Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alexander Meets Diogenes

gone to the dogs all right
and cynical a cur as any he knew
this purebred jackanapes blocking his sun
light would soon find his ass jumping
through hoops clearly over a barrel.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hammering out a Definition of "Queer Voice"

--for Kenny Goldsmith

Don't throw a fit, egghead
If the hammer doesn’t fit,

Take everything down
And fit it all on the head

Of a roiling pinhead.

(My thanks to Joseph Hutchison for providing the initial impetus here.)


This scythe that cuts
Its swath through space

Of unremitting air, see it
Does not stop its wishing

To hesitate there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


to where road leads to
cemetery’s edging

marble moon littered full
circled threshing floor.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn of a Lepidopterist

On edge

Of buckling, weathered
Red-tiled roof,

Orange-brown and black
Veined monarch trembling,

Like a leaf.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Me? So naive

I remember it hurt me
so like I was

so stupid, heard it out-

you, too?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Negative Capability

"That they are there!"
--George Oppen, from Psalm

Whatever we think he meant by what he said

In passing, one thing is certain:

He never meant a world
In this in which

Nightingales had never spoken.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tiny Tortoise vs Silver Knight

Tiny Tortoise was found on its back close to death near the formidable walls of Ancient Messene last Sunday afternoon. I had stopped for "nature call" (#1) and while doing so, I spied what looked like a
curious-looking, green-and-white checkered pebble to my left. Upon picking it up, I saw that it was a miniscule tortoise that seemed lifeless but I just couldn't tell. Remembering something I had read in one of Kazantzakis' books, I decided to find out. Quickly cupping it in my hands, I started to warm it with my breath; soon its little legs were moving and its head slowly emerging from its shell. I put it in the trunk of the car and took it to Meligalas, where it is now free to roam our spacious, weed-infested garden to eat whatever its little heart desires. Knowing that I might never see Tiny again, I first put him/her next to Silver Knight (all of 10cm tall) and took this picture to remind me how brave this spunky little critter really is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Getting One's Bearings Back

Bearing north near
The river, hard

Not to be hit
Hard by the joy

On hearing the waters
Rush by,

Heading south.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


relieve years of previous notions of light thought

lost but still motioning under rippling surface.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting over Being under the Weather

Housebound no longer
After break in bad weather,

Plant yourself under a branch
Heavy with rain, wait

Till songbird comes to
Lighten it, leaving you

Feeling fresh all over again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the Road in Hellas, Icons Come and Go Fast!

Marking the spot of a motoring accident, road icons continue to be found in ever-increasing numbers all over the highways and roads of Greece, but most of them at dangerous points where either the driving conditions and/or the recklessness of drivers have been responsible; if the victim is fortunate enough to survive, he/she thanks their lucky stars, i.e. God, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, by promptly planting one at the scene to commemorate the occasion. If the accident is fatal, relatives of the deceased take on the responsibility of the upkeep, also making sure to light the icon’s candle as often as they can. Not very often it seems, as the great majority of these sobering, seemingly inexhaustible little reminders of man’s motoring carelessness during his brief sojourn on Earth are falling apart from neglect—notice the missing fourth leg of this one.

NB: Photograph taken about ten years ago. Sadly, this crippled road icon is no longer standing, having long since fallen by the wayside—a victim of someone’s carelessness or of the passage of time. Sic transit gloria mundi? Of course, but in Greece you can be sure there’s always another one up around the bend.

NBB: I still come across people who ask me why I have never put a road icon up on the Mavrozoumena Bridge!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Year

--for Eleni

Intoxicated, we were

Drinking the sun dry
My love years before

The barrels were full,
The wine mature—

Not one drop left of the light,
To be sure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hellenic Hits: Volume 2

Recently received: Hellenic Hits, Volume Two: Classic Greek Love Songs 1920s-1940s, from The Zambaras Family Record Collection (cd included) $20.

If I remember correctly, Eleni and I first met the musician Tom (Diz) Carroll in Tacoma, Washington in the summer of 1993; at that time he had just finished a stint as an elementary school music teacher in the University Place School District and was also an acquaintance of my brother Chris’s wife Kalitsa, who was working as a cook in the school’s cafeteria. He was and still is an avid fan and proponent of traditional music from the Balkans, especially of demotic and rebetika songs from Greece, so when we first met, we had a lot in common to talk about. My brother was the custodian of our family’s collection of vintage 78 rpm records which were stored in the attic of his house; unfortunately, quite a few of these rare discs (recorded in the US circa 1905-1940) never lived long enough to be preserved on celluloid, having been discovered and turned into flying saucers by my nephew in his high-spirited youth. The ones that had survived the blitzkrieg were lovingly recorded on twelve 90-minute tapes by Diz and given to Eleni and me as a present. After returning to Greece, we started a correspondence with Diz and since then, he has tried to visit us every two years—usually around Easter—which is The Time to visit Greece! After having re-mastered all the tapes onto 12 CDs and giving us two copies of each, he suggested we collaborate with him and produce a series of songbooks based on our family’s collection; the first volume, Hellenic Hits: Songs of Exile, came out in 2007. More information on these songbooks and on Diz’s group, The Makedonians, can be found here—ohpa, manges!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


--for William Michaelian, again

Startling but not
Really alien, as in

Earthlings reaching,
Lifting them-

Selves up and out
Of the blue.

(This came up after reading William Michaelian's poem here.)

Monday, October 12, 2009


The light goes without leaving

An inkling of where it has been,
Or where it is going,
Or of the darkling

Nest within.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Turning Point

Pinpointing the knife

Turning point-blank over

An unfulfilled bed

Full of wishful thinking, thinking
The ceiling’s all ready

Gone red.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On the Brink

He finds himself thinking:

One goes forward only when
Reversal brings him back again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's All Greek to Me, or My First and Only PoBiz Business Card

After having returned to Greece in 1973, one of the first things I did was get in touch with Kimon Friar, the foremost translator of modern Greek poetry into English. Madrona had previously published a number of his translations in issue number 6, and I also had a letter of introduction to him from his old friend, Leonie Adams, who'd taught one of my poetry classes at the University of Washington. At that time, I entertained ideas of perhaps devoting much of my creative energy and time to translating Greek poets into English and I needed some guidance on how to go about meeting these poets. I remember Kimon's kindness and interest during this first meeting in his flat at the foot of Lycabettus and his willingness to put me in touch with those poets he thought should be translated; I also remember his suggestion that I get a business card--I think he said something to the effect that everyone who is anybody over here has one! Though I never did much translation, I came upon a small printer's shop tucked away in a narrow street in the Exarchia district on one of my many walks through downtown Athens and promptly ordered two hundred business cards; this is one of the twenty or so left; this was also the printer who eventually produced 300 letterpress copies of Sentences in 1976.

Monday, October 5, 2009


The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne,

the snail leaves

a never re-

trail of silver
over the earth’s


Friday, October 2, 2009

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Worm digging

Your way in
To the mind’s eye
In earnest—

No hemming,
No hawing,
Till death—

Do us asunder.

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