Christodoulos Makris

FIVE POEMS
 
Search Engine
 
Start typing ‘Athens’
into your search engine
 
and predictively
you’ll be sent to Athens,
 
Georgia. But isn’t
the capital of Georgia
 
Tbilisi, you ask.
Home is neither here nor there.
 
You’d better think again
if you expect to find
 
the English northwest
when you enter ‘Manchester’.
 
 
Michelle and Carla
 
Don’t bother issuing denials, ladies:
these photos leave little room for doubt.
For a start, there’s your gaze into each other’s eyes,
the intense tête-à-têtes, the resting of heads
on the other’s shoulder, the relaxed familiarity,
the gentle holding of hands –
though it’s not clear whose is the upper hand.
What’s quite clear is that your love is warm:
none of that dog collar and gimp-costume stuff
of the Bush and Blair era.
Theirs was a hardcore affair,
best kept under floorboards in grubby basements
alongside snuff movies, pederasty and coprophilia;
the porn the two of you produce is soft,
of the kind accessible by anyone over twelve.
According to these mags
you’ve begun to borrow from each other’s wardrobes,
your styles intermingling
as if we’re in the grip of another nouvelle vague.
And which of you controls the harem that escorts you –
is it a joint venture, an equilateral arrangement?
Embedded reportage of your satin-smooth romance
would be infinitely preferable to copy and photographs
from Gaza and Chechnya
or the nuclear militarization of North Korea.
Maybe it’s just old perverts like me who think like this.
Thank you, in any case,
for stoking our fantasies for years to come.
 
 
com
pass
ion
 
I’m drawn west
wards, staggering unbalanced
as if my ear
’s been hacked off. Tuned
out. I fall in a gutter, mud un
dried in the north
ern sun. The wine here
’s corked. In time I’m hauled
out by a dark
hand, her flailing be
flowered hair conceal
ing a surgic
al mind. We lie and talk
of home. South is my orient
ation, I say. South
is where I repeated
ly come
from, she offers. Half
arcs there on the night sky
map our motions.
 
The Cheeses of Cyprus
 
In the rugged interior
shepherds have continued to keep goats and sheep
through centuries of conflict,
making cheese in the same way as their forefathers.
 
Halloumi is a cooking cheese:
its character is only revealed when heated.
It holds its shape when fried or grilled;
when slices of it are placed in a hot pan
 
the outside becomes crisp and slightly charred
while the centre melts.
It’s now popular among young chefs
in Australia, New Zealand and the West Coast of America.
 
Halloumi is also made in the Lebanon and Romania.
Other cheeses common in Cyprus
are the Greek feta and kaskavali –
related to the Bulgarian katschkawalj and the Italian caciocavallo.
 
 
from Translations
 
The cold is starting to get into my bones
even though they are firm and crammed
full of calcium and iron, unlike my κόκκαλα1
which have stayed anaemic, brittle, sapped
like skeletons unearthed ages after interment,
crumbling at the touch of inquiring fingers.
•  •  •  
Question marks look like semi-colons˙
colons are hardly ever applied: except
when we get mad and vie to bugger you!
 
We soak dried fruit or nuts in asbestos –
part of the process of making sweet. What,
do you not put limestone in your columns;
•  •  • 
Money multiplies – changes from singular to
plural – if you journey east enough. Is this because
there the understanding persists that it’s not
 
an abstract, that each unit of it is tied to
the use – χρήμα2 – of the land? That, like
time, money can’t be made out of thin air?
 
1. κόκκαλα: Greek work for bones
2. χρήμα: Greek work for bones
As published in IN FOCUS, VOLUME 8, NO 3, SEPT 2011
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