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PART I

THE BIRDS

Loving your neighbour
as you love yourself
means
loving yourself
as you donʼt love your neighbour.

This is crazy talk, I know
but Iʼve got both my eyes.

Published in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Edited by Dino Siotis
The Coffeehouse, 11-12. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.

LULLABY

O sweet Spring
my sweetest child*
beyond afterlife
there is this life
and not the opposite
whenever order is established
then will order be established.

*The first two stanzas are taken from the liturgy on Holy Saturday. These words are spoken by the Virgin Mary before the body of Christ.

FROM THE MOUNTAINS AND FORESTS OF MY COUNTRY

“The woods are on fire!”*
This thought always deprived me of birds,
irrelevant matter, since
we keep them away
whereas thereʼs only level dust
when you muse
no bird blood
drips
it sticks like memory
on a forgotten
face.

Moments live together
motion continues
they spring
as from a magic box**
again and again
and always the dotty messenger
changes them around
“Prevent forest fires! You can!”***

Things are smaller
than their shadow
smaller, until it kills them

Afterwards they are reborn in the light.

* A radio and television spot during the colonelsʼ dictatorship (1967-74), in their drive to protect the countryʼs forestry. The slogan began with “The woods are on fire!” and ended with “Prevent forest fires! You can!”.
** Alludes to the above slogan.
***As above.

TROPICAL

Making love with you resembles panting
in a red, humid landscape
in the background resting feathers
enclose space with feverish movements
at a standstill.
So this is love
these weak swaddled voices
liquefying the air
and enwrapping the flesh.
Is fear movement or suspension?
Within or without?
Grains of sand
the blood of birds
run down my thighs.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, Winter 1980, and in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.

PSARA*

The end of the world will be
a tender day
with human footsteps

Then perhaps
in the solitude of a boundless sky
a bird, maybe a sparrow,
might walk –
for I was told that it alone among birds
longs so much for love –
might cry mutely
without glory
and with gathered wings
the presence of death
which casts its shadow upon the sky
his passage no longer
an omen
but an autopsy.

*Inspired after a poem of the same title by Greeceʼs Poet Laureate, Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857), which laments the total destruction of the island of Psara by the Turks in 1824.

QUITE ANOTHER THING

As the curve of the neck lay to one side
and stopped the blood from flowing to the head
rhythm followed rhythm
without motion.

My hair, I thought
why doesnʼt he stroke my hair

Your hand
undressed with quick jerky movements
the slender body of a bird.
By right we should dress the dead, I said
and you:
thatʼs quite another thing.
Only a raw awareness confuses
the pleasure of taste with the beauty of sight.

Around you a net of feathers
held my mind away from you.
I want to see your hand caress me
now, I said
I want to see how it will do it
now, in the hunting season;
and you smiled at me:
thatʼs quite another thing.

*Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980.

*

The dreams we dream awake
when the sun burns without a filter
and we change places
according to whom whispers what
yesterday could reach the mindʼs skin
the dreams we dream
walking over the same crossings
the same shapes
the same hours
searching for something forgotten in the other pocket
and laugh awkwardly since
memory functions as we want it
when we want it
the dreams
in uniform, disguised
stupid
naked, uncombed
and the birds overflowing in and out*
of cages
never sleep
supine
the dreams we dream awake
reveal our closeness to insanity
until even the plants become
bodies with buried heads
while we sleep quietly
quietly, I said
and the door shuts behind
and the guard departs with quiet footsteps
carrying on a platter
our small childhood drawings.

*All the poems which make reference to birds, together with the two opening poems, were instigated by the colonelsʼ dictatorship (1967-74). This poem in particular alludes to the uprising of the students of the National Technical University, which was quelled by military intervention in the small hours of 17th November, 1973. The reader, however, would do well to confine these poems solely within the framework of the cause which inspired them.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980.

*

What sense
can history make to the birds
which saved their beauty?
Every man teaches his own history
learns his own
and of course
lives his own
and his own colours depict him
in childrenʼs eyes.
Fear soon succeeds wonder
and the smell of the earth
the smell of soil
and you canʼt see the motion
for it took place
within its own time
and its own meaning.

Wicked History!

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980.

SIMPLY

A mauve bird
with yellow teeth
red feathers
green feet
and a rose belly
is not
a mauve bird.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980, and in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.

PART II

*

For everything begins with the sound
of a small loose
spring
inside you
the sound of a small needle.

CRUCIFIXION
for Julia

Time rolled over me
as I perfected my footfall
something moved
and suddenly the lights started ringing.
At a still spot
where Time
has no past or future
events find me
crucified, and fatigue me.
(Lighting here must constantly change.)
Her skin was the colour of corn
she left for Paris without warning
I remember how calmly she packed her bag.
Sheltered beneath their quietude
events await us
they multiply against us
always devoted to themselves.
She told me the most important with an if
are told she said
Only you must pause at a word before silence
and I listened to her bound tightly to my seat
and heard events approach
murmuring their own significance.
Blow out the light, my friend
the candle was stolen from me on the darkest of nights.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980.

LANGUAGE STUDY

Close your eyes
Can you see the dark?
Not see in the dark
But
As we open our eyes
And see light
Not only in the light
I close my eyes
Or not open them
And see the darkness
Change
Or not change
Colours
I can see the dark
Means
Looking at it from the light
Opposite
Or within the darkness
Itʼs one and the same
Can I?

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977, and in KUDOS (UK). Issue Six, 1980

IN PAIRS

Darkness is not light
but it belongs to it
the way loneliness is not love
yet it meets it
with eyes wide open.

With eyes wide open
in the darkness
love lays ambush
to our loneliness

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977, and in KUDOS (UK). Issue Six, 1980.

TRANSPOSITION

If I want to enjoy large spaces
I look for a counter space
ahead they allow me only an instant at the time.
For everything begins with the sound
of a small loose spring
inside you
the sound of a small needle
which breaks the light
and throws you
into its hidden side.
So I behave like a kangaroo
and quit my post
with giant weightless
leaps.

From my belly unwinds the umbilical which contained me
this time Iʼll be born of myself.

So I thin my heart
by turning my back to my descendants
I laugh their laugh
hurling over my shoulder
one by one
the peels I remove
and leave
leave all the more helpless
for the opposite side of myself
until at last I stop breathless.

Within seconds the fishing line rewinds
toys myths and dreams.

* Scarecrows video

Toys myths and dreams
slow monotonous voice
slow breathing
hand gingerly holding the end of the thread
toys of silence and suddenly the sound
multivowelled
casts you to the waterʼs edge
and tears at your flesh punctured
with a thousand eyes within
otherwise there is always something you forget
at the seaʼs departure
forget, then,
close your eyes
return

SPATIAL FROM ONE ASPECT

Beautiful sky tonight
All the stars are there

The harmony of the world allows no smiles
the harmony of the world
the secret one
harmony of structure
defined
by the semen left behind
when for the first time we were hurled
with an inscrutable sparkle in the eyes
when for the first time
ahead
of that small cryʼs interlude
we let ourselves go and fall
and someone just managed to spread a blanket
and catch us
with our clothes on fire.
The harmony of the world allows no smiles
the harmony of the world
the perfect one.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5,
No. 3, 1980.

*

Beyond love
or fear
thereʼs the smell of skin
which betrays us
even on Sundays

Published in OASIS (London). No. 45, January 1991.

COPULATION

When we shall know
if we have the strength
All there is to know
in innocence
Approaching one thing after another
imponderously
Recognizing one thing within the other
free
Adding the following to the previous
and the previous to the following
patiently
When we shall know
if we are that lucky
What we canʼt know
other feelings, other ways
Scissoring continuity into beginnings
thread into short breathing
With the head where the feet should be
reverse stride
And fingers that canʼt count
countless touches
We shall penetrate the moonlight
alien even to ourselves
And forgetting each other
strong and hollow
We shall be immersed in yellow semen.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand). Vol. 5,
No. 3, 1980.

NUDE INSIDE A ROOM

Between the small
and the large words
a white line wavers
straight and motionless
it breathes.
Tiny threads of light
roll you gently inside me
the words hide your eyes from me
straight and motionless;
between the red and the white
you breathe.

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977.
KUDOS (UK). Issue Six, 1980.
TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.

JOB

Not one of us
ever speaks up
for his voice
each one of us
makes for
the caves of fantasy.
Shadows
bottles of spreading scent
multifolded
dust jackets.
Thus another piece of glass cuts our wounds
and we scrape them with another.
and on go herds of sheep, sons
girls of marriageable age
houses and servants.
Not one of us ever speaks up
for his life
each one of us makes for
the hideouts of fantasy.

Published in PRISM international (Canada). Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 1980.

DEED

“Only murder frees the soul”
perforce
it opens the soulʼs closed pores
the body cannot mourn
it laughs and cries at will
later
only murder exhumes it
blood cleanses the shame
washes its face
a yellow light
passes and soothes the soulʼs eyes
the soul discovers its face
and rejoices.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand).
Vol.5, No. 3, 1980.

NOT ALL THE TIME

I ignore poetry
– not all the time –
when the blood throbs on walls
when pottery falls to pieces
and life uncoils
like thread in a bobbin
I spit at my sorrow and completely
ignore poetry
when colours plague my soul
yellow blue and orange
I withhold my hate and calmly
ignore poetry
when your eyes tie my stomach
into knots

Whatʼs more
– not all the time –
I ignore poetry
when it becomes a quaint ambition

a rare find
on a love-bench in a future hall.

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977, and in KUDOS (UK), Issue Six, 1980.

FOR TWO VOICES AND DRUM

We walk in darkness
light falls solely on our faces
and then nowhere
from your eyes to mine

We walk in darkness
only now and then
I knock against your body
and am taken aback
then revert to being myself
someone whom I heave
with a rope which torments
and hear him beating on his inner walls
and falling time and again to his own depth

We walk in circles

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977, and in KUDOS (UK). Issue Six, 1980.

CONJUNCTION OF TERMS

Our eyes are but
for others to know us
and no one sees the blind

Our eyes are but
for others to know us
we see with different eyes
we divide the world with other axes
simpler
and usually
we achieve the same distance
groping with the hands.
And the sun hangs from the voice
and your face from death.
In the darkrooms of our eyes
unknown fluids
develop strange snapshots.
Things exist through us
diminishing the colour of our shadow.

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977.

LANDSCAPES

I

White bodies moving
among
stone masses,
childrenʼs faces
walk
in suspended time
forsaken
their eyes,
burnished metal plates,
cut the night into small shouts
as the body presses them.

II

Dust
broken teeth
chemical substances
life sowed in sand.

III

The human face is absent
from its own landscape
green and booming
the light puts out
the eyes
the body remains exposed
it sleeps in coiled terror
awakes aghast in the middle of the night
and dreams
a sudden moment
gives it a face in the eyes of children.
Fine threads tie it to the surrounding landscape.

IV

There are people who do nothing but wait
They are not poets
Never have been revolutionaries
Nor can they attract light to their side
Now and then a tuft of cloud
Passes over their heart
And covers it.

Published in PRISM international (Canada). Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 1980.
PRISM international, 25 Years in Retrospect. Vol. 23, No. 2, Winter 1984.

VARIATIONS

A

Love
dissolves into froth
its eyes blink in the night
moist
among pebbles

The girl combs the brightness in her hair
and sings.

B

Love
dissolves into froth
its eyes blink in the night
when molecules of water break;
it is madness which stimulates it
the madness that irons the brightness in her hair
and sings.

A

Freedom abides in the eyes
neither too high
nor too low
and its breath, so pure and gentle,
you cannot feel it in the still night;
it is only dimly lit
and smiles a little
when it rains.

B

Freedom abides in the eyes
neither too high
nor too low
and its breath, so pure and gentle
that in the still night
words remain motionless.
Freedom ties fear outside your door
like a tired horse;
it is only dimly lit
and smiles a little
when it rains.

Published in PRISM international (Canada). Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 1980.

CORROSION

Time
and slow dripping
and patience
and yet another life
and still another

Published in OASIS (London). No. 45, January 1991.

PREPARATION

To undo
the world inside me
in small
asymmetrical shapes
to unwind
my joints
in small pieces of thread
no need
of spirit
or conscience
or deepening endowment –
to untie
the threads
and lie down
small, very small
to sleep.

Published in PACIFIC QUARTERLY MOANA (Hamilton, New Zealand).
Vol. 5, No. 3, 1980.

*

A small piece
which runs
to join
with a small piece
in the confusion of an indescribable riddle.

A double bedsheet covers loneliness
thus perfecting its beauty

INCIDENT

This one stands
in expectation
always at the back
white
or lucent
the other moves
naked
or
clad
always in front
suddenly something happens
donʼt be scared, again nothing new
havenʼt you ever seen two moments drift apart?
People gather round
white squares pass by in abstraction
This one stands
in expectation
threads come out
of its huge mouth and fill the pavements

Published in CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Canada).
No. 27, Summer 1977.

from PUNCTUATION MARKS

MAINLY

mellowed by her blue
tufty whisper
poetry
mainly
amplifies the sound
of silence.

STAGE DIRECTION

The room shut. The curtains drawn or not. Light barely or
not yet. It will begin now or maybe.
You are speaking or descending. Fearing or striving. Continuing.
The other makes it or makes do. Persists or Fragmentizing.
It will begin now or maybe. Time passes or as though.
The room inflates. Thin crags form on its breast.
Things stand still with that slight rustling of forbearance.
Now and then sudden swordstrokes of fire.
It will begin now or maybe.

Published in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.

NOW

Strange now; I couldnʼt decide if it were Thursday or nighttime or a flute
patiently uprooting my body. As I go near to look
it breaks into pieces. Resounding. Strange now; with details
that are easily shaken and a little further down light in a pool
of laments. An entirely personal perspective mounts
my back dilating the fresh grey of her eyes.
Cut differently and not belonging. I listen willingly stretch my neck
pulsating regularly.

Published in IRON (UK). No. 42, February 1984.

THIS

Concentrated on what is happening as before it was something else
and this is apparent now.
Death-cooled I breathe
gently
transposing silence.
It is not something definite
but now,
a piece of material that awaits
darkening unnaturaly.
This occurs
by drawing aside the surroundings
and the laughter.

SUICIDE

She hesitated somewhat shaking old clothes imperilled a thousand times.
The hour low and white. She searched for it, it lay hidden
and all the more forgot herself outside the window. Eyes and ears
sealed up inside. The others: naked bodies, marmoreal.
Otherwise Not yet No Thatʼs why she let motion stand.
A madness warm as a tree observed her. Empty-eyed whispers
removed the rings from her fingers. Her hair now converses
like small palm trees. The sound cools folded in your breast.
Behind another and another. Sweetly and sweeter
than a dead man you fell asleep. A little girl, and not afraid
of the hours!

Hellenic Quarterly (Athens), No. 13, Summer 2002.

UNEXPECTED

Music fell off the evening; a little abstract and a little right
in the mouth. As you are about to wrap yourself in round pauses,
come certain opaque dronings and colours flow everywhere. Directly.
You open a moment to look and a haughty tongue of wind
lifts you onto its back. Scintillating beyond your normal mind
you rise behind the mountains. You are no one and someone
is taken by a sudden sense of sadness; a little abstract and a little right in the mouth.

Published in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982.
IRON (UK). No. 42, February 1984.
PRISM international (Canada). Vol. 24, No. 1, Fall 1985.

NOON

Around the moment which spreads its eyes and desires;
as if it were summer and you expected nothing but the moment;
a round moment that you lift and look; when you looked,
with an air that contains all your failings, when you looked;
the door purposely ajar to cause you grief; when you grieved;
not as a dead body which fears
nor as a living one which doesnʼt know.
The black tar receives two flies buzzing with love;
Laughing. Around the moment which desires to be now and reclines.

THAT WHICH PRECEDES

Every time you go to sleep, a red heart
emerges from your body, stands suspended in the room and breathes
on its own. It cares not even about itself, since a constant
surprise nurtures it. Nothing from nowhere. All this time
a slight smile distinguishes you as you balance on
two fine white threads.
What you are exists before the two of you. Forgetting.

Published in OASIS (London). No. 45, January 1991.

ACCIDENT

Like a small splash the body went; what was left
clung on to a detail and there it remained;
right behind the light of the next day.
Inside its mouth time unrolls in large loops.
Opening the cellule lids – nothing
but love, copper and insanity.
Now the sound comes clear through the foliage.

Hellenic Quarterly (Athens), No. 13, Summer 2002.

DREAM

On the wall a red dot, and it glows

The shape continued that the whole landscape
fell into a dark unyielding blue.
The pinks were now confined to the sides.
I here, fear there. My face
mounts illuminated. Slowly. Comparable
with nothing.

And this exists
submerged like a shipʼs sleep
smelling of eyes and drowned manʼs breath.
Neither pain
nor leaf
disturbs
the perfect order of silence.

COUNTERPOINT

I

When your clothing moistens with madness
Walking next to me
tell me, was it you or I
When close to the roots of your mind disaster calls
and that spiralling nothing
was it yours or mine?
Tell me
When right next to the red lies the white
is it death or recovery?

II

She didnʼt think her lips could talk
“Iʼm leaving now,” I said
and someone caressed my cheek
She was almost full of drops
I was around me and space continued to expand
She slowly drifted with the water which whispered in her eyes
I felt indescribably well
in a snug quiet armchair
I talked to an unswaddled feeling
She surrendered to her green dress
She had the notion she was recording
something new.

DEATH IN A HOSPITAL

Spotless white in the next untidy moment. Still clinging
to its limits. This. Without. It arranges awkwardly the bed covers and looks around at the remaining colours in variable quantities a
small fan comes and goes. At length it spreads within itself like a huge
full moon. The bright wheels of the mind eject
all shapes. Sudden windows.

Published in TEN WOMEN POETS OF GREECE. Wire Press – San Francisco, 1982,
and in PRISM international (Canada). Vol. 24, No. 1, Fall 1985.