Neo-Hellene Poets, an Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018

Poem by Tasos Livaditis

ΤΟ ΑΔΕΙΟ ΠΑΝΩΦΟΡΙ

      Νύχτωνε, και στο παλιό σπίτι κατοικούσαν μόνο οι σκιές, “θεία

Ευδοκία, της είπα, τώρα πρέπει να σοβαρευτείς, είσαι πεθαμένη”,

μα εκείνη είχε το ίδιο αμήχανο χαμόγελο, όπως τότε, όταν έκρυβε

κάτι που δεν έπρεπε ακόμα να το μάθω,

      ο άγνωστος μας διηγόταν σημεία και τέρατα, εγκλήματα εδώ

και αιώνες, είπε και για μια μύγα, στο παιδικό τζάμι, που της

έκαψε τα φτερά, “από τότε στέκει εκεί και δε μ’ αφήνει” κι έδειχνε

πέρα, μακριά, το δρόμο που δεν μπόρεσε να πάρει,

      η ξενοδόχα, έλεγαν, έκλεβε κρυφά τα πτώματα και τα έθαβε

στα ντουλάπια, έτσι το ξενοδοχείο είχε πολλή κίνηση, γιατί έβρισκες

πάντα κάποιον που να μη σε διώχνει — κι ούτε κατάλαβα όταν

μου βύθισαν το μαχαίρι, σαν να μην ήμουνα εδώ ποτέ μου, κι

απλώς είχαν κρεμάσει ένα πανωφόρι στο κενό.

      Και κάθε τόσο ένα πουλί έπεφτε από ψηλά νεκρό, καθώς χτυπού-

σε πάνω στην απαγορευμένη πόρτα.

 THE EMPTY COAT

      Night fell and in the old house only the shadows remained “aunt

Eudokia” I said to her “get serious, you are dead now” but she retained

the same awkward smile, like back then when she hid something that

I wasn’t allowed to know as yet

     the foreigner narrated stories of signs and wonders, ancient old

murders; he also talked about a fly on the child’s glass and that he burnt

its wings “since then it stands there as if to punish me” and he pointed

far away to the road he never took

     the hotel woman, some said, robbed the cadavers; she then buried

them in the closets that the hotel was always busy because you always

found someone who wouldn’t ask you to leave — and I never felt it

when they pushed the knife in my body as though I’ve never existed

and they had simply hanged an empty coat over the void.

     And often enough from above a bird would fall dead as it bumped

onto the forbidden door.

Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

It’s the winter of 1955, and their mother has finally received news about the whereabouts of her husband from a good friend who has somehow learned that their father is living in Salonica and wants them to join him. The boys are eight and ten now, old enough to get excited at the idea of travelling by ship from Souda, the harbor in Chania, all the way up to Salonika in the north of Hellas, a trip that will take two whole days.
Over the next few February days their mother hurries to do all the necessary preparations and one good Wednesday morning they take the bus from the village to Souda, where a shipcalled Kadio is waiting to take them to Salonica. They boarded and sailed northward to Piraeus, the port of Athens, where the Kadio docks in the evening and stays until midnight, loading and unloading passengers and goods, before sailing again.
All day they have sat on deck as near the ship’s exhaust funnel as they can, to enjoy the heat it exudes on that cold February day. Another passenger jokingly asks Eteocles to sing a Cretan mandinada, a four-liner customary in Crete, which the boy doesn’t shy away from but gives it his best melodic rendition. Even during the long dark hours when the ship spent is docked in Piraeus, they are still warm since the engines keep on humming.
Early the next morning, the Kadio reaches the harbor of Volos, where it unloads some cargo, takes on new cargo and then sails straight for Salonica, which it reaches late in the afternoon. The boys stand at the deck railing with their mom looked at the workers on the busy dock going about their various task. Then their mother’s glance falls on a man Eteocles and Nicolas barely recognize, and she calls out in joy. The man is waving at them. Their father is there waiting for them. The father they haven’t seen in almost two years is there.
He hugs them tightly as soon as they disembark and step onto the strange Macedonian soil. His eyes are full of tears, their mothers’ too, and the boys can hardly contain their joy at reuniting with their father and becoming a whole family again. Minutes go by that feel like eons. Then, after the hugs and exclamations of welcome and relief, their dad invites them to walk to his house, and grabbing the bundle of clothes their mother has put together and their one old suitcase, he guides them to toward Sikies, a suburb on the northern side of the city.
Eteocles and Nicolas each carry a small bag with their own few clothes as the happy family slowly trudges uphill way to their new home, which turns out to be an old barn the owners used as a storage facility before they rented it to their father for living space. The walk has taken half an hour on a steep uphill route and the boys are very tired now. As they sit by the table in the middle of the room, they take in their new house, just one room about four meters by four, on one side a small kitchen with a hearth where mom will cook their food and warm the place by burning the wood which is stored in a pile outside the eastern wall, in the center of the room a table and four chairs,  and on the west side of the room, a bed for their parents and one bed for the two boys, who will sleep together, one with his head to the south and the other to the north.
After they eat a small snack their dad has prepared in advance for them, they go to bed at once, and sleep overtakes their exhausted eyelids until the next morning. As they slip into unconsciousness on their first night under the metal roof of the building, they listen to the strange sounds the rain makes as it falls on the sheet metal and soothe them with dancing songs and arias and melodic hymns for the little time they are kept awake by the noise of the raindrops. Their eyelids close to open only in the morning when they face the Salonica sun for the first time, rising from the top of a huge castle in the east, a castle Eteocles vows to explore as soon as he can.  
           But now the boys have their immediate surroundings to explore. On one side of the rented house is a huge rock six or seven meters high and on the other, the southern side, is a small garden with a fig tree, leafless on this cold winter morning but with a promise to bloom soon, in March, and with luck have ripe sweet fruit by July and August. It’s a windy morning. The overnight rain has stopped but a keen wind blows from the northeast, from behind that big castle Eteocles longs to explore. Clouds race across the sky, sometimes hiding the sun sometimes freeing it to shine on the throngs of people in this city, the second biggest in Hellas, the “city of the poor” as it’s called, the city which is the capital of northern Hellas.

Daily Dose of Bhagavad Gita

Be Inspired..!!

Chapter 3: Karma-yoga

TEXT 8

niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyayo hy akarmanah
sarira-yatrapi ca te
na prasiddhyed akarmanah

Chapter 3 Verse 8

TRANSLATION

Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.

PURPORT

There are many pseudo-meditators who misrepresent themselves as belonging to high parentage, and great professional men who falsely pose that they have sacrificed everything for the sake of advancement in spiritual life. Lord Krsna did not want Arjuna to become a pretender, but that he perform his prescribed duties as set forth forksatriyas. Arjuna was a householder and a military general, and therefore it was better for him to remain as such and perform his religious duties as prescribed for the householderksatriya. Such activities gradually cleanse the heart of a mundane man and free him from material contamination. So-called renunciation for…

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