As published in Volume 10, NO 1, March 2013
Anthology by Yiorgos K. Myaris POEMS, Larnaca 1972 IN PERSPECTIVE Like a melted drop in the heat of noon you bring to the lips the blessed taste of early summer; and as you turn your face away from life, as it is given in the distance translucent in the light of the depth you appear to be reality and dream – yesterday, today, tomorrow: one. POEM The poem is the void beyond the period of the last sentence the margins, what separates one verse from another consider as predisposition; the poet will begin to speak after the last period. OLD HOUSE A time comes to leave the house where you were born where you lived ten, twenty years, a whole lifetime. They remove the furniture one by one. Only the cold gaze of the naked walls remains to keep you company. You tie memories a knot in your handkerchief and you depart... But, before your gaze passes through the rooms one last time, before you close the door behind you for the last time do not forget the marks of the steps that you leave behind. Sweep their dust into a corner so they will not be disturbed by the steps of those who are coming. VERSES FOR MUSIC You will no longer find the face behind the green leaf of silence the music has already faded, the lights have dimmed; which promise, I do not know which delusions will be replaced by the gravity of another decision. Down in the valley with the butterflies you will no longer find the lost steps; there now the grass comes up to the knees and perhaps your loneliness was impassable in the naked potentiality of a new expectation. PAINTING BY NUMBERS Let us first determine the direction: after home comes work, work comes after home, you are hunted by the two hundred windows of the houses, hunted by the eyes that do not look at you, by your small round letters that speak of a futile battle; here all exists to hurt you to create irreversible situations and then you are caught and cannot escape perspective is only for those who assimilate. You cannot stage a small, logical rebellion and say: I will stay awake on the streets tonight and greet this night one hundred miles an hour with a loud shirt of indifference; in our towns the roofs of the houses hang low they cast shadows in the corners and frighten the passers-by people walk carefully along the pavements, suddenly descend, walk through you and look at you. You can only, leaving your empty office leaving the uncertainty of the eyes and shadows, peacefully occupy yourself at home “painting by numbers” – in the box you find a canvas marked by numbers a design outlined without hints or doubts simple, printed in one hundred thousand copies, you find all the required colours, in the required quantities and you keep passively busy all afternoon colouring in the numbered squares that will render a pristinely defined sketch of superficiality. POSITION I Passers-by you and I with an unbearable yoke heavy on the shoulders, passers-by you and I; for the blue dream we have lost our way. Passers-by and we keep asking where have we come from, where do we go? II We were fooled by the colour and the light and we left the “wheres” and “hows,” fooled by the voice from the distance and we are unprepared for tears fooled by the empty summer and by the road that has no end. So do not ask us if we are dead or alive, now that we keep silent, do not ask us about tomorrows, about hopes since we have not met you and you have not seen us. (1969) DAILY COMMAND You should fear the other shadow that does not follow you that does not keep within the exact outline of your presence At times it gets ahead of you and at a certain incline of light reveals your true stature; sometimes you come across it walking opposite to you and wonder what game is afoot recalling perhaps somewhat disposed to forgive perhaps somewhat retreating from your principles faces that you should have forgotten. But you should fear the other shadow even more as it jokingly gets mixed up with the simple shadow that follows you and deprives you of the possibility of seeking out a more probable boundary of freedom. DIAGRAM Twenty years counted in a few suspended moments trampled impressions of colours, impressions of deeds just enough to map an outline and to shout out “I begin” just enough to classify your world – far from conspicuous protrusions and a shining bliss. Twenty years for you to take the road of the return less wise, less in control of your doubts. FORWARD MARCH Lose the smile and proceed. One-two. The end comes with a little bell like a clown that you hear approaching, approaching while you wait for his funny face and fear his wounded face. Who convinced you to put on this ridiculous cap of certainty? Lose the smile, I said, and proceed. One-two. The end comes with the agony of certainty an ant that slipped into the bosom and will be caught by the fingers at any moment and crushed, with certainty. One-two. Who fooled you with a thorn of blitheness with a retroactive promise of kindness? One-two. The end comes a dream without start a night without end. DEMYSTIFICATION, Nicosia 1978 GRAFFITI In order to be true to your time throw poetry to the dogs From the words keep only those that shine light at the end of rage And if they say that you have betrayed poetry as long as you speak the truth have no fear. One who is choking does not sing; He howls. POSTSCRIPT By aggrandizing the deed we betray the vision. Our heroes were human, unpretentious in their futile sacrifice; we shall not mar their memory with parades, sonorous speeches and with the flag up front conveniently hiding our nakedness. We will honour them humanly, with many tears and with the heart open to the sun. REFUGEE POEM I We have passed the limits of patience and now sail like ships in the open seas alone in the vastness; heart please help us set the limits of our loneliness without the land, without our homes which do not keep within the given shape, help us keep the eyes clear on friend and foe, on the imposition of the night and the palm a tender nest for the knife. NEW HOUSE New house, who was it that led my steps to a foreign land to speak to you wearing despair a stone around the neck like a drowned hunter of mature rain? New home, sharp grass of loneliness you tie the harvest a secret at the corner of the eye like an old woman in uneasy times travelling where it does not suffice, scattering dead images, pebbles behind: keys of other outlines they had sailed life at one time at an unmatched pace. New house, viper-window of the folded city do not wait for the fairy-tale before climbing in through closed doors that get ready for a dream wand of contempt. APRIL 1st, 1975 Your people pass loaded up with medals and the medals do not fill up with bread, only mark with blood and death all the world’s small all the world’s drowned who do not even float. Their crutches scrape the soil of rage, piercing like wooden pegs our certain hearts. THIRD PERSON, Nicosia 1992 THE DOOR OPENED The door opened and the Alexandrine entered with the slow gait of centenarian elder. He sat silently for a long time in the shade, where his moist eyes shone. At one moment, imperceptibly he pulled the string of the dead language. Smyrna is lost, Ionia is lost, the Gods are lost... Which Gods was he speaking of, which Smyrna, which Ionia? Could it have been a delirium of his ailing soul? V.M. Vassilis, the voice we were hearing was not yours and we did not recognize the face since though they were casting pebbles, the waters did not stir. Their eyes held a fatigue that could not be hidden, they even remembered some of your verses, perhaps to make sure that you had not passed on perhaps to cover some shame of theirs that persists and when they all fell quiet or asleep your noble face emerged through the double darkness. PORTRAIT OF AN ABSENTEE Then the river began flowing into the house, rushing under the furniture, lifting the trunk with the photographs. Yiannis could not scream. His thoughts remained in the manuscripts that he had had no time to burn. And when the river came for him the thermometer insisted on showing the last temperature of his body. CHRONICLE Every night the city was kept awake by the moaning of the wounded. Every morning the sun would rise over the roofs, in the trees that still dripped of dew and rain, a sun tired from sleeplessness would rise, with numb hands. All day long it would struggle to dry the blood from the wounds; and when night would fall again under the uninvolved new moon the moans and the infernal sounds would resume. I speak of unjustified passions that reside beneath the surface of ordinary things. THREE EROTIC POEMS I In the temperament of your melancholy a bird ascends, that I can barely describe. It could have been a small suspended stone, a fairy-tale walking the tightrope in the waking hours before flowing into the upturned palms of silence, it could have been a voice that does not signal submission to the yes and the no of death, a plaster cast of the bidirectional day but it's just a startled bird that rises to the temperament of your melancholy. II I will say it again: I do not believe in the cheek of the morning, in the sharp optimism a second time, a third I will give my life to convince you because there is no going back and the birds are settling into a new shape mechanically wearing profound wounds. III So that I wont fear the shadows in your eyes the multi-person loneliness of the day I grow with you the music on your marked body competes, in dance, with the starry night. STRIP TEASE He who hopes hides so as not to be seen naked and hungry; he who hides looks secretly in the darkness, listens in on the fluttering of birds, on the footsteps of cats always suspended on the same route, on the same expenditure carves verses risking his loneliness I give you my soul, what do you give? THE ONES WHO RESEMBLE PLANTS The ones who resemble plants move about almost immobile on the spot indifferent to calculations foreign to passions from the friction of the crowd wear soft shoes that do not mark the ground on which they step; the ones who resemble plants do not undersign verses nor paint, never sing with a voice that can be heard. THE SYMMETRY OF THE COSMOS All is built-in to the symmetry of the Cosmos. The red shirt of the afternoon drenched in the thirst of the shore next to a nude girl sunning herself sounds that fall silent in the light this old woman who once used to mourn her son but now hopes not even in death as she watches a dog wandering aimlessly in the neighbourhood the years that we did not expect but which have come and the others that we did expect but which will not come referendums, mosaics, made-up idols myths, wounds, the right side up and the upside down of an undelivered life the voiceless cry the merciful nonexistence Miranda, Haris, Stephanos and the hallucinatory seal of donation. THE LAST The verses continually diminish like the desires like the dreams like our days with every beat of the heart. Translated by Irena Joannides
Phoivos Stavrides (Larnaca, 1938-2012) was a poet, publisher, researcher and scholar. He studied pharmacy at the American University of Beirut. He was a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Cyprus (1978) and of the Society of Authors. He made his first appearance in literature in 1958 with a short story that received a prize from Ellinikos Pnevmatikos Omilos Kyprou. He published in Larnaca, in collaboration with small editorial committee (1980-1986), the literary magazine Kyklos. In collaboration with Lefteris Papaleontiou and Savvas Pavlou he founded the magazine Mikrophilologika (Nicosia, 1997 onward).
In collaboration with poet Theodosis Nicolaou, he edited the collected works of Pantelis Mechanikos entitled Poems (Nicosia, 1982). He also published Epaminondas Fragoudis’ Traveling to Montenegro (Nicosia, 1994) and Savvas Tserkezis’ Diary of My Life, Starting in the Year 1886 (Nicosia 1988, 2007).
Phoivos Stavrides published the following three personal poetry collections: Poems, Larnaca, 1972; Demystification, 1978; Third person, 1992.
He also published studies and bibliographies on Greek and Cypriot writers. Examples include:
• The Poet As Sculptor. Ten Years Since the Death of Pantelis Mechanikos (1990).
• A Bibliography of Cypriot Literature from Leontios Machairas Until Today (2001), in collaboration with Lefteris Papaleontiou and Savvas Pavlou.
• A Bibliography of Cypriot Folk Poetry. Tabloids and Self-contained Publications (1884-1960) (2002).
In 1972, Phoivos Stavrides received the National Poetry Prize.
He also contributed to the literary magazines Kypriaka Chronika, Pnevmatiki Kypros, Philologiki Kypros, Akti, Epta Meres (Kathimerini Newspaper), Anti, Diavazo, I Lexi, Nea Estia, Nea Epochi, Anev, Kypriaki Vivliofilia, I Paremvasi.
The relatively small body of his poetic work is regarded among the most unique literary contributions in Cyprus, due to its minimalist expression, contemplative mood, disillusionment and irony. His monographs, studies, and participation in group interventions have greatly raised the bar in the research on Cypriot literature and culture. Determinative was also his contribution to the literary activity of Cyprus and to the presence of Cyprus online.
He was co-founder and administrator of the blog Mikrophilologika. http://microphilologica.blogspot.com/
He was also founder of the following websites:
• Alli Kypros. Martyries anthropon kai topon. (The Other Cyprus. Testimonies of people and places.): http://allikypros.wordpress.com/
• Larnaca (A website about Larnaca): http://larnaka.wordpress.com/
• Retalia et alia: Texts on books and literature: http://kitieus.wordpress.com/Biographical Notes and Anthology by Yiorgos K. Myaris. Translated by Irena Joannides