Saturday, January 30, 2010

Primeval Evasive Action in the Asphalt Jungle

mind you

(like this lone black cat stealing through dark
culvert under low bridge
under construction
regarding man as clear and present danger

freezes momentarily before turning)

maneuvering way back

Friday, January 29, 2010


Our hamlet’s unending conundrum:

If the quest to find one’s self is nothing
But tedious, bothersome, humdrum—

As some infinite jesters would have us believe—
Why does one find himself coming back

Ad infinitum?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


—for Eleni, who saw it all from the start

If I still call my wife

After all these years,
It’s not

Because she’s foretold what will happen
Tomorrow, the next day, week, month or year—

We all know no one can do that, right?

But because when I see the incredible
Light in her eyes as she tells me

Dream after dream, I still can’t
Believe how it was

I foresaw my future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

After Porchia, All Over Again

All things happen in an instant—
Even when nothing seems to happen

Over a thousand instances,
It’s over

In no time at all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting the Picture

How dark

Unseen forces behind that will
Color it accordingly

To how many lies remain
Exposed to the light.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Test of Poetry: Charles Bernstein's Artifice of Absorption vs Davy Jones' Liquid Assets

Whatever the drift may have been,

I always say I am a professor of poetry, I profess poetry; think of me as a snake-oil salesman, a confidence man: I don’t want to test your accumulated knowledge; I want to convince you of the value of poetry as a method, as a way of writing, as a form of vision. . . . .

By the time it took us to absorb it,

. . . . .poetry is the ultimate small business, requiring a careful keeping of accounts to stay afloat.

We’d already been taken in.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knee-high to a Grasshopper

Jiminy Cricket! That was me
When my legs were heading
Into the final stretch.

Never figured out why
They had to up and stop
Dead in their tracks

Soon as they came to
The nearest knee patch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Raiding the Cookie Jar

You gotta hand it to him—
The dude never lost his cool

Wondering how it was this hot
Momma kept popping

Pan after pan in her oven
So that poppa could also

Put his hand in whenever
He moseyed on back.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tzivaeri (Jewel)

Τζιβαέρι (Traditional Greek song of immigration) Please scroll down for English translation and accompanying video.

Αχ! Η ξενιτειά το χαίρεται
Τζιβαέρι μου
Το μοσχολούλουδο μου
σιγανά και ταπεινά

Αχ! Εγώ ήμουνα που το ‘στειλα
Τζιβαέρι μου
Με θέλημα δικό μου
σιγανά πατώ στη γη

Αχ! Πανάθεμά σε ξενιτειά
Τζιβαέρι μου
Εσέ και το καλό σου
σιγανά και ταπεινά

Αχ! Που πήρες το παιδάκι μου
Τζιβαέρι μου
και το ‘κανες δικό σου
σιγανά πατώ στη γη

English translation

Tzivaeri (Jewel)

Ah! Foreign lands delight in her
My Tzivaeri
My beautiful, sweet-smelling flower
Softly and humbly

Ah! I was the one who sent her there
My Tzivaeri
As I wished it so
Softly do I walk upon on the earth

Ah! Damn you, foreign lands
My Tzivaeri
You and your goodness too
Softly and humbly

Ah! That you took my little child
My Tzivaeri
And made her yours
Softly do I walk upon the earth

(rush translation by Vazambam)

Probably the most popular (and perhaps the most poignant) traditional Greek song dealing with the theme of immigration; in this impromptu video recorded during a rehearsal last summer in Tacoma, Washington, our daughter Efiniki is accompanied by The Makedonians.

Tzivaeri--a surprise, name day gift post for our spirited jewel of a daughter, who celebrates her name(s) twice a year—one on January 20th as Efi=Efthimia and the other on December 6th as Niki=Nicholas—what a winning combination! My thanks to the unknown artist who recorded the video but who unfortunately captured my tzivaeri singing only the last two stanzas. No matter. For someone so far away from a loved one, this video is definitely sweet, poignant music.

Afterword: For those in the vicinity of Tacoma, you can hear The Makedonians and Efiniki this coming Saturday, January 23, here. Check it out and don't forget to shout "Ohpa, manges!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Oh pray

Let us wallow like pigs in the mire
Of our sweet madness, unsatiated

In our desire, our eyes feasting on
The sanity of a world gone sour.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aeolian Mode

O spirit behind the proscenium,
What manner of being first heard
The imperceptible

Rustling of reeds before
The curtain motioned,
Calling the woodwinds back?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Slings of Outrageous Fortune

The Lawless Years: Urchins on their home turf, armed to the teeth and dressed to kill, First Street, Raymond, Washington, 1949.

From left to right, Billy (Squint-eyed Kid) Zambaras, 6 years old, flaunting his intimidating, fearsome mien in the face of the blinding, winter light; Christos (Ladybird Killer) Zambaras, 11, notorious for disarming birds by flipping them the peace sign with his right hand just before slinging the fatal shot at them with his left; Angie (Turkey-Diddle-I-Them) Buttrick, 13, lanky lobber whose favorite targets were the rear ends of drunk loggers, truckers and longshoremen staggering out of his grandma’s saloon.

As mentioned by Hoyle in his groundbreaking study, The Evolution of Slingshots in the United States and Their Role in Intimidating Stoolpigeons while Keeping a Poker Face, these three
infamous Greek-American punks were the forerunners of inner city gangs that later terrorized urban America, as they were the first to successfully employ the now-classic dictum adopted by so many zealous professionals from all walks of life: “Never Get Caught Playing According to the Rules,” or its better-known, more overwhelming, poetical manifestation favored by so many of our back-watching, self-righteous politicians, to wit “Ex-Lax Slanderer":

Sling shit
Sling shat

Sling ass
Whole shot.

NB: These tatterdemalions were also among the first to introduce hodgepodge raiment, which became so popular in the latter half of the previous century--notice the chaotic, albeit exquisite juxtaposition of haberdashery covering Squint-eyed Kid's frame--not to mention the patent rubber galoshes perfect for sloshing through muddy puddles just before heading back home to headquarters.

: Unfortunately, the only gang member still living is The Squint-eyed Kid, who
had the good fortune at the tender age of 27 to escape from Life in the Clutches of America. He is now happily married living the Life of Riley in his beloved Hellas and still thinking seriously of writing his poetic Magnum Opus, "I Was a Gunsel Who Killed Mockingbirds for the Thrill of It."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rimbaud Redux

Taking off

On Verlaine’s cherubim, an angelic gun-
Running rum-soaked poet popping
Double doses of spiked Double Bubble gum.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bestiality in the Bestiary

Oh, my God!

Daemons fornicating with all manner
Of lowly beasts and almighty Zeus

On top of it all!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

George Oppen and Anastasios G. Zambaras

Two of my favorite faces in silent conversation.

I took my father’s picture in 1969, the same year George Oppen won the Pulitzer; each time I pick up this ancient, dog-eared copy of his Collected Poems, I am struck by how much he resembles my father and vice-versa. I also find myself wondering if this resemblance had anything to do with my first being attracted to Oppen’s poetry when I was a grad student at the University of Washington in the early 70s. Whatever the reason, I consider myself fortunate for having had these two mentors as beacons that helped me find my way in a world notorious for making people feel lost.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Poems should be succulent
Endless rows

Of oranges arching over
Parched country roads.

Friday, January 8, 2010


“No ideas but in things”
--William Carlos Williams, MD

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Still having trouble digesting
The good doc’s dictum?
Picture yourself eating a Lotus fruit.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

All done? Good. Now imagine all
The things you’ve tasted,
And never thought of again.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Lion's Tail and Eyes

Recently rediscovered and enriched: The Lion’s Tail and Eyes, Poems written out of laziness and silence, by James Wright, William Duffy, and Robert Bly, The Sixties Press, 1962. With a subtitle like that who could resist such a book? Purchased at A Different Drummer Bookstore on Broadway, Seattle, Washington when I was a grad student at the UW (1970-72), this slim (45pp) volume was a real find even back then—and a real bargain ($1)!*

From Bly’s introductory note:

“One purpose of poetry is to forget about what you know, and think about what you don’t know. There is an old idea that only by leaving the body can a man think. Such a leaving concerns the body of knowledge as well as the physical body. After all, as Montale says, if the purpose of poetry lay in making oneself understood, there would be no purpose in writing it.”…….

“The fundamental world of poetry… the inward world. The poem expresses what we are just beginning to think, thoughts we have not yet thought. The poem must catch these thoughts alive, holding them in language that is also alive, flexible and animal-alike as they.

The poem with images is therefore like a lion about to come into existence. A person meets the poem among trees at night. On the path in front of him, he sees a lion who does not know he is there. The lion is changing from his old ancient substance back into a visible body. So far the tip of the tail, the ears, the eyes, and perhaps a paw or two have come.”

This great little volume begins with one of James Wright’s best-known poems, “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”:

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,

Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.

Down the ravine behind the empty house,

The cowbells follow one another

Into the distances of the afternoon.

To my right,

In a field of sunlight, between two pines,

The droppings of last year’s horses

Blaze up into golden stones.

I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.

A chicken-hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

*Being naturally curious, I checked to see what this book is currently selling for: $100+, so it was a real bargain after all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

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