Tasos Livaditis/translated by Manolis Aligizakis

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ΕΚΛΕΚΤΙΚΕΣ ΣΥΓΓΕΝΕΙΕΣ

 

Η φτωχή Ραχήλ, ωχρή, με ανίατα όνειρα, θεραπευόταν τώρα

ανάμεσα στα μαύρα δέντρα, όπως ένα τυφλός που με το φλάουτο

κάνει ν’ανθίζει το σκοτάδι ή όπως τα παιδικά παιγνίδια που μια

μέρα εξαφανίζονται σα να τα πήρε μαζί του το παιδί — καθώς

πέθαινε, περίλυπο, μέσα στον άντρα.

 

 

 

SELECTED RELATIONS

 

Poor Rachel, pale, with incurable dreams, now healing herself

among the black trees like the blind man who with his flute makes

the darkness bloom or like the childhood games that one day

suddenly vanish as though a child took them along — as it was dying

sorrowfully into adulthood.

 

 

TASOS LIVADITIS-SELECTED POEMS, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, Vancouver, 2014

www.libroslibertad.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

The Second Advent of Zeus-Review

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THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS// REVIEW

By João da Penha

 

 

POET, OF FACT.

 

 

Singing, everyone sings, but singers only about ten or twelve.

 

The boutade, they say, is by Frank Sinatra, whose remarkable vocal skills – it seems to me – have not been contested to this day.

To paraphrase the song of the great American singer, it can be said that there are not so many poets like this in the world – here and elsewhere, yesterday and today. I suspect that there will never be many poets, or at least many great poets. At least, I am convinced, not as many as the growing number of edited collections suggest, by marketing strategy arts, just under hyperbolic titles.

Many poetic exercise exercises it, or imagine exercising it. But to make great poetry is grace granted to a minority; to a caste of elect, therefore.

Schiller, by the way, has already warned that it is not enough to create good verses so that its author considers himself a poet. Now, to do verses, almost everyone, at some point in life, has already done. To make POETRY, however, is the road traveled by the minority referred to above. Only she, this chosen caste, has the map of the trail. Whoever holds it, who knows how to read it, interprets its coordinates, leads the others, that is, all of us, who have formed this majority, as creators, of the poetic territory, only by traveling, if sensitive to the Muses, as travelers. For the senseless, the tour of this territory will be nothing more than mere tourism.

Eric Ponty has the map of the trail. He is an authentic poet. Maturity is everything, the supreme bard in the “King Lear” told us. Poet, owner of his craft, poet who reached the full domain of poetic making.

His poetic virtuosity, Ponty has already shown and demonstrated in the magnificent “Retirement Boy Goes to the Circus in Brodowski” (Musa Publishing House, São Paulo, 2003.) In this book with its translation, our poet only makes it reaffirmed. For example when translating this stanza of Manolis’ poem Apollo, which reminds us of Paul Valéry’s Socratic prose in Eupalinos Lame et la Danse Dialogue De L arbre:

 

APOLLO

 

And I grew under Apollo’s sun

 

minutes of expressiveness

alone in darkness and

before I opened my eyes

I was accompanied

by the law of failure

born blind and

accused of heresy

a revolution in its making

even before I could utter

a groan or a begging cry

 

I gathered all my strength

to pick a date with death

hours before I appeared

in my mother’s arms

newborn festivity

error permitted

two legs just to walk

a heart as if

to feel emotion and

other human traces

of grandeur

 

 

 

APOLO

 

E eu cresci sob o sol de Apolo

 

Minutos de expressividade

Sozinho nas trevas e

Antes de abrir os meus olhos

Eu estava acompanhado

Pela lei da bobagem

 

Nasceu cega e

Acusada de heresia

Uma conflagração na sua fazendo

Mesmo antes que eu pudesse articular

Um suspiro ou um grito a mendigar

 

Eu ajuntei toda minha força

A seleção de uma data com a morte

Horas antes eu semelhava

Nos meus braços da minha mãe

Festa de um recém-nascido

Erro admitido

As duas pernas apenas a pé

Um coração como se

Sentisse à emoção e

Outros traços humanos

Da grandeza

 

This defense can be translated as the recognition that poets inhabit a province where logic does not bow down to the principles that govern the empirical world (nothing is more real than nothing, pre-Socratic Democritus preached). Poets know that. That’s why your particular logic. Particular, but not arbitrary. Particular because only they have the “kingdom key”.

Croce and Vossler, the memory comes to me now, they polemicized around the phrase: “The round table is square”. For the Italian thinker, the phrase would sum up to a total absence of meaning, illogical, while the German critic saw it as true, aesthetically and grammatically valid, caring little that logically impossible. Vossler, like so many others, before and after him, realized that the poet is the one who creates realities. Poets are creators of worlds. Therefore, in the poems translated by Eric Ponty, a musician, as well as a poet, he follows the Wagnerian advice that the poet does nothing but stimulate the understanding, leading the reader to make new combinations on the subject already known by means of sensory perception.

If, as Ponty tells us in one of the translated poems, “In My Mother’s Arms /newborn festivity / error permitted / two legs just to walk” it is equally true that we should listen to what poets have to say (few decipher the world better than poets, neighbors to philosophers). Eric Ponty, at the height of his creative force, has much to tell us through these translations as he did with Manolis-a Canadian Greek poet who’s credit is The Second Advent of Zeus a masterful piece.

 

“…for his sustained reflection, for a lyrical voice, and an invitation to see life not as a barren subject, but as a complex dynamic that has its own extraordinary design and imago of truth” as Ilya Tourtidis tells us, it is urgent that we listen to Manolis’ voice through the translation of the poet-translator Ponty, one of the most talented of his time.

 

 

 

João da Penha, a journalist and retired professor, collaborated in cultural publications such as Encounters with Brazilian Civilization, Cult and Tempo Brasileiro. Author, among other books, of What Is Existentialism (Brasiliense, 2011, 17. ed.) And Philosophical Periods (Ática 2000, 4. ed.), Translated for magazines and newspapers poems by Russians Sierguêi Iessiênin and Alieksandr Blok, and short stories By José María Argüedas, Júlio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez, published in The first short stories of ten masters of Latin American narrative (Paz e Terra, 1978). How to read Wittgenstein. São Paulo: Paulus, 2013.

 

 

POETRY by MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS/A REVIEW

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SENSUALITY in MANOLIS’ POETRY COMPARED TO CAVAFY AND YANNIS RITSOS

 

As history teaches us, the contrast between life and art has made it easy to think of Cavafy in the abstract, as an artist whose work exists free from tradition and attachment to a specific moment in time. This trend has been prompted by the two elements of his poetry for which he is most famous: his surprisingly contemporary theme (one of his themes, at least), and his attractive and direct style.

Certainly there have always been many readers who appreciate the so-called historical poems, situated in magical places of the Mediterranean during times that have been long dead and acrimonious with sociable irony and a certain tired stoicism. (“Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey, / without her you would not have put in the passage. / But now she has nothing to give you,” he writes in what may be the most famous evocation of ancient Greek culture: the journey is always more important than the fatefully disappointing destination.) This can be seen in the poem:

Thermopylae

Honor to all of those who in their lives

have settled on, and guard, a Thermopylae.

Never stirring from their obligations;

just and equitable in all of their affairs,

but full of pity, nonetheless, and of compassion;

generous whenever they’re rich, and again

when they’re poor, generous in small things,

and helping out, again, as much as they are able;

always speaking nothing but the truth,

yet without any hatred for those who lie.

And more honor still is due to them

when they foresee (and many do foresee)

that Ephialtes will make his appearance in the end,

and that the Medes will eventually break through

 

But it is probably fair to say that the popular reputation of Cavafy rests almost entirely on the remarkably preexisting way in which his other “sensual” poems, often not considered as this poet’s gift, deal with the ever-fascinating and pertinent themes of erotic desire, realization and loss.

The way, too, when memory preserves what desire so often cannot sustain. That desire and longing only makes it appear more contemporary, closer to our own times. Perhaps this is the case with Manolis’ poem:

Lamppost

 

After leaving our marks

on the sole lamppost

we parted

she to the west

I to the east

with a promise

to meet again

by this lamppost

and trace our marks

though we never thought of the Sirens

the Cyclops and the angry Poseidon

though we never thought of the pricey

ferryman

 

No one but Cavafy, who studied history not only eagerly but with a studious respect and meticulous attention to detail, would have recognized the dangers of abstracting people from their historical contexts; and nowhere is this abstraction more dangerous than in the case of Cavafy himself.

 

THE CITY

 

You said: “I’ll go to another land, to another sea;
I’ll find another city better than this one.
Every effort I make is ill-fated, doomed;
and my heart —like a dead thing—lies buried.
How long will my mind continue to wither like this?
Everywhere I turn my eyes, wherever they happen to fall
I see the black ruins of my life, here
where I’ve squandered, wasted and ruined so many years.”
New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will return to the same streets.
You will age in the same neighborhoods; and in these
same houses you will turn gray. You will always
arrive in the same city. Don’t even hope to escape it,
there is no ship for you, no road out of town.
As you have wasted your life here, in this small corner
you’ve wasted it in the whole world.

 

Surely his work is as good as great poetry can be and at the same time timeless in the way we like to think that great literature can be alchemizing details of the poet’s life, times and obsessions into something relevant to a large audience over the years and even centuries.

But the tendency to see Cavafy as one of us, as one in our own time, speaking to us with a voice that is transparent and admittedly ours about things whose meaning is self-evident, threatens to take away a specific detail one that, if we give it back to him, makes him look larger than life and more a poet of the future, as it was once described, rather than the time he lived in. This detail also pertains to the biography of Manolis who refers to mythical passages of his home-country and unfolds scenes of sensuality, abandonment and loss.

Cavafy’s style, to begin with, is far less prosaic, much richer although not musical, and rooted deeply in the nineteenth century in which he lived for more than half of its life. Some readers will be surprised to learn that many of Cavafy’s poems, even when he was almost forty, were cast as sonnets or other prepared forms of verse.

Manolis was born in Kolibari a small village west of Chania on the Greek island of Crete in 1947. At an early age his family took him first to Thessaloniki and then to Athens where he was educated, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the Panteion University of Athens.

The subject in some of Cavafy which tend to be overlooked by readers as difficult are the poems deliberately placed in the dark, geographical and temporal margins of the Greek past: poems which seem not to have much to do with today’s concerns and are often passed in favor of works with more contemporary appeal.

Perhaps this is the case with Manolis who draws from the same Greek sources as Cavafy does making historical references to Greece, the cradle where his soul was born, when he creates the Greek myths interacted in his contemporary poetry. Even far from his motherland Greece where he resides now he still retains in his poetic memory, images and themes he channels through verve in this book and others.

 

Can Manolis channel the beauty as easily as he describes in his verse? “An ancient time leader / as an anointed and pious / a musical instrument of candor flowing free / ready to speak with words that relieve pain and free the soul?” Yes its main tool is its firsthand experience of the power of Eros. His psychological makeup attracts and conveys authenticity and happiness based on his worship and being adored by sensual and provocative female figures exposing him in an ecstatic transcendence through his bodies of lust and his deep love and dedicated understanding. It is obvious that he finds his purpose in falling in love passionately for his beloved.

He does not hide that before he emerged he wanted to become “a festival / movement song of a bird / a vesper / a simple sigh / that will heal the lips of his beloved.” If he feels impotent in the face of inconceivable and unlimited Destiny, he declares that a woman’s embrace beckons him and he likes to give in to his passion: “dark and vague circle / forever indeterminable / and this, the command / and this, the Obedience / This, the orgasm / and this, the Eros / and this is you.” He feels being favored by Eros he diffuses his burning passion with light that fills his erotic verses. As a gallant defender of lust and sensuality and the true emotions of love, he delivers the joy and joy to the soul.

 

Both idealism and pragmatism, messianism, but also the tradition in the languor of the senses, the subjects of love dedicated to ephemeral satisfaction and erotic drunkenness make up the changes of its vast poetic content. Having the maturity of an accomplished poet and the ability to create evocative images in a personal way, the poet introduces us to what constitutes the most brilliant expression of his most intimate thoughts and beliefs in front of the world of his time and age.

The way, too, where memory preserves what desire so often can’t sustain. That desire and longing were for other men only makes it appear more contemporary, closer in our own times as we see in this opening poem of Golden Kiss, which poem may seem obscene and prosaic created by a minor poet, but when creating by a poet as Manolis locks up the erotic aura of a Moravia.

 

like a bird stilled by camera lens

her scandalous vulva visits his mind

from days of that August

on the scorched island

in low tone siesta

in muffled moaning

lest the mirror would crack from tension

 

 

In the 1880s and 1890s, Constantine Cavafy was a young man with modest literary ambitions, writing verses and contributing articles, critiques and essays, mostly in Greek but in English (A language in which he was perfectly at home as a result of spending a few of his adolescence years in England), on a number of idiosyncratic subjects, Alexandria and Athenian newspapers. This similarity in biographies binds Cavafy with Manolis who lives in Vancouver and writes poems in Greek and English referring to both countries.

 

Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia, Greece, on May 1, 1909, in a family of landowners. He did his early schooling and finished high school in Gythion, Monemvasia and after graduating in 1925, he moved to Athens where he began working on typing and copying legal documents. A year later, he returned to his home town where he spent his time writing and painting, another form of art that he devoted himself which along with his writing he kept for the rest of his life, perhaps the painting has given him elements of his sensual poems:

 

WOMEN

Our women are distant, their sheets smell of goodnight.

They put bread on the table as a token of themselves.

It’s then that we finally see we were at fault; we jump up saying,

‘Look, you’ve done too much, take it easy, I’ll light the lamp.

’She turns away with the striking of the match,

walking towards the kitchen, her face in shadow,

her back bent under the weight of so many dead –

those you both loved, those she loved, those

you alone loved . . . yes . . . and your death also

 

Listen: the bare boards creaking where she goes.

Listen: the dishes weeping in the dishrack.

Listen: the train taking soldiers to the front.

 

 

Sometimes the poems are invested with the fractured logic of the dream with images of dream events or they’re placed in a landscape of dreams that grows, as one reads more, more and more recognizable, less strange, always attractive. At the same time, their locations and quotations are redemptive of a completely recognizable Greece: the balconies, the geraniums, the statuary, women in their black attires and, in a lasting way, the sea. His touch is light, but its effect is profound. Much depends on the image that causes the narrative movement. Some poems are so small, so distilled, that the fragments of history given to us – the kids’ psychodramas – have an irresistible power. “The less I get the bigger it gets,” said Alberto Giacometti and the same powerful reticence is a feature in Ritsos’ shorter poems.

 

The content of Yannis Ritsos also deserves renewed attention – both the specific themes of the individual poems, which in fact keep the historical and the erotic in a single focus.

Eroticism is one of the appearances of man’s inner life. In this one deludes himself because one is seeking his fixed object of desire. But this object of desire responds to the internal desire. The choice of an object always depends on the individual’s personal tastes: even if it falls on the woman most would have selected, what comes into play is often an unspeakable aspect, not an objective characteristic of this woman unless she has touched the inner being of man she creates the force to choose her.

The notion of disorientation (similar, perhaps, to the effect of a mild virus), when heightened emotion puts us at odds with the world, when the aromas become sour, when a view of the garden becomes desolate, when household objects shed their purpose, is perfectly evoked in these ten lines. There is an immediate recognition of a precarious ontological state tied to a story until, a moment later, we realize that we can see that street, see that window, see through that door:

 

 

ALMOST

 

It was just luck: I open the door, the two women

side by side on the sofa

 

in his black handkerchief,

mother and daughter, perhaps,

 

staying immobile, unpronounceable, a mouthful of bread

on the table, a cat sleeping on the couch.

 

Looking away and the sun at the top of the waves, cicadas

the swallows attractions in blue. They look back.

 

I almost had it, I almost had it in one of them.

Then Mother got up and closed the door.

 

This poem by Yannis Ritsos refers us to another poem by Manolis but more sensual and right:

 

Nothing to hold onto

but ourselves in lust

and the cenotaph with

names engraved in marble

yet in this near futile void

a sudden speck of light

gleams on Suzanne’s breast

as a lightning flash like

when her eyes demanded

a deeper meaning to this: are we

to search for it during this dark night

with our two bodies as the only absolution?

 

The sensuality of the Mediterranean world may be in the Greek soul of the poets to a greater or lesser degree, as we have seen over the years and centuries, referring to the idea that the Greek gods though dead are alive in the souls of the Greeks: Eros and Dionysus are alive from the bygone days of yesteryears to today and even more so in the case of Manolis who lives in Vancouver but has not forgotten his Cretan roots, and he writes in both Greek and English and shows with his simple poem Golden Kiss the sensual and erotic connection between his poetry and that of Cavafy and Yannis Ritsos.

 

~Eric Ponty, poet, translator, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2016

Yannis Ritsos//translated by Manolis Aligizakis

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ΕΓΚΑΤΑΛΕΙΨΗ

 

Νυκτόβια έντομα νεκρά στο πάτωμα. Περνάς

στις δυο κρεβατοκάμαρες: το ίδιο. Οι άλλοι

ανηφορίσανε στ’ ασβεστοκάμινα, ανάψαν φωτιές,

εμείς τους περιμέναμε τρεις νύχτες. Έγειρε το φεγγάρι,

ύστερα η πολιτεία ερήμωσε, σβήσαν τα φώτα,

έμειναν τ’ άδεια καταστήματα κι οι ξαβαμμένοι κλόουν.

 

~Αθήνα, 7-1-79

 

 

ABANDONMENT

 

Dead night-flies on the floor. You go

to the two bedrooms: same thing. The others

went up the hill to the lime kilns, they started fires;

for three nights we waited for them. The moon leaned;

then the city was deserted, the lights went out,

the empty stores remained and the discolored clowns.

 

~Athens, 7-1-79

 

 

 

YANNIS RITSOS-SELECTED POEMS, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, BC, 2013

 

www.libroslibertad.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

 

Tasos Livaditis-translated by Manolis Aligizakis

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ΚΑΘΩΣ ΠΕΦΤΕΙ ΤΟ ΒΡΑΔΥ

 

 

Στο βάθος υπάρχει πάντα μια μικρή παρόρμηση, ανεξιχνίαστη,

από παλιούς αποχαιρετισμούς, από μακριές σιωπές σε κρύα

δωμάτια, ενώ με το πέσιμο της νύχτας ξεσπάει πάλι ο πα-

νικός —

το κακό είναι αθεράπευτο, κι η στέγη του σπιτιού μια τρομερή

απειλή

για κείνους που ξεχνάνε.

 

 

 

AS NIGHT FALLS

 

 

In depth there is always a secret impulse, indescribable,

from ancient farewells, from far away silences in

cold rooms but as the night falls again the panic

returns —

evil is incurable and the roof of the house a horrible

threat

for the ones who forget.

 

 

TASOS LIVADITIS—SELECTED POEMS, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, Vancouver, 2014

 

www.libroslibertad.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

 

The Second Advent of Zeus

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ΔΙΔΑΧΗ

 

Κι έβαλαν σε σκοτεινό κελί τη Θέμιδα

 

κι εγώ αντιμετώπισα τα ξέφρενα μάτια

της συγγένειάς μου κι είχα πολλά να πω

μα σιώπησα για ένα λεπτό χρόνο να δώσω

στην αφέλειά τους που αργά κυλούσε

σαν το κελαρυστό ριακάκι, αθώο παιδιού

χαμόγελο που πάνω του στήριξα ελπίδα

πως τη δικαιοσύνη ξανά θ’ ανακάλυπτα

 

για να γιατρέψω μ’ ανοιξιάτικα λουλούδια

τις φλέβες τ’ ανεπίληπτου Έρωτα

 

έγκλειστοι κι αλλόφρονες οι φίλοι μου

κι εγώ με κουρέλια τον τόπο γύριζα

μ’ απαλή φωνή και νέα σύμβολα

με νέους εχθρούς και νέα ανέκδοτα

ν’ αλλάξω τα πιστεύω τους πεθύμησα

νέοι Ιούδες που είχαν γεννηθεί με δόντια

σουβλερά ό ένας τον άλλο να ξεσχίσουν

για τους αγέρηδες καθαρούς κληρονόμους

των διδαγμάτων μου τίποτα να μη μείνει

 

LESSON

 

And they put Themis in dark dungeon

 

and I faced my kin’s delirious eyes

yet though I had much to say

I kept silent, momentarily, time

to give to their simplemindedness

bubbling along with the creek’s murmur

innocent smile of child upon which

I entrusted my hope to rediscover justice

 

with spring flowers to rejuvenate

the veins of imppecable Eros

 

inpriswoned were my distraught friends

dressed in rags I walked over my lands

soft-spoken and with new symbols

with new follies and  new anecdotes

I wished to revert their beliefs

new Judases born with sharpened teeth

ready to devour each other nothing to leave

for the winds rightful inheritors of my teachings

 

THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, BC, 2016

www.ekstasiseditions.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

 

Karyotakis-Polydouri

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Kostas Karyotakis’

ΘΕΛΩ ΝΑ ΦΥΓΩ ΠΙA

Θέλω νὰ φύγω πιὰ ἀπὸ δῶ, θέλω νὰ φύγω πέρα,
σὲ κάποιο τόπο ἀγνώριστο καὶ νέο,
θέλω νὰ γίνω μία χρυσὴ σκόνη μὲς στὸν αἰθέρα,
ἁπλὸ στοιχεῖο, ἐλεύθερο, γενναῖο.

Σὰν ὄνειρο νὰ φαίνονται ἁπαλὸ καὶ νὰ μιλοῦνε
ἕως τὴν ψυχὴ τὰ πράγματα τοῦ κόσμου,
ὡραῖα νά ῾ναι τὰ πρόσωπα καὶ νὰ χαμογελοῦνε,
ὡραῖος ἀκόμη ὁ ἴδιος ὁ ἑαυτός μου.

Σκοτάδι τόσο ἐκεῖ μπορεῖ νὰ μὴν ὑπάρχει, θεέ μου,
στὴ νύχτα, στὴν ἀπόγνωση τῶν τόπων,
στὸ φοβερὸ στερέωμα, στὴν ὠρυγὴ τοῦ ἀνέμου,
στὰ βλέμματα, στὰ λόγια τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

Νὰ μὴν ὑπάρχει τίποτε, τίποτε πιά, μὰ λίγη
χαρὰ καὶ ἱκανοποίησις νὰ μένει,
κι ὅλοι νὰ λένε τάχα πὼς ἔχουν γιὰ πάντα φύγει,
ὅλοι πὼς εἶναι τάχα πεθαμένοι.

I WANT TO LEAVE

I want to leave this place, to go far away

I want to become golden dust in the air

simple element, free, brave

to an unfamiliar new land I’ll go

where things of the world will appear

like dreams and they’ll talk to the soul

where the nice faces of people will smile

and where I too shall be beautiful

where, my god, darkness wouldn’t exist

in the night, nor in the despair of the place

upon the horrible skyline or in the wind’s wailing

nor in the glances or words of people

where there won’t remain anything

but a little joy and satisfaction

where all will say that they have left forever

that perhaps they are all already dead.

www.libroslibertad.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

Tasos Livaditis

 Tasos Livaditis_Vanilla

ΚΑΚΟΙ ΜΑΘΗΤΕΣ

 

Και τα τζάμια με τις πεθαμένες μύγες το φθινόπωρο, σαν τις

μεγάλες σελίδες των βιβλίων, τότε που δεν ξέραμε ακόμα να

διαβάζουμε.

Κύριε, εξήγησέ μας.

 

 

 BAD STUDENTS

 

And the windows with the dead flies in the autumn like the long

pages of books when we didn’t yet know how to read

Lord, explain to us.

 

www.manolisaligizakis.com

www.libroslibertad.com

 

Nostos and Algos (Nostalgia)

nostos and algos cover

ΖΕΥΓΑΡΙ ΓΕΡΟΝΤΩΝ

 

Στενόμακρο τραπεζάκι που

με δυσκολία στέκεται ακίνητο

τραπεζομάντηλο σαν

να το πέταξαν στο βάθος ποταμού

ξεθωριασμένο σαν τα μάτια της

να κοιτούν την αγωνία της θάλασσας

που οδηγεί στην ξενιτειά που ο γιός της ζει

 

ίσκιος κληματαριάς βαθύπνοος

και σκληρός σαν αμαρτία

αμείλιχτος σαν σκέψη που σφυρηλατεί

τη θύμησή της για να ξαναγεννήσει φώς

 

κι εκείνος φέρνει τα δυο πιάτα

το κρασί που τα τρεμάμενά του χέρια βάζουν

στα ποτήρια, πιατάκι ελιές, ένα κομμάτι φέτα

 

κι ο στεναγμός απλά μασκαρεμένος με το χαμογέλιο

κι απο του τζίτζικα την επιμονή να διακόπτει

της μοναξιάς τους το μονόλογο

 

όταν επιτέλους κάθεται δίπλα της

πάνωθέ τους η κληματαριά γελά

σαν τα ροζιασμένα δάχτυλά του

αγγίζουν τις ρυτίδες του χεριού της κι ο ήλιος

κάπου ψηλώτερα ξεκαρδίζεται στα γέλια

που της λέει… ξέχασες να κόψεις τη σαλάτα

 

 

OLD COUPLE

 

 

Long and narrow rusted table

hardly stands motionless

bleached out tablecloth as though

thrown in debts of river for a long time

cloth faded like her eyes gazing the sea’s

agony that reaches the foreign land

where her son has vanished

shade of grapevine thick like a sin

and harsh like a thought pounding

her memory that light may be reborn

 

and he brings two plates

trembling hands pour wine in two glasses

small plate with olives, piece of feta

 

and the sigh expertly camouflaged by a smile

the lone cicada that insists to disturb

monologue of their loneliness

 

finally he sits next to her when

above them the grapevine laughs

as his calloused fingers touch

her wrinkled hand and the sun

somewhere higher than everybody

roars with laughter when the old man says

to her…you forgot to make the salad

 

Tasos Livaditis-Poems

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ΕΚ ΠΡΩΤΗΣ όψεως, βέβαια, όλοι φαίνονται απροσδόκητα

ενώ αυτό που φοβόμαστε έχει γίνει από καιρό, κι ήτανε μέσα μας,

κι εμείς το πηγαίναμε στην επικίνδυνη ώρα και συχνά σταματού-

σες στη μέση της σκάλας, γιατί ποιός ξέρει πού είναι το άλλο

σκαλοπάτι, ιδιαίτερα το βράδυ καθώς διάβαινες τις άδειες κάμα-

ρες, σου `πεφτε πάντα κάτι απ’ τα χέρια, σαν να `θελε να ξαναγυ-

ρίσει, και τότε, όπως γονάτιζες να το βρεις, συναντούσες τον

άλλον

αφού κάθε κίνηση μας προδίνει, κι ένα άλλο ποτήρι σηκώνεις

απ’ αυτό που πήγαινες, προτίμησα, λοιπόν, να σωπάσω, μα όταν

μες στο σκοτάδι χτύπησαν μεσάνυχτα, όλο το σπίτι ράγισε άξαφνα,

και τότε, στο βάθος του διαδρόμου, το είδαμε που πέρασε εντελώς

καθαρά.

 

 

AT FIRST glance of course everything seem to be unexpected

while what we’ve feared had already taken place and was inside us

and we carried it to the dangerous hour and often you would stop

in the middle of the stairs because, who knows where was the next

step; especially in the night as you walked through the empty rooms

something always fell off your hands as if wanting to return and

then as you’d kneel to find it you would meet the other man

since every gesture gives us up and you carry a different

glass from the one you wanted, I therefore chose to keep silent;

but when in darkness midnight struck suddenly the whole

house shook and then at the end of the hallway we saw him

as he quite clearly walked by us.

 

 

~Tasos Livaditis-Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2014

www.libroslibertad.ca

www.manolisaligizakis.com