LEFKIOS ZAFIRIOU

As published in Volume 11, NO 1, March 2014

Poem Selections 1975-2006

POEMS (1975)

THE OLD WOMAN

Stepped out on the balcony and became entwined

with the flower pots, the green.

You could barely distinguish her

dressed in black

tending to her garden;

a voice of colours was smiling

in the veins of her thoughts.

Then she vanished behind the curtains

carrying the whole world

into her room.

 

SIX VERSE POEMS

III

I am nothing

but the emperor

of lost serenity,

the emperor

of an endless night

that travels not.

 

NEARLY ENEMY PARTNERS (1977)

POETS

Poets do not speak

with chicken-shit words

they open their mouths

and discharge word blades.

Poets walk with the people

not with their loneliness;

they unfurl their verses

flags to the future

and stand vigilant

with thousands of songs upon their lips

on Tel el-Zataar and Pentadactylos.

 

TRANSCRIPTION (1978)

NEFELI

What rainstorm has cast you

inside me

and year after year you take root

deeper in my every fibre

in my every blood cell –

a damned song

your touch a raised scar

a whirling thought

adamantly transfixing me,

your obstinacy

a vertical rock

that drops into the sea

your eyes wide

to the quakes of electroshock

lie in wait merciless

and sad in the darkness;

I feign ignorance

a clueless saltimbanco

and your perceptiveness

startles me

I howl at the unsuspecting sense

of your absence,

under the arches of a timeless

freedom you move and

shift inside me a girl

under the poplars in the yard

of a crumbling home transmuting

darkness to light

pain to song

storing the years of your adolescence

under the soil

in an underground vessel

your blood coursing

through my veins.

 

MULATTO ANGEL (1980)

CYPRUS POEM I

You are inside me

a tender shoot

fractured glass

at risk of breaking

a white jasmine in the dark

a song of blue and green

on a disc without grooves

on the gramophone of terror;

you are inside me

a small meadow

torn open by callous compressors

stuffed with concrete and radars –

then technology’s metal vultures

mount your skin

you bow your head

like a wounded deer

under the light of the sun

and the hundred-leaf spring takes longer and longer

my island.

 

SORROW OF THE AFTERNOON (2006)

LORD BYRON IN CONSTANTINOPLE

Gazes at the walls of Theodosius

and at the nose of Sultan Mahmud

(thin and sharp with an

upward turn)

and at the Ottoman cemeteries with the tall cypress trees;

he whispers the words pimp

bread water

then descends the Avenue

Istiklal

among crowds

of idle girls

in colourful shops, on the tram

gazing at history’s suspended sadness.

25.7.2005

 

IMMORTALITY

The poet Dionysios Solomos

in his black overcoat

with a woeful face gazes

at the moonlight of immortality.

 

IN THE GRAY LIGHT

The shattered world

of Cyprus

and the final words

of Cesare Pavese

“I shall never write again”

In Salamina and in Engomi

the stained moon

in the frigid night;

we breathe in the dark

shivers of spring

 

WOMEN IN LEONARISSO

“They speak not, yet communicate
because they all know what no one will say”
– Yiorgos Markopoulos

In a strange land alone

without manuscripts of memory

daydreaming sipping coffee –

at times they feel that they are choking, on loneliness.

The flowers in the yard an x-ray

“What have I accomplished by staying?” the younger

is heard saying.

And her soliloquy about Kanakaria

“We went by chance, the mosaics were gone.”

Then she sits with crossed arms

sadness gazes within the eyes

in the smile in the black dress

of Mrs. Niovi;

the children insult her

in a foreign tongue.

Translated by Irena Joannides

Lefkios Zafiriou studied literature at the University of Athens and taught in secondary education and at the Teachers College. His published works include: Poems, 1975; Nearly Enemy Partners, 1977 [State Prize for Poetry]; Transcription, 1978; Mulatto Angel, 1980; Sorrow of the Afternoon, 2007 [State Prize for Poetry]; Poems 1964-2010, 2011; The Mobsters, 1983  [State Prize for Prose]; The Life and Work of Andreas Kalvos 1792-1869 [Prize of the Academy of Athens: Costas and Eleni Ourani Foundation].

 

 

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