IMAGES OF ABSENCE-ΕΙΚΟΝΕΣ ΑΠΟΥΣΙΑΣ

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ΠΑΡΑΛΛΑΓΗ

Φύσηξε ο αγέρας
τα πεσμένα φύλλα
γέμισε θάνατο το πεζοδρόμιο
καθώς ο νους μου έτρεξε
στο χαμογέλιο σου
και ξάφνου είδα ένα χορό
μπροστά στα μάτια μου
παράξενο των φύλλων
ν’ αρχινά που λες ζωντάνεψαν
μέσα στη νέκρα τους
και σιγοτραγουδούσαν

τίποτα δεν πεθαίνει
ρυθμό μόνο αλλάζει
η ζωή και φόρεμα

CAMOUFLAGE

Wind blew
the fallen leaves
death took over
the sidewalk
and my mind
ran to your smile and
suddenly I saw a strange
dance before my eyes
the leaves had commenced
in the slumber
of their death
as if alive they sang

nothing dies
life only changes
its dress and rhythm

~IMAGES OF ABSENCE-ΕΙΚΟΝΕΣ ΑΠΟΥΣΙΑΣ, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, BC, 2015

CLOE and ALEXANDRA-POETRY TRANSLATED BY MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS

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Η τέλεια μέρα

Δεν ήταν η παραλία
Θεσσαλονίκη ξημερώματα
τόσο τέλεια ξεπλυμένη
στις αποχρώσεις της βροχής,
ούτε η θάλασσα
βραχνή, ορμητική
άγριο λιοντάρι με γαλάζιες φλόγες,
δεν ήταν οι φέτες τα παγκάκια
με την παχύρρευστη μοναξιά
του άδειου τους κενού,
ήταν πως χθες βράδυ ονειρεύτηκα
ότι έστω για μια φορά
φορά πρώτη, φορά θάνατος
ήρθες μέσα μου
πίσω από την ψυχή,
κάτω από τα στόματα του κορμιού,
ήρθες και έμεινες.

Perfect Day

It wasn’t the seashore
of Salonica during the daybreak
so cleanly washed by
the hues of the rain
nor the sea
hoarse, violent,
wild lion with blue flames,
it wasn’t the benches in rows
with the fatty loneliness
of their emptiness,
it was that last night I dreamed
perhaps for once
for the first time, first time death
you entered my body
behind my soul
under the mouths of the body
you entered me and stayed.

Γλυκό απόγευμα

Το σχήμα της πλατείας,
το σχήμα των σπιτιών που την καθόριζαν,
με φωτεινές καμάρες, υπαίθρια εστιατόρια
και καφετέριες.
Σ’ αυτόν τον χώρο συνωστίζονταν η νεολαία,
κατέκλυζε τα πεζοδρόμια,
δεν άφηνε τραπέζι για τραπέζι.
Η ματαιότητα κι τρυφηλή ζωή της πόλης
πνίγονταν, διαχέονταν
μες στο γλυκό απόγευμα.
Κι όμως ήταν αναπόφευκτο:
σ’ αυτόν τον χώρο που έπηζε η ομορφιά
μπήκα με δέος.

Sweet Afternoon

The shape of the square
the shape of the houses which delineate it,
with lit arcades, open air restaurants
and cafes.
Here the young people gather
flood the sidewalks
leave no empty table.
The futility and sensual life of the city
drowned together, dissolved
into the sweet afternoon.
And yet it was inescapable.
Here, where beauty thickened
I entered in awe.

~ “Cloe and Alexandra”, Translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2013

TASOS LIVADITIS-POEMS/ΤΑΣΟΥ ΛΕΙΒΑΔΙΤΗ-ΠΟΙΗΜΑΤΑ

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ΤΑ ΚΑΡΦΙΑ

Σκέφτομαι, κάποτε, σε μια ιδιαίτερη ώρα, να διηγηθώ όλες τις
λεπτομέρειες, πώς, λόγου χάρη, άρχισε αυτή η αθεράπευτη αρρώ-
στια στον απέναντι τοίχο ή για εκείνη τη γυναίκα στο πάρκο, που
ήταν ολόκληρη καρφωμένη πάνω στό παγκάκι, και λέω καρφωμένη
χωρίς ίχνος υπερβολής, τα καρφιά εξείχαν σαν μικρά κουμπιά πάνω
απ’ τα ρούχα της, ενώ η τσάντα με την ταυτότητά της κυλούσε
μες στο ρυάκι, για να μην ξέρουμε τίποτα γι αυτήν, κι όπως ανέ-
βηκα στη σοφίτα που μου `χαν παραχωρήσει για τη νύχτα, είδα
πως είχαν μετακομίσει, και δεν έμενε παρά λίγο άχυρο, επειδή
είχαν πάντα το φόβο του ξεπεσμού, κι ήταν στιγμές που όλοι περί-
μεναν το αναπόφευκτο, κι όταν νύχτωνε ήρεμα, ησύχαζαν, γιατί
εκείνοι δεν πηγαινοέρχονταν στο διάδρομο, να δούν ακριβώς πίσω
απ’ την πόρτα του βάθους.
Γι’ αυτό κι εγώ κρατιέμαι παράμερα, με την ελπίδα να ξαναβρώ
εκείνη τη χαμένη ψυχή.

THE NAILS

Sometimes, on a special hour, I think of narrating all the details:
how for example this incurable disease started on the opposite wall
or about that woman in the park whose body was nailed on the bench
and I say this without exaggeration; the nails protruded from her cloths
like small buttons while her purse with her identity card floated down
the creek that we couldn’t find out anything about her and as I
went up to the loft they allotted to me for the night I discovered they
had moved and only hay was left behind because they always had
the fear of comedown and there were moments when everyone
anticipated the inescapable and when the night fell serenely they
quietened down because the others weren’t going back and forth
in the hallway to look behind the far end door.
For this I’ve stayed on the sidelines hoping to rediscover that
lost soul.

~Τάσου Λειβαδίτη-Εκλεγμένα Ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis
http://www.libroslibertad.ca
http://www.authormanolis.wordpress.com

THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS/ΔΕΥΤΕΡΑ ΠΑΡΟΥΣΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΑ

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THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS

And Zeus had promised my return

to again face the loathly
teeth of the abyss
at the ecliptic hour
of a hot July day as the cicadas’
cantos awaken the high noon
lullabies and
olive tree leaves sieving
sunlight and the loaf
allotted to me
was kneed without yeast
swirls of anger and pictures of people
familiar and bearded old beasts of

my kin
softly sprang up
as if
from the earth’s bottom
to release me
from the commitment
of eternal return

caique sails plastered on the horizon
ambience and nostalgia when
I felt my primeval
fear repeated
nothing but a warning of
my true passing through
the narrow Symplegades

Ι
Κι ο Δίας είχε υποσχεθεί την επιστροφή μου
για να ξαναντικρύσω
τα βρώμικα δόντια της αβύσου
κατά τη διάρκεια ελλειπτικής ώρας
ολόθερμης Ιουλίου μέρας
που τα τζιτζίκια θα ξυπνούν το μεσημέρι
με νανουρίσματα
και φύλλα της ελιάς
τον ήλιο θα κρησάρουν
και το ψωμί
στη μοιρασιά που μού `πεσε
χωρίς προζύμι ζυμωμένο
στρόβιλος θυμού τα πανάρχαια θηρία
κι οι εικόνες ανθρώπων γενειοφόρων

η συγγένειά μου
απαλά θα ξεπηδήσει
σα να βγαίνουν
απ’ της γης τον πάτο
να μ’ απαλλάξουν
απ’ το καθήκον
της αιώνιας επιστροφής

πανιά καϊκιών στον ορίζοντα απλωμένα
γλυκιά ατμόσφαιρα και νοσταλγία όταν
ένιωσα τον αρχαίο φόβο
να ξαναγυρίζει
τίποτα παρά μια υπόδειξη
του περάσματός μου
απ’ το στενό των Συμπληγάδων

Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems/Τάσου Λειβαδίτη-Εκλεγμένα Ποιήματα

Tasos Livaditis_Vanilla
~Love…transcendence of space and time
~Αγάπη…πέραν χρόνου και τόπου

My beloved
I love you more than I can say in words.
Yes, my beloved. Long before I met you
I had waited for you. I had always waited for you.

When I was a child and my mother would see me sad
she would lean down and ask. What is it my boy?
I wouldn’t talk. I would only look behind her shoulder
at a world without you.
And as I played the pencil with my fingers
it was as if I learned to write songs for you.

Αγαπημένη μου
σ’ αγαπώ πιο πολύ απ’ ό,τι μπορώ να σου πω με λόγια.
Ναι, αγαπημένη μου. Πολύ πριν να σε συναντήσω
εγώ σε περίμενα. Πάντοτε σε περίμενα.
Σάν είμουνα παιδί και μ’ έβλεπε λυπημένο η μητέρα μου
έσκυβε και με ρωτούσε. Τι έχεις αγόρι;
Δε μίλαγα. Μονάχα κοίταζα πίσω απ’ τον ώμο της
έναν κόσμο άδειο από σένα.
Και καθώς πηγαινόφερνα το παιδικό κοντύλι
ήτανε για να μάθω να σου γράφω τραγούδια.

~Τάσου Λειβαδίτη-Εκλεγμένα Ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis

IMAGES OF ABSENCE-ΕΙΚΟΝΕΣ ΑΠΟΥΣΙΑΣ

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PHONE CALL

Your abrupt voice
echoed on the other side
of the telephone line
rekindled our last conversation

I remember we had met
in autumn
brown leaves over
the lone grave site and
I was disturbed with
the red carnation of my lapel

I didn’t expect your call
obviously hesitant
your voice and your laughter
roared through the dead line
cold sweat over my body

strange, I didn’t expect you
to call so soon: it was just the day
before yesterday when we buried you

ΤΗΛΕΦΩΝΗΜΑ

Απότομη η φωνή σου
στο τηλέφωνο
ηχώ στ’ αυτιά κι ανάμνηση
της τελευταία μας κουβέντας

θυμάμαι είχαμε συναντηθεί
φθινόπωρο που
φύλλα καφετιά στόλιζαν
το μοναχικό τάφο
κι εγώ ανάστατος
με το γαρύφαλλο στο πέτο

δεν περίμενα να τηλεφωνήσεις
ολοφάνερα δισταχτική
η φωνή σου και το γέλιο σου
αντιβούησε στην άψυχη γραμμή
κρύος ιδρώτας στο κορμί μου

παράξενο, δεν το περίμενα
σήμερα να τηλεφωνήσεις
μόλις προχθές σε θάψαμε

~Εικόνες Απουσίας-Σαιξπηρικόν, άνοιξη 2015
~Images of Absence-Ekstasis Editions, spring 2015
http://www.ekstasiseditions.com
http://www.libroslibertad.ca

VERNAL EQUINOX/ΕΑΡΙΝΗ ΙΣΗΜΕΡΙΑ

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vernal equinox
Visitor

That he didn’t come
though expected
leaves you with
his image lingering
in the room on the lamp
the side table
your notebook filled
with poems
about him entering
like a band of light on the wall
and illuminating
your morning making
love to you
most tenderly

suddenly his absence
intrudes more sharply

Επισκέπτης

Δεν ήρθε κι η αναμονή
που τόσο τον περίμενες
σ’ αφήνει με την εικόνα του
να φτερουγίζει στο δωμάτιο
απ’ τη λάμπα στο τραπεζάκι,
στο σημειωματάριό σου το γιομάτο
ποιήματα για κείνον,
να έρθει και να μπει
λωρίδα φως πάνω στον τοίχο
ν’ αντανακλά
τον πρωϊνό ήλιο
και να σου κάνει
έρωτα τρυφερό.

Ξάφνου η απουσία του
γίνεται τρομερά βασανιστική

~Εαρινή Ισημερία, Ενεκεν, 2011
~Vernal Equinox, Ekstasis Editions, 2011

Can you hear me?-Letters to an Imaginary Lover

MORNING WAKE UP

My love,

I can endure everything away from you. One I can’t: waking up next to your vacant pillow.
It’s hard to get used to coming back home alone at night but the morning wake up is unbearable.
I’m truthful to you I open my eyes and shut them right away. I don’t want to wake up. I can’t endure to stretch my arm on the empty side of the bed.
The bathroom misses the sounds of you shaving and the fragrance of your after shave.
I cover myself to the head with the bed coverings and wish light wouldn’t come, time won’t come when I’ll have to go down to the kitchen to make coffee.
In the morning!
The breakfast I prepared for you and the coffee we had together.
When I took you to the garage door and kissed you good morning.
When I looked at you as you drove the car away.
The day that has no reason to commence, no expectation for your return at night.
Every day from now on.
Day after day until I get used to it.

Το πρωινό ξύπνημα

Αγάπη μου!
Όλα μπορώ να τ’ αντέξω μακριά σου. Το μόνο που δεν αντέχεται είναι το πρωινό ξύπνημα δίπλα στο άδειο σου μαξιλάρι.
Είναι δύσκολο να συνηθίσω το βράδυ που γυρίζω σπίτι μόνη, αλλά το πρωινό ξύπνημα είναι ανυπόφορο.
Αλήθεια σου λέω, ανοίγω τα μάτια μου και τα ξανακλείνω αμέσως. Δε θέλω να ξυπνήσω. Δεν αντέχω ν’ απλώσω το χέρι μου στην άδεια μεριά του κρεβατιού.
Απ’ το μπάνιο λείπει η μυρωδιά του πρωινού ξυρίσματος και της κολόνιας σου.
Κουκουλώνομαι ξανά στα σκεπάσματα κι εύχομαι να μην έρθει η μέρα, να μην περάσει η ώρα, να μην πρέπει να σηκωθώ επιτέλους και να κατέβω στην άδεια κουζίνα να κάνω καφέ.
Το πρωινό!
Αυτό το πρωινό που σου ετοίμαζα κι ο καφές που πίναμε μαζί.
Που σε κατέβαζα μέχρι την πόρτα του γκαράζ και σε φιλούσα για καλημέρα.
Που σε κοίταγα μετά να φεύγεις με τ’ αυτοκίνητο.
Η μέρα, που δεν έχει πια νόημα ν’ αρχίσει, χωρίς την προσμονή της βραδινής επιστροφής σου.
Η κάθε μέρα, από ’δω και μπρος.
Μέρα με τη μέρα, μέχρι να τη συνηθίσω κι αυτή.

~From the book “Can you hear me?-Letters to an Imaginary Lover” by Tzoutzi Mantzourani/ Translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, summer 2015

YANNIS RITSOS-SELECTED POEMS/TRANSLATED BY MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS

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Yannis Ritsos – Poems

A careful hand is needed to translate the poems of Yannis Ritsos, and Manolis is the ideal poet to undertake such an enormous task. Born in Crete, Manolis’s youth was intermingled with the poetry of Ritsos. Once a young man moved by the Theodorakis version of Epitaphios, he’s now a successful poet in his own right who is still moved to tears hearing the refrains of those notes from half a century ago. His Greek heritage, with its knowledge of the terrain, people, history and cultural themes, makes his translation all the more true to what Ritsos intended. Having visited the very places of which Ritsos wrote, he knows how the light and sea shift, and how Ritsos imagined those changes as being a temperament and personality of the Greece itself. The parallels in their lives are uncanny: when Ritsos was imprisoned, Manolis’ father also was imprisoned on false charges. Both men dealt with the forces of dictators and censorship, and experienced the cruel and unreasoning forces of those times. In fact, they even lived for a time in the same neighborhood. In his foreword to Poems, Manolis relates that he viewed him as a comrade, one whose “work resonated with our intense passion for our motherland and also in our veracity and strong-willed quest to find justice for all Greeks.” In Poems, Manolis chose to honor Ritsos first by not just picking and choosing a few titles to translate, although that might have been far easier. Instead, he undertook the complex task of translating fifteen entire books of Ritsos work-an endeavor that took years of meticulous research and patience. It should be noted that along with the translation, edited by Apryl Leaf, that he also includes a significant Introduction that gives a reader unfamiliar with Ritsos an excellent background on the poet from his own perspective. Dated according to when Ritsos composed them, it’s fascinating to see how some days were especially productive for him. These small details are helpful in understanding the context and meaning. For example, in Notes on the Margins of Time, written from 1938-1941, Ritsos explores the forces of war that are trickling into even the smallest villages. Without direct commentary, he alludes to trains, blood, and the sea that takes soldiers away, seldom to return. Playing an active role in these violent times, the moon observes all, and even appears as a thief ready to steal life from whom it is still new. From “In the Barracks”:

The moon entered the barracks It rummaged in the soldiers’ blankets Touched an undressed arm Sleep Someone talks in his sleep Someone snores A shadow gesture on the long wall The last trolley bus went by Quietness

Can all these be dead tomorrow? Can they be dead from right now?

A soldier wakes up He looks around with glassy eyes A thread of blood hangs from the moon’s lips

In Romiosini, the postwar years are a focus (1945-1947), and they have not been kind. The seven parts to this piece each reflect a soldier’s journey home.

These trees don’t take comfort in less sky These rocks don’t take comfort under foreigners’ Footsteps These faces don’t’ take comfort but only In the sun These hearts don’t take comfort except in justice.

The return to his country is marked by bullet-ridden walls, burnt-out homes, decay, and the predominantly female populace, one that still hears the bombs falling and the screams of the dead as they dully gaze about, looking for fathers, husbands, and sons. The traveler’s journey is marked by introspection and grim memories reflected on to the surfaces of places and things he thought he knew.

And now is the time when the moon kisses him sorrowfully Close to his ear The seaweed the flowerpot the stool and the stone ladder Say good evening to him And the mountains the seas and cities and the sky Say good evening to him And then finally shaking the ash off his cigarette Over the iron railing He may cry because of his assurance He may cry because of the assurance of the trees and The stars and his brothers

An entirely different feeling is found in Parentheses, composed 1946-1947. In it, healing is observed and a generosity of spirit exerts itself among those whose hearts had been previously crushed. In “Understanding”:

A woman said good morning to someone – so simple and natural Good morning… Neither division nor subtraction To be able to look outside Yourself-warmth and serenity Not to be ‘just yourself’ but ‘you too’ A small addition A small act of practical arithmetic easily understood…

On the surface, it may appear simple, a return to familiarity that may have been difficulty in times of war. Yet on another level, he appears to be referring to the unity among the Greek people-the ‘practical arithmetic’ that kept them united though their political state was volatile. Essentially timeless, his counsel goes far beyond nationalism.

Moonlight Sonata, written in 1956, is an impossibly romantic and poignant lyric poem that feels more like a short story. In it, a middle-aged woman talks to a young man in her rustic home. As he prepares to leave, she asks to walk with him a bit in the moonlight. “The moon is good –it doesn’t show my gray hair. The moon will turn my hair gold again. You won’t see the difference. Let me come with you”

Her refrain is repeated over and over as they walk, with him silent and her practically begging him to take her away from the house and its memories:

I know that everyone marches to love alone Alone to glory and to death I know it I tried it It’s of no use Let me come with you

The poem reveals her memories as well as his awkward silence, yet at the end of their journey, she doesn’t leave. Ritsos leaves the ending open: was it a dream? If not, why did she not go? What hold did the house have over her? Was it just the moonlight or a song on the radio that emboldened her?

In 1971, Ritsos wrote The Caretaker’s Desk in Athens, where he was under surveillance but essentially free. At this time he seems to be translating himself-that of how he was processing his own personal history. Already acclaimed for his work, perhaps he was uncertain of his own identity.

From “The Unknown”,

He knew what his successive disguises stood for (even with them often out of time and always vague) A fencer a herald a priest a rope-walker A hero a victim a dead Iphigenia He didn’t know The one he disguised himself as His colorful costumes Pile on the floor covering the hole of the floor And on top of the pile the carved golden mask And in the cavity of the mask the unfired pistol

If he is indeed discussing his identity, it’s with incredible honesty as to both his public persona and his private character. After all, he’d been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968 (and eight more times) and he was likely weighing, in his later years, all that he’d endured.

The beauty of this particular translation is that, while subjects and emotions change over time, they still feel united by the underlying character of Ritsos. Some translators leave their own imprint or influence, yet this feels free of such adjustment. It’s as if Ritsos’ voice itself has been translated, with the pauses, humor, and pace that identify the subtle characteristics of an individual.

~Wikipedia

Dimitris Liantinis-Hour of the Stars

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ΛΑΓΩΟΣ

Τῶν ἱερῶν Ἀγρυπνιῶν στον ναό τῆς Κοίμησης.
Τό μάτι του ξανοιγόταν ἀχάραγο γυαλί
πού νά τό λιμπιστεῖ ἡ Ἄρτεμη κάτοπτρο.
Μεσάνυχτα λάβαιναν μέσα του σχῆμα
τά ἀργυρά νομίσματα τῆς ἀστροφεγγιᾶς
τό δάσος νά πίνει μία – μία τίς ὧρες
κι ὅσες θησαύριζε θημωνιές μέ ὀνείρατα
ἡ σιωπή γαλαθηνή.
Μόνον ὅταν στήν ἄκρη του κλεφτά
χαράχτηκε τό εἴδωλο ἑνοῦ ρήσου πλουμιάρη
ἐπικράνθη ὁ ἄνεμος.
Ἔσπασε ξερά ἡ λαμπήθρα τοῦ ὕπνου
κι ἄστραψε στό σκοτάδι ὁ κόσμος.

RABBIT

During the Holy Vigils at the church of Dormition
his open eyes resembled unscratched glass
that Artemis would wish as mirror.
At midnight the silver coins of starry sky
took shape in his viscera
the forest drank the hours one by one
and all the haystacks treasures of dreams
silence suckled.
But when the idol of the red golden hair
appeared on its side
the wind was embittered.
The dry iris of the day shuttered
and the world shone in the darkness.

~Δημήτρη Λιαντίνη-Οι Ώρες των Άστρων/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Dimitris Liantinis-Hour of the Stars/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis