Christodoulos Kallinos

UNTITLED I

I will die

but roam at night

to see how small

– so small

are human moments…

 

UNTITLED II

All I have ever written were footnotes.

Verses I did not write,

I admired the eternal poems that stroll

afternoons in the avenues of Nicosia

and of every city

famous for its superb versification…

 

UNTITLED VI

In my biographical note

I include no details of my life,

such as where I was born and how many times I have died.

 

ODE TO NAPOLEON LAPATHIOTIS

A bird of the night he was, elegant,

fine-looking.

A well-known bohemian of the era.

Always sporting a flower on his lapel.

A dandy like Oscar Wilde.

A poet estet.

Fluent in French

a piano virtuoso,

a tender master of the verse, a dreamer.

He loved the night, the moonlight,

a quivering candle was his poetry,

a slowly waning moon his breath.

 

THE MEETING

for Carolina Öhrn

I meet them often when they walk

silent and alone.

I meet them when they walk

sunk in thought.

What could those who walk

silent and alone at hours such as these

be thinking?

Could they be thinking about what they have won, lost

or nothing of the sort?

Could they be thinking about women

they have loved, lost

or still love?

I meet them often when they walk

silent and alone.

 

AT THE COFFEE SHOP 

OF THE DESPERATE

Let’s speak tomorrow

I will be here

in this neighbourhood

in his city,

I will walk

the same road

that lonely passersby

walk.

Look for me

at the coffee shop of the desperate.

 

FRAGMENTUM III

Malice is an ugly thing; the ugliness of the soul.

 

FRAGMENTUM V

Eventually death will come to erase it all, our terrible crimes…

 

FRAGMENTUM VI

Itís time for the silence of centuries, we have said too much…

 

FRAGMENTUM VII

I want my verses to drip of sweat, like

lovers at the peak of passion.

 

GUILT

At night feelings of guilt pounded at my door

bringing back to me

everything I wanted to send far away.

Late at night

I would wake up,

wrestle the nightmare, exorcise the feelings of guilt.

Chasing them maniacally, saying “next night

I will arm myself mightily

with munitions and armour, sooner or later

I will have the coup de grâce

and go back to sleep triumphant

with doors and windows open.”

Lately they knock and I open

at the first rap,

I leave the windows open

and they enter.

Now, they no longer come and I worry.

One night, by chance, I saw one from afar.

I ran… “I am expecting you. When will you come?”

We have been decimated… it replied,

there are so few of us left

that we no longer hound every random person.

We seek out those who deserve

those who are worthy

of feelings of guilt.

 

THE NIGHT

“I often think that the night is more alive 

and more richly coloured than the day.”  – Vincent van Gogh

The night is very unjust,

it blames me

for emotional murders,

imputes motive to me

there, where I had no choice.

But there are hours when the night

is superb, when it is sweet

because Eros is acquainted with it

much better.

Fellow travellers in the darkness

in futile meanderings

we will be forgotten before the dawn

reveals that it too

was just another delusion.

THE MUTE POET

This mute poet,

who is burdened by the rage of the terrible winds

by the sorrow of the closed windows

by the anguish of the deserted streets.

This mute poet

who is burdened by silence

by the injustice of the centuries

this mute poet

will not speak…

A HUMBLE CRAFTSMAN

for Christodoulos Drakos* in memoriam

Tame the language, poet,

like the matador

who grabs the bull by the horns

and leads him where he pleases.

Poet, chisel the verse

like the fine artisan

who sculpts stone and marble

and forms wondrous works.

Become a poet, a good artisan

become a humble craftsman!

* Christodoulos Drakos (1918-2018) was the poetís grandfather. He was the person who initiated him, as a child, into poetry, into the love of learning and democratic values.

PROSE WRITERS AND POETS

à la manière de Marc Chagall

Deep down prose writers envy

poets.

They watch them flying above the city

suddenly becoming invisible

at times travelling without a ship

without a train, without a passport.

Deep down prose writers envy

poets

even have reasons to hate them.

Do you know any prose writer comparable

to Cavafy the Alexandrian or to Leonard Cohen

in the art of love?

This is why prose writers hate

poets.

Because they know that, in the sport of love

in all centuries to come,

they will never throw the javelin farther.

IN ONE NIGHT

In one night everything changed.

You left

and I sit here

where the wind has sown me

where the rain has brought me to life

where History has raised me

on dreams.

I will die quietly.

In one night I will become one with the infinite

with the emptiness

I will become a drop of rain.

Come, cover me, eternity

with your veil

eternity, amen.

Give rest to my soul, lord,

Give me rest, lord, amen.

REFRACTION OF LIGHT

For example red and blue

white and black

could be considered refractions of light

or of the stars.

You insist on loving

you insist on infertile lands, barren soil.

WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE

Women of a certain age

possess a melancholy, a magic

they lack conceit

and youth, of course.

Wrestling with waves

garments always black or violet

typical

of women of a certain age.

“Dear lady, you are elegant

and the subject of this elegy”

I almost uttered…

as she was walking past with eyes

turned toward the vastness; with eyes

already in the beyond.

Women of a certain age

possess a melancholy, a magic.

She may be a lady of a certain age

but she is elegant; tonight I find her

so sad, in tears again.

a letter

for Anna

I will write a letter to you

and tell you without evasiveness

that I no longer care if you come

or you do not.

You used to be essential to me

but I have grown tired of thinking.

Now I will enjoy you differently.

If you come, I will be pleased.

And if you do not

be well

be beautiful as always

and love me.

WHY TELL ME…

Why tell me and slay me?

Why shoot me?

Let me live with the delusion

with the expectation.

IDENTITY MODIFICATION

On my identity card they wrote without asking

religion: Christian Orthodox.

I struck it out!

And wrote: in everything a heretic

and unorthodox

and in poetry minor!

Translated by Irena Joannides


Christodoulos Callinos belongs to the new generation of Cypriot poets. He is a regular contributor to Phileleftheros newspaper and Anev magazine. His literary work and his essays on art and culture appear regularly in magazines such as In Focus, Frear, Poein, etc. In 2003 his poetry garnered the First Prize at a Pancyprian competition organized by the National Society of Cyprus  while, in 2008, it received an award by the Association of Cypriot Writers. His poems have been included in anthologies such as the Anthology of Contemporary Cypriot Poetry published by Mandragoras.