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    Nikos Tselepides New Member

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    [continued from Memories I]

    (Note: MEMORIES II is the 2nd part of one large poem, and MEMORIES I is posted as another thread elsewhere here & is part of the same large poem. I could not post all of it as the forum said it was too long, and I had to cut it in two pieces, but the poem is really one, made up of 20 sub-poems, and should be read in its entirely. Here you have parts 11-20)



    Eleventh poem,
    Or rather
    11 at night

    I kneel
    In this chapel
    And pray

    As my candle burns
    In a dark corner
    By the altar

    I do not know
    What I pray for
    It is the ritual
    That has grabbed me
    The ceremony, the incense
    Old images and stories

    Still, one comes here
    For deliverance
    And belief is a dormant mine

    Which goes off now
    And then, killing doubt
    and giving breathing space

    I know what I pray for
    It is the same you
    Pray for, and everyone


    Twelve noon is reflection time
    in the Mediterranean sunlight.

    As I drink coffee in the sun
    I think of the main question

    Which has plagued men and women
    For centuries: “Do you love me?”

    Represents a major human problem.
    Note that whatever the answer is

    Does not really matter. It is getting
    An answer at all that is the problem.


    Once only, four Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft
    Of the Royal Air Force making a fine inverted loop
    Against the blue sky, the sun glinting on the canopies.

    Now the Hunter was a thoroughbred and a beauty to behold
    My sin was I forgot the war, the dismembered bodies, the fatherless children
    The empty ammo shells spread on the beaches and fields everywhere.


    The pine trees and the cypress crowd the air with two shades
    Of green. Wild laurel trees and rhododendron also. Now
    The almond trees are blooming, laden with shy white flowers.
    The first yellow wild flowers have pushed, but need another month
    To flower. The old Byzantine water spring gushes from its marble
    Pipe outlet, the water crystal-clear and cold. Memories of childhood
    Mingle with birdsong. Faces of uncles and aunts and cousins
    When we used to come here and collect chamomele to dry in the sun.
    I lie quiet and watch. Bees and insects at work. The ground is full
    Of silent, ever-moving life. Mud, brick and marble and stone make up
    The old Byzantine walls everywhere. The olive trees silver as the wind
    Moves their leaves. If I tried to paint this, I would need colors that change
    Every minute, and they do not exist, and can never be invented. The monastery
    Dates back to the 10th century. The cells have been empty for over a hundred
    Years. The black soot on the ceiling in the cooking room still announces fires
    Of long ago. The slit gun ports on the walls speak of wars against the barbarians.
    St. Anthony is next to the Virgin Mary—the two churches share a wall
    And both use the marble floor of an ancient temple of Venus, Goddess of Love
    pointing to fact that Love, since antiquity, has been a base for many things.
    Basil and nutmeg, mint and eucalyptus, both sides of the winding path.
    The eucalyptus bark comes off in flakes, we collect it and use it an insect
    Repellant at home. Laurel leaves keep away roaches. Resin goes into wine
    And is used to caulk the barrels. The tall and lean snake plants lean in wind.
    We make skewers from laurel branches for meat barbecues. The grass, where
    Unstepped , untreaded, and untrampled, stands proud and erect everywhere.
    The sun unites all trees and plants and animals and us into a lifelong dance.


    “Saw the sun fulvid
    the sun for three days”---thus wrote
    Pound, Ezra

    So did I, in the middle of the Aegean
    And in other places also—one
    Of the most vivid was somewhere
    I can not write or talk about

    You were there with me, part of you
    Was the sun fulvid, the sun for three days

    Embraced by it and you for three days--
    it was a special rhetoric. The bow of the ship

    Is now carving its way against the waves
    The wind is from the southeast and the compass
    Says I’m off-course by 2 degrees, and to get
    Back to your arms I need to correct to port
    And port is only 40 miles away, and through green,
    Blue, turquoise, deep blue, light green water, and the port
    Is old and mouldy, the chains rusty on the pier, the men
    Unshaven and dirty and itching, the church locked, the bar
    Open with a door flapping on its hinges, and no-one inside.

    The silence of an autumn evening.

    A waning moon, stars in a light haze

    The words are born in pain, the mind
    Searches the distant crevices of remembered moments
    The colors reveal themselves one by one, the faces
    Of friends long gone, of landscapes never revisited

    Here by the old cafe, on a bench made of marble:
    Oenoe, ancient statuettes, a lizard drinking the sun
    On a rock, Pan laying down his flute for the day,
    Poppies in bloom by the Acropolis, the lions
    On Delos the Sacred Island, lovers at night
    By the Pnyx, lovers by day at the Agora, cups
    Made of gold that once held wine, diadems
    Which graced the necks of Athenian ladies
    Or mythical nymphs, the satyr brandishing his erection
    Among the tender maidens of Tanagra, the foreign
    Visitors who never understood any part of this place,
    The barbarians who were repulsed to their shores.
    The silence of daytime under a huge sun.

    Souls busy with daily chores. Olives. Wine.
    Grapes. Trading and calling out prices. The ship.


    She raised her arms and untied her hair.
    It still smelled of the honey she had used
    To condition it. She loosened her drape and
    Kicked off her sandals. She spoke in a whisper
    In a Greek dialect which has disappeared.
    Then she sang an old poem as she opened herself
    And took me deep inside her own temple of worship.
    The love-making lasted thousands of years.


    It is now clear
    One is one
    And in harmony
    With the roots
    History is very much
    Alive, I
    Cannot escape it

    Body and mind
    Revert to the advantage
    Of being Greek

    What many wish they had
    I have by birthright, it
    Guides and creates all

    An ancient owl howls
    From the trees on the hill

    Its triple cry , shrill and clear,
    Echoes in the night air

    The usual every day things
    Are still sung by the poets

    Their voices bring the vocables
    To everyone--even the owl sings them

    that bird likes to repeat their words
    By night, so no one forgets
    Before she flies away for the day

    And I
    Would wear the face
    Of an old poet

    Before I die

    Remember me
    When you need me

    Do not
    Make me part
    of any tradition

    I really belong to the sea
    And the wind
    And this precious earth


    “I have an aching back
    and my legs are stiff
    carrying your poems and
    lyrical words and verses
    up the steep hill”

    Do you remember the following efforts
    in the sun?

    Read on.

    The letter poem was this:


    Dear Bob: Sam would have liked this rue--
    rue de l’ Echaude, I believe. He used to collect
    his mail at the small shop of an old man
    who sold ancient dolls when he lived down the road
    from Jean-Paul Sartre. Was it 1976 ? That was the year
    all girls rolled up their jeans on the outside and stood
    in corners waiting for lovers who never came.
    Rolla had stayed at the hotel of Greg Corso, Quartier
    Latin, behind the school of Medicine, and as I walk
    past it now I remember 1968 and the poetry readings
    we used to have in Kolonaki, and how everyone
    packed up and left when the dictators got settled in.
    The “Empire Celeste” still has the best shrimp in Paris
    and the old drugstore Publicis is closed. The Greek
    chauffer of the rich French old lady, who played the horses
    every weekend, inherited a fortune when she died
    but still wears the same old shoes he wore 10 years ago.
    Women are still lonely here, and men even lonelier
    but there is nothing like love-making in Paris
    when it finally happens. And you can still survive
    on little money here. You know Bob, you won’t find
    tumbleweed here, neither young conquerors, nor next-door
    small-town girls who love herbs and flowers and acorns.
    You will find a painterly light on buildings, great hunger
    at noon, despair in the afternoon, resignation at night.
    How many times did I not know where I was headed?
    Three times today, more on most days. Turned in circles,
    completely lost in a town I know like my pocket. What is it
    that makes this place so tough and beautiful? I have a date
    tonight with a girl who is a goddess and must rush. I know
    that even if she gives herself completely, it won’t matter
    here. This town has no time dimensions. Is it that Love
    is considered too natural here? Is it the endless search
    throughout the day? Is it the prize one finds sometimes
    that says Yes, I am Yours, Your Place or Mine? Or is it
    walking the bridge over the Seine as the light falls and
    dreaming of thousands of things that could happen here
    but don’t? Say hello to all lost souls in San Francisco
    whatever side of the blue-gray bay they live on. Au revoir.

    And before that came the poem about the island bar
    at 1 .am. on the island of Paros in Greece:


    After some time
    we moved

    inside. The only
    handsome man

    stood at the door,
    aloof. One girl

    looked. Wolf sat
    at another table.

    No one danced
    this time and

    the four Greek
    women looked

    lost. Everybody
    paid at 3 a.m.


    March 16th, 2005
    Nikos Tselepides, Athens, Greece , this re-write: Feb. 7th. 2007.
    (This set of poems is still under revision and some parts may change, publication pending).

    "But know in your human marrow you who read, that all you tread is earthquake rot and matter mental
    Trembling, freedom is a void, Peace war religion revolution
    Will not help"--Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

    Nikos Tselepides New Member

    Member Since:
    Dec 6, 2006
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    Moving this up, as some may have missed it.

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