Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baudelaire for Dummies

Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!

Fooled by this hapless effort
Passing itself off as a poem?

A wretch like you wrote it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Suspension of Disbelief

As long as the clouds remain

Suspended, one must have
A mind—not that kind—
Of a lunatic, not to think

The moon is unmoving,
And be moved in turn
By the mind that does.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Well, here’s to that

Spunky little green stink
Bug that just upped

And clinked down dead on my laptop,
Kayoed by the treacherous light,

With me in blind pursuit
Of one more sweet-smelling,

Charming moving deathless line—
Oh dear lifeless little bugger, thanks

For taking the time,
For stopping me short

But not quite smack in time,
Sorry for this too,

Too precious rhyme.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom

Here by the water’s edge,
Listening to what the sea brings,

I know deep down
Even a grain of sand sings

Wondrous things.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


In that instant inflammatory

One thought keeps
Burning through

The darkness, nothing
To be left behind.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Recent Links [Updated 11.30 pm]

Recently Linked—Definitely Not Lemmings #16: It's a pleasure to welcome Noxalio as a new follower of Vazambam—follow the links to these two interesting blogs:
Noxalio and noxpix.

[11.30 update, Definitely Not Lemmings #17: Aleksandra joins us from Holland; she is an artist and has two blogs, one here and another here. Thank you, Aleksandra!]

My thanks to William Michaelian for dedicating his drawing titled A Man Named Nobody to yours truly.

And lest I forget, thanks to Conrad DiDiodato who graciously added Vazambam to his blog list!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wake-up Call

A blind man sang this song.


In my mind’s eye, I saw
A man named Nobody
Drive a red-hot stake of green
Olive-wood into the single
Drunken, bloodshot eye
Of a sleeping giant,
Twisting it until it hissed,
And the giant’s eye shot out
Blood and clearly saw
No longer.


Aye, my wandering companions,
The mind’s eye is in deed
A wondrous place,
But not for sleeping,
Stuporous giants.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quiddity, As in Kraken

A super-duper

Squid up from the depths
Is what the
id could be

Should the tentacles
Of the ego

Let it go.

Friday, February 19, 2010

End of the Line

No more mystery here—
No more train

Down these tracks
No more

Loud and clear.

(Not quite the end after all, passengers; last line added ten hours later at 10.00 AM Friday, February 19, 2010.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It's a good idea to write a poem about the first of May
in November or December,
when you feel a desperate need for May.

--Vladimir Mayakovsky, from How Are Verses Made?

I fly from the present by two routes, that of the past
and that of the future.

--Lamennais, Correspondence, II, 378.

Which is to say






Recently Linked: My thanks to an old, good friend and wonderful poet, Bob Arnold, for providing a link to my blog at A Longhouse Birdhouse
. Always something to read here, all of it worthwhile and, if I may say so, nothing for the birds!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Playing it


Full of woe,
Full of rue,

Full of row
Upon row

Of sallow faces
Facing the music,

Playing it dreadfully,
Playing it dreadfully


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flower, Children

Senescent, almost out of sight,

Nothing’s left on the horizon but one

Thin mauve ribbon tied to the dying light.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

With Face to the Wall: Selected Poems of Miltos Sahtouris

With Face to the Wall: Selected Poems of Miltos Sahtouris, Translation and Introduction by Kimon Friar, Washington, The Charioteer Press, 1968, (40pp, First Edition, 300 copies, sadly out of print for eons). Another book I have no recollection of buying, but the frontispiece does have a telltale $1.50 penciled in up in the right-hand corner, so I must have bought it somewhere, but where? Ah, yes, now I remember and can see a hand writing something slowly on a faraway wall. . . . . . . . .

”From this private country, Sahtouris sends us the image-laden and blood-spattered reports of an explorer from what seems at first to be another planet. At times they read like the reports of a missionary, a doctor, a diagnostician, an astronaut, a saviour, and at times like the cryptic declarations of a Cumaean Sybil, the mad but prophetic utterances of a Cassandra. It is from all these, arranged in chronological order, that I have chosen, icon after icon, the strange, obsessed, neurotic, yet nostalgic poems of Miltos Sahtouris, which, we begin to realize, reflect our own world like underwater traceries of our most familiar objects: The Forgotten Woman, 1945; Ballads, 1948; With Face to the Wall; 1952; When I Speak to You, 1956; The Phantoms or Joy in the Other Street, 1958; The Stroll, 1960; The Stigmata, 1962, The Seal or The Eighth Moon, 1964.

Perhaps the title of his third book best describes the stance and perspective that Miltos Sahtouris has taken: With Face to the Wall. His rigidity in that position is suggestive of many causes and many effects. It is that of a small child who has been placed in a corner facing a wall by parent or teacher. He stands there, not quite understanding why he is being punished, but beginning to feel, as time lapses into time, that he must indeed have been guilty of some great sin, some unspeakable crime. The only recourse of the child is to shut his eyes tight and fly off into a world of his own fantastic compensation. It is also a position taken on his own volition by a man in early youth who deliberately turns his back on the world that he may gaze into it more piercingly. The wall on which he now stares with a third, inner eye, is that which separates lover from lover, husband from wife, friend from friend, nation from nation, no matter of what material it is composed: iron, bamboo, silk, stone, invisible glass, or yielding air. It is at once barrier and barricade, stronghold and iron cage, prison and asylum wall. It is the Wailing Wall where every minority group—and whose numbers are more depleted than those of the true poets?—bewails its fate and thus the fate of all individuals and of all nations. And it is finally that
wall in Greece during the German-Italian Occupation of the early 1940s against which—as against all similar walls throughout the world—men, women, and children, poets among them (as in Spain), were ruthlessly propped up as hostages and shot down by rifle and machinegun fire. It is a nightmare world of Hitler and Hiroshima that makes the distorted and dislocated images of Sahtouris seem but pale depictions of actual events. He belongs to the postwar generation of poets who had seen the whitewashed walls of Greece suddenly splattered red, and all his poetry has been colored by this terror. . . one word colors all of his poetry: blood.

It would be correct to say that Sahtouris did not at first choose of his own free will to stand with his face to the wall. Like most of us during the past two generations, he was placed there first by parent, priest, or teacher for punishment, or out of original sin, then by the enemy, and finally by some Kafkaesque tribunal of the universe, unknown and mysterious. It was only later that he recognized his personal wounds as the stigmata of the entire world’s guilt. Like Maria, in the poem by that name, when everybody began to speak through him unbearably, as through a medium, he took refuge by beginning to fly in imagination round and round a room that was both prison and escape, for, as he writes in ‘The Saviour,’ ‘every room is an open wound.’ . . .In his early verses, image follows image without logical intent, as in the naturally surrealist world of childhood, evoking, in their totality, worlds of alienation, agony, lost innocence, love betrayed, fear, anxiety, guilt. It would be futile in many of these poems, and in the whole of Sahtouris’ work, to attempt any thoroughly logical deduction or sequential exegesis. ‘My poetry is many things which elude me,’ he once told me [Friar], ‘and which I do not understand. And if I did understand, I would not wish to reveal it.’ . . . His belief is that poetry, no matter how shattering, may transform tragedy by shaping it into the ordered beauty of image and cadence. He sprinkles ugliness with beauty, casts a shadow spray of colors among his gaping images, wants every spring to be judged by its own gladness, nails us to the pavement that we may admire the celestial advertisements, transforms mundane reality into cinematic art that defies death until one day, he declares, we may ‘pass through the black burning hole of the sun’”. [from Friar’s indispensible, probing, eye-opening, excellent Introduction]

Celebrated in many countries around the globe (the US not included) as one of the previous century’s outstanding poets, Miltos Sahtouris was born in Athens in 1919 and died there in 2005. Living in a world all his own, a world of inner consistency, he never traveled beyond the boundaries of Greece; in fact, he rarely left his Athens neighborhood, restricting his contacts with the world outside his small apartment in the suburb of Kypseli to a small circle of friends. Slow in being accepted by older, more conservative readers, primarily because his work was not adequately appreciated by the generation of poets preceding him, he nevertheless continues to be read avidly by a younger generation of Greeks. Readers of this blog who wish to read more of his work in English translation are kindly redirected to this
link which is a 52-page PDF document containing some of his finest poems.



My friends are leaving

they have come to say goodbye

I shall never see my friends again

one of them is leaving for the adjacent room

his face turned black

he wore a dark green material

night has fallen

he no longer speaks

the other is leaving for the other room

to find pins

first however he hid himself behind the curtains

he became frightened

afterwards he climbed on the window

to sleep

the other took off his shoes

with trembling hands

he took them to warm

the statue

he took it into the bedroom

he does not know how to make it stand upright

my friends have gone far away

I shall not see my friends



On the table they had placed upright

a head of clay

they had decorated their walls

with flowers

on the bed they had cut out of paper

two erotic bodies

on the floor snakes scurried

and butterflies

a huge dog kept guard

in the corner

Strings stretched across the room

from all sides

it would be imprudent for anyone

to pull them

one of the strings pushed the bodies

to make love

The unhappiness outside

clawed the doors


Maria was pensively

taking off her stockings

Out of her body

voices rose of other human beings

that of a soldier who spoke like a bird

that of a sick man who had died from sheep pains

and the weeping of a small niece of Maria’s

who in these past few days had just been born

Maria wept and wept

now Maria laughed

at night she spread out her hands

with her legs wide open

Afterwards her eyes darkened

black black opaque they darkened

The radio played

Maria wept

Maria wept

The radio played

Then Maria

slowly slowly opened her arms

and began to fly

round and round the room



in a pharmacy

a kneeling


the floorboards

a girl
with a strange



is being healed

while the ghost

in despair


in the corner


In memory of Guillaume Apollinaire

In my sleep it is always raining

my dreams fill with mud

there is a dark landscape
and I am waiting for a train
the stationmaster gathers daisies

which have sprouted amid the rails

because no train has come

to this station for a long time

and the years have suddenly passed

I sit behind a windowpane

my hair and beard have grown long

as though I were very ill

and as sleep once more takes me

she comes slowly slowly

she holds a knife in her hands
she approaches me carefully
and plunges the knife in my right eye

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Sunday

Fleeting landscape art on a mountain in Arcadia, one sunny Sunday, early spring, 2003: My wife and I are posing over a poem composed of pebbles placed on a “quilt” of slowly melting snow somewhere near the spot where—according to Robert Graves by way of Polybius and Pausanias—Zeus was born, namely Mt. Lykaion (alt 1420m), “where no creature casts a shadow,” at the confluence of the states of Ilia, Arcadia and Messinia and a scant few kilometers from the source of the Neda River, where the newborn god was bathed by his mother, Rhea. Though it was frozen in time by the photographer’s art, “Snow Quilts” melted within a half hour after this photograph was taken, and thus deservedly remains to this day (a rainy one, by the way) my shortest, most evanescent poem.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wind Chimes

Lemon tree in flower—

Watching the wind till
We cannot bear not

To hear it bring it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I thought I’d seen it all before

That spring day that spirited, frisky
Kid frolicked into school on all fours,

Gamboling through the halls
Of knowledge, all hell breaking loose

Before the dumbstruck pupils
And their all-seeing teacher finally

Got smart, chased the demon away.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hard Times All Around, Poets

What the dickens—

Rotting but not quite
In cold hell, nor in thicket,
Burnt-out magpies scavenging
Black chimney smudges

On ashen-tiled rooftops.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cross My Heart, Hope to Die

I cannot tell a lie; this photograph taken a few years back is proof of what getting down to earth in my neck of the woods will look like in no time at all--what a place to lie down in!
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