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NIKOLAOS VLAHAKIS

NIKOLAOS VLAHAKIS

Odour of death


Death;
a small interrupted storm.

Death;
like a cleft in a rock
vigilant trap

Death;
sisterhood of silences
bridal glow-worms
and grasshoppers with instincts of a killer
salted fields
and abandoned machine gun platforms

Death;
evacuation of maimed
demons
and abrupt orders
to hotel girls

Death;
that I havent had enough of you yet
and now and tomorrow
the grand resignations.



Ancient Warriors
I

Ancient warriors

with bone-breaking eagles
a disappearing species
like the conscience of the Komneni-
bronze turned green fading without glory
capes with diadems
and swords hanging from the beams

species for finding
by student archaeologists-
wild staring, sleepless
haunted but unmarbled
with pennies in their pockets and cigarettes
to accompany them to death.

Boats take them back and forth across lakes
over buried cities
bewitched frogs
like brigades on stand by
howling and impregnated
with History;
camouflaged war cries
and messages of heroic songs
Wait for the moment
when we unsheathe
just wait!

Women with torn entrails
and moaning scattered all around
bad teeth
and slapped cheeks
humiliated by waiting
weave cords
in invisible mandolins
II

Foreign mercenaries
consume champagne
and give orders
with mobile phones.

Ginsberg is gone
hes been dead three months now
and Hong Kong
now belongs to Beijing
Hitler lives in California!
Jim Morisson will shout
and a moron King
returns to South Africa.

Apollinaires grave
is covered with grass somewhere in Paris
and Tses bones
were handed over to Aleida
while in Vigiamarte
all that remained was a plaster mould

So I invite my friends
my surrealist friends and their mistresses
white mares in paintings of Greekness
tiny rusty gods
and ever virgin ladies of the vineyards.
Cheers, I cry, to our death in dream!
and cheers to the girls
who loved us
in those summers learning French
and filling up pink albums.

VI

The tenth day finally
the full stop
found me riding
a painted sea beast
decorated with purple seaweed
and escorted by sunborn cows
resembling Homeric fantasies
there where
the horizon melts and evaporates
to rise again irrecognizable
like a pillar of salt

lepers and paralytics
waiting for me
on coasts of isolation
and with them prostituted mermaids
asking me
if Van Gogh remembers them

Terrestrial Medousas
scaling
oak and pine branches
with a hell-bound past
and buried unutterable legends
devouring the birds
of three Heavens.
When am I to decorate
my shields with you
horrifying and revolting
my lovers
who in your previous
lives
castrated your bearded
and unsuspecting genitors.

Cursed Artemises
because you are in my way
in passages haunted
by cross-bearing tombstones
and orphaned mermaids
their brother
promised them a marriage in a foreign land.
From what turret
did the princess of Spinalonga
threw herself, I wonder.
I can still hear the waters
running from the peaks of the mountains
to refresh you;

how many Mediterranean lovers
greeted me
as I was going by
with festive red sails
and how many gypsies carving brass
nodded and promised me
their innocence
aiming maybe
to be relieved
from History?
Finally I didnt recruit them.

I must have landed
in Crete
when I saw
the imaginary funeral of Salvador Dali
with fledgling angels
born
from enormous eggs
and then flying away,
fruit offered in straw hats
to five thousand invisible ones
and girls
creating borders on glass.

Iridescent colours and a school of dolphins
with human voice
an amphora lost at sea
is all the performance I set for my welcome.

What was really
waiting for me was
a stubbed Drosoulite
at a midday burning hot hour
the hoarse rizitika songs really beautiful
the wine serving octaves
and metal resounding
like sky blue ironstone

here is where my bronchus ends.

IX

Memories full
of pirates in the Adriatic
and nomads peeling
pomegranates with their teeth.

Fanatic Latinists
envoys of the Pope in Avignon
bury centuries later
the body of a nun in Calcutta.

War cries and clangs
rouse Apollonia
and Epidamnos of Mesembria
the Great.
Noble ladies sold
their jewellery
in one night
down in the harbour
searching for a ship;
no one realized
when the Ottomans
crossed the Egnatia
while the Slavs
were being baptized in rivers
with oaken deities
and wooden totems
floating on the Danube.

This Winter
We will lie
With French soldiers.

To the First World War
I met Seferis
as he was caressing
the roses of Korytsa
while from one moment to the next
Churchills announcent
was expected.

God help those
who will face lightings
in the middle of the sea!

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentis
Who could be the poet
of the last epigram?
Let him hang
from the echo of his overbearing lyricism!
surprised street cleaners
will come across his dead body
at the lamp posts of Prague
with piles under his heels
piles of candles
from student demonstrations;

bushy winds
wiped out the last promises
of couples in love
as they were dusting
legislative papyruses
of the Weimar Republic;

the Dow-Jones index
sways like a phallus
taking the form of the Damoclean sword;
How inexperienced Illyria
would wake up
The Minister second in order-
wishes to travel by land
to Salonica.
Please ensure
his comfortable and fast journey
as well as the appropriate reception.

Ultimum Refugium
the title of the last telegram
or again the rock opera
that queen Elizabeth attended
as from Britannia
only golden handles were floating.

And Timeo Danaos et Dona Ferentis,
I told you so!
END OF PATROL

Cities of the hinterland
The cities I reached
had streets half lit
sad hecatombs
of the demonstrations of the carbonari
with seals of apprentice kings
and the blessings of the Pope
like a sacred drizzle.
Inns with white towels
and noisy carpet factories
on their ground floor.
Law companies
and eager accountants
with easy week-ends
and old style carriages
at the gates of their yards.
The stock exchange prices
frozen.

In their public squares
the sacred sheet
hanging like a curtain
amidst the whirlwinds,

behind it
immigrant whores appeared
with green cards
and tight
jersey tops
sucking chocolate.

Public roads deadly and inexorable
with stagnant waters
full of animal lovers
and unemployed pastors.
From a distance one could hear
the sobs of a violin
like the sign of a dream.

Thats where I ended
my patrol
since I no longer had
the strength to plunder them.

And I ordered my most
faithful bodyguards
to organize
street performances
and distribute mess
with mayonnaise and newspaper paper.

My orders were clear:
No involvement
in dogmatic discussions
or on subjects
related
to the great Schism.

And I was obeyed.

The cities I layed eyes upon
were protected
in the hinterland,
and deep inside them
was the trace of a decree
and of silence.

The only thing I did
for them
was that
I turned their public servants
Into flames of a fire

And I finished

Let my words
then be
like goads and nails
planted.

January 27, 2002, Bruxelles

Translated from the Greek by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke

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