dimitris allos

WHAT I LEFT BEHIND, A DAY AND A NIGHT

Memory a quicksand

incises and covets all my

sparrows all my nutrients

(every leap year this happens

when I’m left skin and bones)

*

The language in which I’m speaking to you

is the poem along with

its wastepaper basket

*

I stumble badly on stones

and empty cigarette packets

*

Going through

the same demolition – a methexis

(I wish it thus)– all those

almost maybe probably because

which years ago tumbled in a heap

so I could set foot victorious on the same poem

I am now setting foot onto the critical fifties

and what knowing I am lumbered with

the shoulders can ill bear

*

The whip of distance

strikes whomever is holding it

*

Learning from scratch

the steps of this road

(in shiny nickel in wireless) –

and here I am gawping at nature

ancient bold-headed forests country homes with no permit

greedy wrinkles – that is how you exist for

the time being around me – roadworks and others

for the public good at some point

[…]

entering out of curiosity

the abandoned shells

on the wrecked case

I read: don’t play roulette with my words

written in red crossed out in black–

and further down:

beware how you touch words

they hide incidents

*

A whole series

of abandoned poems

they might have been stations once

*

Dusks are the gums of the poor

(such switchblades its wings) –

I could see how they swirled

the sky an antimony grey

dampened the drinkable blood all round

(you could get a whiff of it)

I took my faded jacket off

(all these clothes and -finally- it served its purpose

this old thing with its hair on the inside)

I laid out beneath the worn sheet of asbestos

*

Only memory

stakes a claim on red

the amphibian learns

both from the wound

and the blood

*

for my Iana

I’ll pay you – I told him

with his losing side”

as I was trying to slip

through a needle hole

(my hands smelled of steel)

I awoke trembling Ah! I marvelled!

That is poetry in my life

and then I was covered in cold sweat AH!

that is my life in poetry

while clockwork tears thawed

splashingly by my feet

painting them bright red

then the seagulls would come

and it seemed they were winning

the dog would grab them

and it seemed he was winning

then other four-legged creatures grabbed them

these latter ones noisily

deafeningly they transformed

into just what they were devouring

The seagulls then envied the sky

The dog cried and then laughed

(filling emptying distributing)

The dog breathed

appraising

Rational Death

a beloved hand was shaking me forcefully

where are you going my love where are you going?

are you changing course in the dark?”

*

it dripped

that faucet

all night long

drip

drip

my dreams

a circle

my dreams

circles

concentric ones

night day

it dripped

that faucet

the same

drop

drip

the same drop always

drip

drip

*

Unmoving you admire the speed

all that horror overtaking

what time entrusted you with

*

Pulling the black fabric

a Japanese moon

took to talking non-stop

the nights’ eosinophils coagulated – the ones

called stars by those below –

a perfectly clear sign that ignorance

consoles distance

*

My candle was melting

in its ivory stand

melting and taking me down

straight to the Underworld

when suddenly the blasted thing went out

and I was left dangling

unfulfilled in the vertigo

of Koliatsou square

hopeless then

and teary

and full of entreaties

I ran over to the smallgoods store

of mister Mitsos – a namesake of mine –

a lined notebook said I

sniffling

and perched

on the high worn armchair

with my childhood shoes high up in the air

because I need at once

to inform you

as we’ve launched to the sound of a band

(and other musical accompaniments)

into the era of information technology —

that mister Mitsos’

apart from a smallgoods store

was also a shoeshine

*

I palpate the shape of my skull

out of curiosity

*

This road

with its many turns and bridges

(pink limestone washed up by barren memories)

I know it –said I – with that moon

that came out a little higher than sleepiness

and lends my flocks to the wolves

with its almond trees deferred in time

(if that’s how winter is meant to be) I know them –

I said – his secret footmarks and hideouts

crests rising

to a man’s full height – I know the places well

where the water’s cloyingly sweet and treacherous

and where it quells the thirst of rams and flying horses

and at all events it isn’t my nostalgia

but, rather, red which hides briefly

in the translation

*

I loved you

I hated you

I stand and pore over you

beautiful clandestine land

digesting me

deeper

The composition “What I left behind me a day and a night” was created specifically for the present edition. It contains texts written at different time periods from 1986 to today.

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