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[See also individual posts on each poem]

From Famagusta Reigning City (1982)
 
BEGINNING OF THE INDICTION
 
Who Pnytagoras is, we all know
or at least we all could learn
(they say he was a king of Salamis).
But Pnytagoras Street, my precious Pnytagoras’,
in-between Timios Stavros and Hagia Zoni,
what that is, I and only I can know. Woe is me:
I envy the rats of this road,
the stray dogs, the wild cats,
which coming from Acropolis Street and descending
into Pentelis’ and Hilarion’s disembogue
into my very own Street of Pnytagoras — lucky lads!
 
I wish I could be my house’s rat,
the stray dog that enters my garden,
and the wild cat that’s opening the fridge
to find his forgotten piece of chicken.
 
If only I could be the snake and the nettle,
the tree that withered, the broken door,
amaranthine yearning falling dead
to sleep in the webs of a spider.
 

From Dome (1989)
 
CHILD WITH A PHOTOGRAPH
 
A child with a photograph in hand,
a photograph in the profundity of his eyes,
held upside down, was staring.
 
Around the child a crowd; and he
had in his eyes a small photograph,
a big one on his shoulders and vice versa —
a big one in his eyes, upon his shoulders a smaller one,
and in his hand one even smaller still.
 
He was amid a crowd screaming chants
and he was holding it upside down; it troubled me.
 
I approach him bypassing signs
of loved ones or arcs and voices
frozen in time and all completely inert.
 
The photograph bore some resemblance to his father.
I set it straight, and still I saw
the missing man with his head upside down.
 
Just like the king, the jack and the queen,
which, seen upturned, are found to be straight,
this man, as well, when looked at straight,
turns upside down and stares.
 
 
AT HIS DAUGHTER’S WEDDING
 
She had three hundred acres of occupied land,
and a father in the depths of Anatolia.
 
Thankfully, she was marrying a nice lad.
 
During the holy ceremony
nobody took notice of her father.
He crept in through the narthex stealthily and stood
behind a column, taking pride.
Then he wiped off using his sleeve
his torn and humble tear.
They took him for the village idiot
and let him be.
 
Concluded are the nuptials, and may your marriage be blessed.
Wedding candy in hand, they enter
each their own car, and they are off.
 
The loving father in his turn proceeds
to the Green Line, crosses over bowing his head,
he takes once again his place in the ground.
 
 
From Metahistory (1995)
 
ARDANA II
 
Ι could not speak to her in Turkish.
–  Do you speak English?
–  I can understand.
–  Is this my house?
–  This is your house.

And I started weeping in my sleep. That cry of farewell. But my sobs were rocking me like a cockleshell, so I woke up, Pylades.

My bed was moist — could the dream be leaking from its roof? We two can see that, know that, live that even: “Our army is gone!” Nothing remains, no ship in sight, no land, no home, my friend. 

And yet the front door was the same, the narrow street the same, the well the same, the carob tree, the clay oven, the tractor, and the fold, all were the same. And I had no relation with the house. I did not recognize it. I was standing inside its yard and I was feeling so uncomfortable; I bet, if you could see me, you would break down in tears.

Inside my yard, and yet I was no longer in my home, no longer in my village — an alien, whose soul just could not rest in peace.
– Τί φῄς; Outside your house and you couldn’t even recognize it, is that true?
–  It was no longer mine; it was not. The house I was born in, Pylades! I even asked her: “Madam, is this the house I was born in?” And the Turkish woman told me: “Yes, this is it.”

What a mystery! How did she know this was the house, where I first saw the light of day, how could she be so certain?
 
 
From Desire (2012)
 
AGAMEMNON
 
“There is a sea  — and who shall ever dry it up?”

AESCHYLUS, Agamemnon
Mouth of Clytemnestra kissing
the sleepless, purple carpet:
—   The sea, the sea! And who shall ever dry it up completely?
—   I will, her husband says, I’ll be the one to dry it.
—   Give me some talk about the yard, oh ye, the mighty captain.
—   Right in the mid there is a tree heavy with luscious lemons,
     and if you tear their song apart, lemons again you’ll find.
— You are my man, she says to him, whom I’ll be keening over.
 
 
From In the Language of Weaving (2013)
 
ORESTES
 
The oracle of Christ the Counselor and of Apollo
prescribes that I deliver my mother
in the grove of holy Helicon
and with my unequivocal hand
and with the arguments of my blade                                          5
that I point her to death.
 
The naked[i] voices of her breasts scare me not
nor do they check the vehemence
whereby the axis of horror I shall set
in the center of the wail.                                                            10
 
Let others say that I lack the passion
and that I dry my blood; but what?
In truth, it’s all about justice
lost in the sand and sinking
buried where the great sun hides                                              15
his columnar fire, his epaulettes of gold. 
 
Tityos, Tantalos, and Sisyphos,
Scylla, with her six necks
her three rows of teeth
and her twelve legs, do not suffice                                               20
to imprint the idol of injustice.
 
The snake in Aulis devours nine sparrows
nine-year-old bulls sow the bag
of Aeolus with their hides —
                                               it’s all tall tales                                25
as solid and real
as the ghost of Odysseus’ mother
down in Hades, which slips away three times
from the hero’s embrace, his labors gone to no avail.
 
In the entrails of logic there is no mercy                                     30
and dire like iron is the necessity
to whip amidst the agitation
Poseidon’s horses with the bow
of Apollo the far-shooter, who encloses
every emotion in the center of the mind.                                     35
 
               ***
Words of the bosom, they moisten fate,
how could they ever hope to make the soul of great
Orestes kneel, who stands aside wringing dry
the courage of his phorminx,
the caresses of his hirsute father                                                  40
and his nobility, alas, as soon as he sees
his fairy of a mother bearing on her shoulder
tattoos of nocturnal indulgence.
 
How much, how deep inside, he wishes to blacken
the jolt of knavery, with a hand that crosses                                45
a thousand centuries like a falling star,
yet on his back the mulberry bids him to calm down.
 
And if a tear that hesitates splits him in two,
still he rationalizes the right
diamond of his passion with the bile                                            50
of an order that does not throb in human fashion.
 
The danger of choice is now his:
a moment which lasted for three hundred years
in the grove of black poplars
and in a bath where the blood-stained                                         55
goddess of snakes had begotten yet again
her oxen-eyed virginity.
 
You, who slayed your husband with a double axe,
run fast to Hades like a Maiden,
a Bride and a Widow, an Empousa of a copper sandal          60
and don’t turn back to look at
my left hand and the golden bands
that tie on my side two necks
scaly ampoules with the blood
of Medusa or of the sacred bull.                                                    65
 
May I not be contorted by vertigo, may you not avoid being consumed
by a drop of ruination, discharging a counterpoising dribble.
For I shall chain my anger,
lest it escapes, and on a platter I shall place
your breasts, like those of Tiepolo’s Agathe,                               70
and the umbilical cord I shall tear asunder.
 
               ***
Words of Orestes, staged words:
‘I wish I had a different Clytemnestra for a mother,
to lighten the fame of her Passion
so that by death, a demigod, she might be covered.’                   75
 
Words of the Chorus: “If you want to put your mother to death,
first kill her godlike face deep inside you
batter it on the ground, make it an octopus,
while her epiphany rises before you
and while the gods are moving prodded                                  80
by your own emotions, refracting
leaves, trunk and catharsis of passions.”
 
 
 

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