(κι άλλος Ασλάνογλου στο “ποιείν”)


Where do we go in this welter
in the middle of the night

Beloved image
travelling North

Ships and lights
across the sea

The road along the shore deserted

Where do we go

Why so sluggish the night
why so deep the sky

Darkness everywhere
the night denuded

Lucid image
lost in the night

we shall follow
the path
of stars

To each his own star
his own happiness
his own tears
No smile
nothing more


the town is deep in snow

Loves and crystals
make for the dark

Where shall I rest my head
to observe the silence of the trees
to feel love

Where shall I rest my head


I hear you coming

You bring memories of empty days
hair never on offer
hand never subdued

A shadowy figure
my eyes cloud over
my throat downs
never-embodied sobs

Now you sink into my every crack


Sorrowful unto death, I am

You go by in the distance laden with years of silence
autumn evenings in empty squares
years of a love now dead

You go by
and you remind me of the veinʼs throb on the wrist
body I felt
sea of an aged expectation

Just a cigarette in your mouth
smoking a world of abandonment

The port is quiet tonight
the loaded ships are sleeping
the nightʼs shadows on the cobblestones of sin

I no longer sense that you are going by


The road speaks not
travels not

In the still hour
I love the lads
with mirror eyes

in the North
in the South


You came on a blue afternoon
in spring when the trees are in fruit
your hair colouring the windʼs undulation

You came, good and simple, a native to the seas and vineyards
of the sun
your teeth shine with song, your voice breaks like crystal
and your laughter bodes a naked summer
and you are warm meridional France
your eyes are drops of light, reflections of a childish smile

And having thus met you in the first spring
white pleated silk by the seaside

may you always be the one that never recalls years of
but remain inside me modern music
that flows with the Seine at night


Among the dusty papers exposed by the sun
strange room, northern fragrance, fuzzy figures
on the same ground, breath-blurred glasses

I touched a yellowed page
wing of a ʼ48 memory

Marks for Latin and ancient subjects
langues vivantes, sciences naturelles

The traveller who left the day before
left traces of the North on my fingers

The memory of him will dissolve
in a summerʼs sadness


This night has proved the most brackish. I drank it
in sips thinking to myself
that whatever is offered doesnʼt play with omission marks
doesnʼt speak the language of return Iʼll be back with the first
rains in autumn

This night yet another one made tracks. He vanished
there where you extinguish your lights one by one in the sky
and nothing is destined for another beginning

And here I am thinking of this night, unable to speak
eyes moist, mouth moist, hair dripping wet
like the windows of a third class railway carriage
and you see vaguely that nothing is worthwhile anymore
in your lax hands and loose hair


It was a difficult compromise, to give up, the evening breeze
combing his hair. What if he gave the last kiss
the fever burnt his mouth; what if pieces of silver make for better living;
death was the sole acquiescence

But I felt with him in his desperate move. He was my friend
heʼd see me in his troubled sleep and start up. He picked me
out among the anonymous crowd and shook my hand – “I never
disclaimed responsibility,” he said
“I never had second thoughts, I know only too well what truth


I was always dubious of spring. That vagueness
about the flower beds and the quivering
and childrenʼs voices in the playing field as the afternoon
distills the light
and my friends waiting for summer, what if afterwards they
into a noontide sea with a faded sun
a polished gem glowing in the night. My beloved city
bustling but desolate, crowded but removed: a shop window of
fancy goods
commercializing our lives.
This feminine season
acrid, an odd old woman, with glib discussions
get-togethers, lack of understanding, infinite loneliness
and the nightmare that one day weʼll wake up having nothing
to say –
Among these footsteps they come and go
And fade away in the corridor; they switch the light on the
but thereʼs no one to be heard.


I donʼt know whether by reaching this landmark, in the warm night,
anything can be distinguished other than the asphalt with its dry
pepper trees;
the dusty sun at day, the buses along their fixed route, the electric
lights at night.
Weʼve lived through our green years like the closed withered love of a
young girl; until now
they wounded us, but this was because of the costly sacrifice, they
tormented us,
but this was because of the secret gratification.
So many scattered hopes on this frontier, so much heedless movement
amid light that distorts our faces, under a sky
that cannot wait

The spot weʼve reached finds us where weʼve always been. Limping
through dubious relationships and again limping.
In this landscape there is much movement, emotions are measured,
scanty and inconstant, as you watch it sliding away and disappearing
amid the multicoloured lights. I donʼt know what remains now,
as I gaze with a false eye, articulating words with borrowed voice

*”Butterfly” 1951: The name of a confectionery shop in Thessaloniki frequented at the time by writers and athletes.


The beginning glows strangely in my memory. Itʼs the glimmering
behind the night when light retreats from corners
like a telephone network and you hear
an incoherent void through the open lines,
an ecstasy of muddled voices through the wires,
at night in the station with the sea for company,
two or three rocks and an open bay without horizon
and the sun like a sorrowful Sunday amid the Citadels.

I shanʼt forget this glimmering by the station,
the passion that surpasses the enjoyment of the body and changes
from flesh into spiritual agony,
the agony brought by muted voices to the threshold of night,
the agony that loneliness brings close to the other person, the
within the other, the loneliness within the otherʼs passion.

Everything ends at the last frontier,
lights in the barracks grow dim
and soft footsteps fade away. Pray
for the sentries that keep watch all night

*Litohoron Station: The railway station of a seaside village on the fringes of Mount Olympus.


When shadows lower in the wards
of the empty hospital and my soul
reverts to the open wounds, pain
hallows my heart and purifies
my spirit. Also, transfusing
writhing into freedom, I receive
Godʼs blessing as you sweetly
sprinkle my clothes with carmine blood
like drizzle in the first
shiver of frosty weather
thus I stood
guard again and held
the rifle tight as Athens
flickered her coloured lights – and yet I knew
how to stifle pain inside me and ignite
endurance to a sweet mature experience
to smother a sob and assume
responsibility for others
but now I see
my world crumbling with your loss


As the convoy rolls downhill
its headlights in a vertiginous motion
and you switch off your lights in the lights of others, ecstatic
in your sweet loss – so now
do I lie heavier within you and remain
a solitary bird on the asphalt watching terrified
your light scintillating in my own
dipped lights
as when
you sip from a crystal glass
the most expensive drink and the music and all the lights
overwhelm you, kindling your precious love
unto a wondrous beauty and you glimmer
in the horror of a hideous moment – so once again
will I welcome you to your hometown, burning
a low breathless flame
and when
the soldiers fading in the advancing night
tuned in to faraway stations suddenly skim over
fragments of blaring music – so now
among motor cars and street noises
do I hear the eerie shriek of your voice
multiplying desperation within me and see
the most frenzied beauty suffocating
amid the voices of spring and dying


Sometimes in the advanced night I would see
a lonely dead-end street skirting houses
and quietly disappearing among courtyards. And I was
as if lost in my own music, living constantly
in fantasy and delusion

But now in the gathering darkness, I hear
like an oncoming procession through the crimson cloud all sorts
of noises from afar, combat troops, irresponsible children
coastguardsmen and pedlars
they come quietly, shuffling along, to lay claim
to whatever Iʼve saved, heirlooms and mementos, but most of
they want Myron whom they killed and now
seek responsibilities, shouting and tearing up
their clothes
And so now I see
a lonely dead-end street being swamped
as the night advances through awareness
of a thoughtlessly spent sacrifice


As time passes and I advance even
deeper into acceptance, the more do I discern
why you acquire weight and attain the significance
people give to ruins. Here where everything
is swept clean, marbles and stones and history,
you remain with your fervid breathing to remind us
of a passing amid beauty, the remembrance
of him who fell imperceptibly silent within me,
writhing in his own downfall and even
in that of others who unwittingly lapse into a deep sleep.

As time passes and I advance deeper
into a still autumn that in mellowing cleanses
the pavements with light, the more do I see
in the sunʼs gilted gift an abandoning
of all I have waited for and never received, of all
they asked me for and I declined, possessing nothing, of all
I squandered thoughtlessly, until now
I remain only a stranger, a man in tatters.
But when
within fragmented memory I rummage through
ruins, I find a profound answer as to why marbles
and stones and history remain to remind us
of your passing amid beauty – a secret answer
to all I have waited for and never received


What numbs me evermore and leads you
to your doom and myself ignores
keeping my hands and mind
undecided, in guilty repose
seeing convicts pass
from the small hours to nighttime
through familiar quarters, and what is worse
you also wandering among them, I know
it canʼt be death. Because it absorbs
breaths in the music of sleep, disarms
anguish and reconciles dreaming
with incandescent memory, and all becomes
a brilliant staging
What for years kept me
idle and infirm, almost helpless
with the easing of a long illness, is
blind attachment to images, and yet
a strange urge to be consumed


How through lasting illness pain matures
and mollifies him, and the odd persistence
gently breaks in us being consumed
unto the worldʼs frontier; for he trembles
on the wet asphalt and I see emerging
from the roadʼs clefts the same victim
flayed, mangled and multicoloured
writhing beneath the lights and ads

O Lord, with your own wheels help me
be consumed in the quiet afternoon
for he has been betrayed and condemned
to a mock trial. So now
at first light do I hear his unceasing
laughter in the void, his body bending forward
and falling like a playing card into the stream

Help me be used up to the utmost
thus occupying a spot forever
in his perforated mind


I want the poem to be night, a ramble
along back alleys and arterial roads
where life dances. I want it to be
a struggle, not a crescendo musical passage
but passion for the inner expression of incoherence,
of an escapade burning up
if we donʼt stake everything

When mindless others are willing
to waste themselves or prepare to die
at dusk, all night long I search for unsullied
tesserae in the quotidian monologue
however worn out, glimmering
in their pitch darkness like animalcules
random, slain by meaning
sprinkled with emotion


I am worse than a tramp, an artiste
at least they have a life, they donʼt tarry
but whatever I secure, becomes a smoke screen
for what I desire – and indeed an expiation
for suffering or surviving an ideal affair

But the other one is inaccessible, because
he is not just body and understanding
but an inimitable voice. And if I advance
obliquely inside him, appalled will I see him
remaining an onlooker. He is not
prepared to share or suffer
and so forfeit his secure little freedom.
He plays safe and invites you only if you sign
that youʼll respect everything, and especially
his secure little freedom


“What do you want now, in the early spring,
igniting hell to an endless rhythm…”

I kept thinking. But then she arrived. And the smoke
and the instruments smothered her as she drifted
in midair across the tables and yet
crawling on the floor, blind drunk, raped
to the limit of endurance, dancing
frenziedly and flopping about, breaking
cheap dinner sets to pieces. Hidden cracks
shone on her body, betraying
thousands of nights that she unscrupulously gave herself
like a piece of furniture. And then
she started singing a heart-rending song
amid the broken china and spilled
glasses. And her voice spread
like a polyphonic organ inside me, quivering
in the half-light and fading away.
But he
stared silently into space and his beauty
prevailed like a distant sea, his soul
hushed awaiting the end


I thought of abandoning in this deluge
all that I rightfully owned, acquired after much toil
in years of debility, and leave indifferent
in incendiary spring, multiplying the wrecks

For I saw Christ passing late at night
with his insane beauty, bumming
in Chrissanthi Bar and suddenly falling silent
with frenzy, seeking to put an end
to his endless suffering. And I saw him
insatiable, unquenchable, strangling
what was left of his humanity and all day long
washing his hands with a grin on his face
and sobered up playing cards since early morning
and returning drunk in the middle of the night

And I thought of abandoning in the incendiary
the last spring, counting more wrecks


Rain is falling on the bumpy road and your voice
dissolves in the water and I canʼt hear you
only do I see you sharing out your body
passionately, endlessly, as if you yourself
were drowned. And you pay no heed to the final
night, what will be left of you to give
when we gather round you waiting
for the signal: “Disperse inside me, turn on
all the lights, pray, and above all
await me vigilant.”
But this endless
wasting of your body, whatʼs there left
of you to share out on the final night


Whoever took refuge in my intoxicated soul while looking for
a secluded house, a vacant lot or a weedy
road in a working-class district, will find me tonight
as though abstracted in the large playing field. Now
that rain falls in the early evening and the city slackens
its looms, the playing field quietly spreads
its turf, a mowed sea. Untrodden
soil and sounds absorb the rain. Everything returns
to its unbeginning, amid love

Sometimes I fancy the playing field in Kieri
becoming a prematurely buried virtue, and the cheering
in a basketball game from the tiers to the players
being wrung in the twilight as everything returns
to its unbeginning, amid love

It is a playing field washed by rain that shelters me


The farther I go into the hinterland
nothing erases from my eyes
the eternal parting. Through deep valleys, muddy
with rain, comes the whisper of sun and sea
toppling into a tight, ideal embrace

How they shine amid their ashes, heʼd say, how
they deepen the heart, severing
fingers and nerves, they dig
deep inside the earth for minefields

But I, as I advanced into the hinterland, saw
in memoryʼs conflagration ashes amid lights


I know, it isnʼt worth dwelling too long
upon nothingness. And yet, years
from now, Myron will become music and lights
the blood and laughter of a child, sown
fields and seas, and the eyes of all children
will recall him leaning over like corn
in the drizzle on the pavements. He,
an unequalled voice inside me, will remain silent
kindling beauty in the slain meaning
that life contains. For I saw with what
fortitude he was bedded forever, whispering:
“I was too young to die, I shall return each
summer for as long as you exist, and afterwards
all with cease.”
Dear God, you are preparing
a deceptive world, untroubled for my passing


Evenings you flower again my dusty sea
plains carriages and stations deserted countryside
lighted by gaslight

Nights you flower again old farm of mine
eyes open misty thought full of sadness

In the memory you flower again and wither anew
when the verdant shores become unbearable
when summer in the plain dries up


What if you ruined the playing field? My heart is
a red brick and building material
like a harmonica in the demolition

What if the sun parches this plain?
Iʼll turn into fresh fruit, an evening flower
sprouting your childish eyes

What if rain falls at the station? Iʼll drag
your music through the debris
like drained water in the sink


Be you a man be you a factory
be you a fair modern town

For me you are fatigue at night
a silenced machine
a shaky voice

You are my pitcher for a summer


All summer long you danced, my soul
what traffic lights donʼt signal so

You spread out your body in the midday sun
you bathed your eyes in the trees and the plain
you rolled on the sand, slighted the sky
you danced till dawn on the seashore
among crowds gramophones and sorrow

For just one summer you danced, my soul


I made a stopover in the provinces between
the thirsty sky and the beaches
transient like leaves and trees
transient like cattle in the plain

The roses across the hedge, the children
hugging each other in the sun, the waterfront
and your childish flesh in bygone days
a confused sweet conversation


The sea scouts set off at dawn. In the misty morning
they waved goodbye to me in their boats. Navigators
in blue uniforms ahoy

Thus will I set off each time and return
even more sick and tired – and yet again
I will set out to find you, a suntanned
figure of the unknown, music that longs
to flourish one day, to become
a lucid memory across the waters


A rolling stone gathers no moss
and yet thereʼs nothing here to keep me

Like a travelling salesman with a sunken heart
Iʼll barnstorm one village after another
my profit being substantial the more I suffer

I shall no longer settle in one place
I have tasted all kinds of fruits
they rot once I root inside them


No poster or wall shall bear witness
to your gentle flow through the vein

You fall unassumingly like drizzle
among the dead leaves

No musicianʼs mattock shall find you
so deep in the blood


I see the sea opening out to you
gentle traveller of the sky
crouched on my beaches

I see a camp for you on high
organ player of an extinct age
who animates on the screen
my memory among your childhood years

Alone I am benighted here


We have inherited the hearts of children
with their slight sudden failures

At dusk they fall like rose petals
scenting terraces and windows
bleeding on the quiet pored over books

How many of them donʼt illuminate us still


You return to places that have changed you

Coffeehouses are too seedy to quench your thirst
now that youʼve acquiesced in misfortune
and the sea is glistening and the villages are deserted

Where are you to look for him on the beaches or in the deep
where will you find his fair-skinned corpse


Poetry doesnʼt change our life
the same tightness, the rainʼs knot
the foggy town when night falls

It doesnʼt stop advanced decay
doesnʼt cure our past mistakes

Poetry retards metamorphosis
it makes our daily deed more trying


Véria, Elassóna, Dráma – towns I loved, shut in
between highlands or small settlements
houses outcropping from the plain

I came to know you at twilight in cloisters
or in antique beds where I dossed down for a time
with persons who left some sign, a few bones
strange tenure, all innocence, full of trust

Trust in what? Neither the second lieutenant remained
nor those who were ordained and so debarred
a lad was loved only to emigrate
people I hugged at stations, lonely people

Towns that bore me, shut in like orchards
cotton gins of a single crop, I see what you have offered


We walked together in silence, Dimitris and I, towards the
small railway station. Véria lay behind us hidden in the haze, and tongue-tied we observed the smoky atmosphere in the gloaming

There, in that lonely expanse, we could hear the warble of
cotton gins. Dull at first, gradually the hum increased, almost carrying us away. Through the windows, lights and machines allowed us to see the separation. The ginned fruit slid into a heap beside us, amid a cloud of white dust. I still remember his eyes, as if misted with tears

Then did I realize that harvestime was over. And what we had to give had been almost wasted


One warm cloudy morning
an arrhythmic mind and heart
and a feeling that I hadnʼt long to live
took me to familiar shut in landscapes

Returning to farmsteads, embankments
and deserted coffee houses
I sat down wondering why such preoccupation

with this garden where old Kosmas
a retired merchant hung himself with his dog


I crush my way through efflorescent voices

O suburban coaching schools behind yards and worksites
in the afternoon to the rolling of bicycles
I feel the damp echo of a cloudburst
coming through my weary pride

The years go by, unprincipled people greet us with a smile
factory workers are on the night shift
trains puff and blow like children grown old
lights and whispers in airless spring

And all alone in the twilight I endure
inertia that every night obliterates the mellow light
the daily flow, the working mother
the affable neighbours, the sleepy art lovers
dead arsenals of anonymous poets

In a small schoolroom where I forgot myself


One night Iʼll go off on an endless journey, Iʼll nestle the city in
my arms and drown in an eddy of coloured waters

Narcosis or death, I canʼt tell. Through the tears I shanʼt know
anymore why I wished it or if I failed. My bags will
carry my body seawards, onto the shoals, beyond the old
railway station. Sand and dry stone walls

Trainsʼ whistle and the plain all around, and Iʼll never
understand why you were both an informer and an

Running water will prevent me from seeing you again. One
night we shall love each other forever. Like the sea and the sky


Remember that line she wrote, “If my child is stillborn,
itʼll be yours.”

What saddens me is not your eyes
drops of light play on the window
nor your lips
they paint the joints with watercolours and move on to other
your rich hair and your shoulders
they too endure their long-standing sorrow

What consumes me on the edge of a calm sea
under the yellow poplars is the thought of you
that men shall always be fresh-born
what drive me to desperation are the poems
written by you they obey their metallic sound
in memoryʼs aimless processing
they donʼt belong to me nor are they of this world

Iʼve known this sea as a child. I wander forlorn
in expectation of a stillborn poem
itʼll be yours


Travelling in the cool night, where the dead
call out to me or what strangers coming from afar
across illuminated cities and the sea
the more freely am I immersed into the worldʼs vigorous body

I long less for the dust in my old bedrooms
the afternoonʼs frozen glow in the empty rooms


In the eyes of an animal I see best the space
where I met you returning home ailing and alone
in the footprints of your lost age

And the city regards you no more as you irrigate
the industrial zones on the west coast
seeking a breath of fresh air in cafes
for this poetry thatʼs dying out inside me
back, on trams of a lost terminal


I found him with the shutters shut, in a small flat near Kalamaria, not
far from the sea, where he was about to breathe his last. That he couldnʼt make a name for himself, he attributed to living for so long with his bed-ridden mother; to having come into a sudden fortune: years of reckless spending on travels and pleasures; to an unfortunate coincidence, the gradual corrosion of the bones and his misgivings about the time-honoured values with which he had been raised.

He had no difficulty injecting his arm with a painkiller. Poker-faced –
neither heroism nor resistance – a casual optimism for a life without surprises or ecstasy, “Because thatʼs all there is on this earth.”

I listened to him recounting his days in the neighbouring slips. He was engaged in repairs: “Imagine, I can still use my hands – thatʼs the whole meaning, how else explain to you.”

I wept for my old schoolmate. In the incredible mess around the house, even the sunny landscape was now frayed. “Ideal for a poem,” he said, pressing my hand weakly.


The bruises are blooming again. They appear
briefly and pass on with the rain
they sprout with a kiss and afterwards fade away.

Thatʼs why I feel dejected when I finger them
they linger awhile before vaporizing
along with your kiss, lost
forever in the flow of time.