάβει
τέλως πάντων αυτά τα έντομα,
αυτά τα περίεργα όντα με τα ακατανόητα
ήθη και έθημά τους.

Ήταν μια καλή εντομολόγος, όπως και τα έντομα
ήταν απ τα πιο σπάνια.
Ηγέτες όλοι τους, πολιτικοί, θρησκευτικοί
Ηγέτες της κοινωνίας, του μέγα εμπορίου
και τα λοιπά, και τα λοιπά, και τα λοιπά!

Κάθε άνδρας κι ένα δείγμα, με τα δικά του
ιδιαίτερα σημεία ταυτότητας και ικανότητας.
Με τους δικούς του τρόπους
και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά!

Και όλοι τους είχαν τις ολόιδιες και εξ ίσου επίγουσες
ανάγκες.
Ολόιδιες και εξ ίσου φτωχές φαντασίες.

Για τα είκοσι ένα της γενέθλια και όταν είχε πια βαρεθεί
τα διαμάντια τους και τα χρυσάφια τους
και τα μωρουδίστικα σαλιαρίσματα
και τις γκρίνιες
και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά,
Η εντομολόγος έκανε ένα τσάι -το αγαπημένο της Ερλ Γρέυ
και, με την άνεση και ηρεμία ενός αθάνατου,
Έβαλε στη σειρά τα πενήντα χάπια και σιγα-σιγά και
ήρεμα τα ήπιε
Δύο-δύο, με την βοήθεια του Ερλ Γκρέυ.

Ύστερα σηκώθηκε απ’ το τραπέζι
Και με την ικανοποίηση
Ενός εντομολόγου που έχει βρει και το τελευταίο
Δείγμα της συλλογής του
Πήγε στο κρεβάτι μ’ ένα βιβλίο στο χέρι.

Για πρώτη φορά στη ζωή της
Το κρεβάτι αυτό ήταν δικό της
Μόνον δικό της και
Ήταν άδειο απο τα μωρουδίστικα σάλια και τις γκρίνιες
και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά!

Αλλά δεν πρόφτασε να ανοίξει το βιβλίο:
Ο Θάνατος την αγκάλιασε με τον ίδιο ενθουσιασμό που την αγκάλιαζαν αυτά τα έντομα.
Και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά!

Μετά από την κηδεία, τα έντομα
Έχασαν για λίγο την ισοροπία τους
“Άχ καλέ τί θα κάνουμε τώρα χωρίς την εντομολόγο μας;”
Ρώτησε ένα έντομο.
Και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά!

Ναι, για λίγο καιρό λιγοτρελάθηκαν
Τελικά όμως πέταξαν και το τελευταίο κουρέλι
Της υποκρισίας τους και σκορπίστηκαν όλα τους
Στα ακριβότερα μπουρδέλα της πόλης.

(She lived and died like an entomologist
each man an insect,
each, useful for her collection
To enrich her collection
To give some purpose to the existence of her
Collection.

Perhaps even so as to study them, in case
to understand these insects.
These odd creatures with their incomprehensible
ethics and customs.

She was a good entomologist, as were the insects
also of the rarest kinds
All of them leaders in politics, in religion
Leaders of society, of the world of the Mega Trade
Etc, etc, etc!

And they all had exactly same urgent needs.
Exactly the same impoverished imagination.

For her twenty first birthday and she had had enough of their diamonds and their gold trinkets
and their baby dribbling
And their whining
etc, etc, etc

The entomologist made a cup of tea, her beloved Earl Grey
and with the comfort and the serenity of an immortal
Placed fifty pills in a row and slowly
and serenely swallowed them all.
Two by two, with the aid of the Earl Grey.

Then she got up from the table
And with the satisfaction of an entomologist who had
found the very last sample she needed for her collection
Went to her bed with a book in her hand.

For the very first time in her life
This bed was hers
Only hers and
It was empty of the baby dribbling and the whines
Etc, etc, etc!

But she didn’t manage to open the book.
Death embraced her with the same enthusiasm that
her insects embraced her.)

7 Responses to Marble Seasons

  1. Warrigal says:

    I should have visited here long ago.

    I’ve just read “Age” and I’m beginning to see….

    • Which article, Warrigal? The one on the Greek debt?

    • Warrigal says:

      Dopey indeed.

      I fear it may be some years yet Mou. The penny we’re all waiting for won’t drop until the current economic mess can be understood.

      The problem is that the mess is a little like dark matter. It’s everywhere, and no-one really knows what it is or how it actually works.

      But I see glimmers of sanity. The government here is looking to set up a Super inquiry if they can get the opposition to stop bleating about market interference, as though the market has done us any bloody good lately. Reading between the lines one of the problems they’ve identified is the same one we’re all worried about. If we are required by an act of the commonwealth to give our money to market wide boys, how can we ensure that those wide boys don’t blow it again, like they did between 2000 and 2007.

      Now let me think; who was in power in the western hegemony during those years?

      I also think that what we’re witnessing is a massive failure of belief in, and a political will to act on, those things that we all know must be done, and which will involve a certain amount of sacrifice and hardship as the changes roll through. For this to change positively we need a new political playbook and unfortunately I see no one amongst the current crop of pollies here capable of writing that playbook. So we wait and live in hope.

      Greed and ignorance, welded to self interest, is a diabolical foe.

      • Quite so, Warrigal, I’m afraid you’re absolutely right about the need for a new political creed. One that is wedded to morality and divorced from markets and the wide boys, as you, so colorfully put it. This creed is far too polluted, too penetrated, too screwed by the greedy and the ignorant. Bastards have become far too powerful and now only their sock puppets can enter the hallowed halls of policy making.
        I, too, see no one for at least a couple of generations -which is as far as anyone can see- who’ll have the rhetorical “audacity” and strength to clean these filthy augean stables from this muck. I see no moral Hercules entering the political scene -damned near anywhere on the planet!
        We shall wait in hope…

      • Warrigal says:

        My view is that if it takes more than the current generation, the whole problem will be moot, as concerns about matters political and economic are burned up, washed away, and blown in the wind in the climate catastrophe that will surely come if we don’t get our poo in a pile; sooner than later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s