As published in Volume 10, NO 3, September 2013

For three thousand years flows the river of Heraclitus 
with the wisest saying of all times
and still we want to step into it twice.
The mind knows, mistrusts the dream
for it’s in a dream that so many things come to pass.

Yet, never again will you encounter a woman you loved 
even if you do meet her
neither will you ever find the city you have left.

The years do not pass by unfilled. They are so laden
that they collapse under their own weight and break
and there’s nothing left for you to reunite. 

Only dreams can retrieve the irretrievable, 
poetry mend what’s broken.

One day when he got the chance, the poet talked to God:
Make, he told him, a new sphere
and place inside it the entire world
but above all, place at one edge
the ultimate fire of love
where bodies melt
and turn to lava flowing through the centuries. 
And at the other edge place
the ultimate frost of eternity
where bodies and souls
turn to a column frozen in infinity. 
Then offer me this sphere
to heal my ailing wound. 
When I see Charon with his naked sword
riding over the fence
and a moon like a sickle following in his footsteps 
upright would I step outside in the garden.

So many times have I dissolved in love’s pyre 
once more I would dissolve within the eternal frost 
and like a pole of light
extend along the universe
become a column in infinity. 

So fully have I filled with stars
growing as I have eating them like candies 
that I carry them within even when it is day.

In our yard with the trees of old,
half-crumpled walls and the elders 
who departed every day 
the stars were every night the one thing that was new.

My grandmother’s songs
recurring with the stars
ascended to the sky every night
each of them in search of its own star.

In the morning all of them plunged inside me. 

Now that the yard
is no more, nor is the house
and the elders have departed
I carry everything inside of me,
to each its one star.

And every night,
after a tiring day
with gains and damages and permanent losses,
nothing do I find that might be newer
than the stars.

Even he who never had a mother
discovers her thread inside the maze of his soul 
to call her at his hour of need,
when he finds himself upon the mouth of the well
or on the edge of the hill and the wrath of the wave. 

Not a single war was ever fought for mother
only rivers flew and watered the earth,
mountains were walked, trees bore fruit…

No mother can be compared to another mother
and no one wants more mother,
everyone has the amount of mother they need to call 
at their moment of peril. 

Within this cry every meaning comes together
natural and supernatural become one
as seamlessly as no god nor homeland could ever manage.

No other name can enclose so many things,
none other can make us remember
at our most bestial hour 
that we are humans.

Sometimes it seems to me I am a robber
and other times I say I myself am robbed.

Uncouth I came through my barren land and the forest
and robbed words and colours 
and made a world from nothing and a flag from zero. 

A robber, I entered the thrills of poetry,
robber of love twice and thrice.
Widely I travelled and tasted tastes uncommon
of drinks and foods 
and scents of distant worlds. 

A robber of the moon, the sun and the sea,
of the green grass and the white rock,
of the awareness – a robber – of crucified poets.

In the end I took nothing.
Everything is here in this open basket of verses
even as secretly, persistently
time is robbing me blind. 

Time is so much smaller than desire.
Like a master robber it slides down the earth’s incline
and swiftly disappears in the horizon.

On my earnings he feeds and moves on
unscrupulous embezzler 
whilst the earth keeps spinning in the cosmos. 

I am a candle.
I was lit for a moment
by love’s passion
thrown between time,
I feed and burn out
on the wind of life.

I burn and illuminate
I burn and burn out
walking on in the dark
that keeps transposing
and won’t burn out.

But where does it go, this aura?
Where is it invested?
What will become of the daily?
And is this enough?


To Nona, who gave me the idea

I saw him everywhere. At the sancta of the Pope and the Patriarch,
in China’s Buddhist temples with the many tapers
and India’s Hindu ones with the many faces
and the withered flowers of the pilgrims.

God is a doll and man
holds him by the hand and drags him
along the roads of his own anxiety. 

When he is little, he lulls him to sleep in the crib,
a teenager, he admires for his power,
an old man, he is feared of for his wisdom.
He bathes, and scents and garners him,
dresses him in gold, loves him,
exasperates and puts him in the corner,
buries and resurrects him,
marches him to war, invites him
to birth, wedding, funeral.

God is a doll with a thousand faces
and each man has his own. In time
he makes him look like him.
He becomes his child, his father and his judge alike.

Dust, dust, dust all over.
Air from the desert blows out to us
carrying unwashed dust
over the sea.

It travels like birds of passage
but doesn’t pass. Here it rests.
It travels like migratory birds
but doesn’t migrate. It lasts.

It comes today, yesterday, since forever
and sits upon the marble
and the mosaics. It covers colours,
penetrates, owns them.

For centuries now the desert
has been gathering inside us.
Now it would take a deluge
to wash us.

These lovely migratory birds
that travel with an astronaut’s wisdom
tracing Vs and straight lines
and other shapes harmonious in movement

these lovely migratory birds
the first to know the harmony
and unity of the world,
how time slides into the universe
and gives and takes life,

these lovely migratory birds
that come to drink water
and savour green grass,
they know how to bring as they arrive
some joy and some sorrow
to give as they depart
stressing the passage of time.

These lovely migratory birds
they move time and the seasons
they move the earth, grace life
and wake the persecuted hope.

These lovely migratory birds –
do not shoot them.

You might take the decision
to walk on the wrong track
or to join the wrong war
and even win a few of the day’s battles 
as you go about your way.

Of these victories of yours
you may boast
thinking you are moving forward,
ignoring that along a route of small gains
you lay the ground for the great
inescapable damage.

Yet, the most tragic of all is,
once you realize where you’re headed – 
bound by now to your choices –
to keep on cheering
for these micro victories 
that drive you closer and closer
to your great inescapable defeat. 

Translated by Despina Pirketti

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