MARBLES

29 December 2015

ITHACA

My Translation of C.P. Cavafy's Poem Ίθάκη,
A Gift for G, a Modern Day Odysseus.


As you begin your voyage to Ithaka,
hope that the road is long,
filled with adventure, filled with enlightenment.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclopes,
the angry Poseidon, do not fear them;
you will never find them on your road
if your thoughts remain aloft, if your spirit and your body
brush against a finer emotion.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclopes,
the angry Poseidon, you won’t encounter them
if you don’t carry them inside your soul
if your psyche does not conjure them in front of you.

Hope that the road is long.
Many the summer mornings
when with pleasure and glad anticipation
you sail into unfamiliar harbors
or stop at Phoenician markets
to acquire beautiful things:
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
voluptuous notes of every type,
gather as many sensual aromas as you can;
may you visit many an Egyptian city,
there to learn and learn from scholars.

Always in your mind hold on to Ithaka.
The arrival there should be your purpose,
but don’t hurry your voyage in the least.
Best to continue it for many years,
and reach old age before mooring at the island,
wealthy with all you gained along the way,
and without expectation that Ithaka will give you riches.

Ithaka gave you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would not have sought to wander.
There’s nothing more she has to give.

And, if you find her poor, Ithaka did not deceive you.
With all the wisdom you have gained, all the experience,
already you understand the meaning of an Ithaka.



   Τhe Poem in the Original Greek


Ιθάκη

Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρείς,
αν μέν' η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωϊά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
να σταματήσεις σ' εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν' αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ' έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
σε πόλεις Αιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ' τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν' ο προορισμός σου.
Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξίδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
και γέρος πια ν' αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ' έδωσε το ωραίο ταξίδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Αλλο δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
Ετσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβ
ες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.


Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1911) 


23 July 2015

Hearth

Venus is brilliant in the evening sky

One, two, flying low to ground
June fireflies
Tomorrow will be very hot
The garden is mulched and watered
I have a garden
The rose bushes trimmed after their first flush
There was no mail I checked multiple times
I’ve been wearing my straw hat, it’s good protection.
From the sun.
Sometimes I forget I have it on 
I wear it late into the night

Half past midnight 

Going out to check on Venus 
Gone
Where are you?

It hurt, it hurt beyond hurt
One pain with multiple names

Eventually I lost control
I left them unmended

I drifted toward the shadows of life
The haunted corners 
Catalogues of arid days:
You’ll come back they said 
And I did

Sometimes vapour
Escaped from memory
To be distilled in dreams 
     
     He is smiling — I am happy
     The earth is freshly tilled
     Upturned land fragrant
     A cypress overlooks

At daylight, the vivid colours bleached

Now home is here
A hearth apart 

I exist
I abide


30 June 2015

GARDEN, MINE

I garden my remembrances
My roses are speared with thorns
My arms bruised,
My arms welcoming and soft.

A crescent cove, that crease where
Your smile breaks,
A wave unfolding tranquil to shore.

As I plant a bulb or mulch a thirsty root
The long ago casual glances—
No, that’s not true, write true.

Furtive is true, with longing, a sadness, regret
All those are true, never casual, never ordinary.

Always I search for it
In the topography of your face

To go back or reach forward
See you smile into crescent moonlight cove
Linger there for the softest kiss
Hear the sibilant calm wave
Temper the dissonance of time

Its unfolding into sand and silk, and your breath is close.

This if plausible, this wish if granted,

What enchanted flowers grow here.


06 June 2015

THE SACRIFICIAL

The goat was injured.

A winsome, all white
Or all black, smooth fur.
A head injury
A small swollen spot
Covering the sanguine rush

She died.

We got ready to bury her
Some bones were shattered
Not ours

Cuddling into it her death 
Soon she passed out of memory

It's more peaceful this way,
The goat telephoned to say.


05 June 2015

Synthesis

Hard

Under earth chambers
Stairs and carved stone
The sphinx waited — each morsel of soil brushed
Despite the unbearable heat hot heat
Descending surface seek
Even river water is boiling desire heat 
Lips lips melt want
That heat

However
The powerless sphinx with chiselled face and in awe
We kist in the sleeping room
I am resting my bones
Said the general, a real general, commander of
A lot

I don’t give a fuck
Vibrated the voice of infinity
Your names
Your silk and gold upon mattresses
The titles of a crowning halo
All fineries all spoils bishops and queen  
Checkmate (it always ends in checkmate)

The only rules that apply are mine
Plus permanent suffering
Everyone’s are gonna get brittle eventually
Deossification? Diagenesis? Dust?

I love the energy

Inconsequential
Subatomic
Infinitesimal
Dusting particles in my back yard

The weaklings think fear
The strong need weaker game

Electrifying

          It
          Has
          Been
          This
          Way
          And will continue to be.
          What change? 
          What change?
         
          Never change
          This is the way I love you

          It
          Has
          Been
          This
          Way
          And will continue to be.
          What change? 
          What change?

          Never a change

This is the way to Olympus

The tumulus curves like a wedding cake with a lion on top
Who swallowed the bride and groom
These things happen no need to be innocent about it why are you crying
Little girl old girl why are you crying
Below as beyond
Turbulence and chaos and a black hole

The buried virgins tall and amply carved turned into marble
The matriarch  was mortal after all
The general’s family was bludgeoned to death
The horse was cremated but its spirit lives on
The baby died: Megalocephaly

It was a beauty to behold 
For the noble and courageous grand style

I’ll remember you, promised us infinity
I will make sure you get a workout particle
By particle by particle by particle 
By particle by parti—
Parts in synthesis, you do you understand me?

It will be magnetic but without purpose
Purpose
Exists where gravity
Twisted
The shape of infinity moving through static 
                               
            There is no limit to infinite love no
            Boundaries to boundless patience
            There is no limit to infinite love

            That’s such a lovely song sing it again

            There is no limit to infinite love no
            Boundaries to boundless patience
            There is no limit to infinite love






07 May 2015

In Memory Of Robert Thompson

1: Night

One by one 
Lights flicker and snuff out
The city is shutting down

A street organ is playing
Spinning the music of long ago

Songs of desire and loss
Songs of betrayal
Wine-soaked singing

Molasses the sounds
Drifting in the jasmine scented night


2:  A Dream

Come to me shadow and starlight
Come for one unmeasured moment

I want

Flesh to flesh
Interlaced

Your stubbled salt cheek


 3:  Salonika

They were two  
And holding hands
Before, I had known them as one and one

The girl's hair yellow like ripened lemons
Fell in sharp angles around her face
Her man laughed a confident laugh

He enjoyed laughter

I understood
Too late Too close to twilight
After the ravages took hold
I took stock

We wandered leisurely on the promenade
Heading westward toward the tower

It was a prison once
Its captives, who were they?
Bruised souls with forgotten names
Their screaming silenced now

and ashes, ashes
returning southward to a home lost


ashes moving through space
dispersing over the beloved hills
over the familiar sea

she carried her numbers, bright blue


4: Time

We sailed into the small hours

The two-masted caique was brightly lit
Its crew calling for passengers
He was first on the gangplank
And it was a floating bar we walked into

No particular time chuckled the waitress
We close when we run out of customers

Heineken with a light misting of seawater 
He said
This drink has a pleasing taste,
Produced by hugging


Hugging?

The gunwale with one hand
A mug of beer with the other

We swung by our table for refills    
As the boat rocked
As the breeze picked up
Our careless chatter
The broken clock
We are sailing still



30 March 2015

STEEL BLUE

Mid-March returned with
Grey pearl sky of elsewhere
Summer
Familiar the opaque murky essence
Parceled into rectangles
Each pane the same melancholy hue

A solitary hawk
Frequent companion
Of my cloistered awakenings
Circled the oak
Lenses mapping
The barren view

The raptor decides:
A glide, a swerve
A clutch mangles
There is no camouflage for game

Beneath my bedclothes
Chill
Till dreams kindle remembrance

I gazed off the starboard bow
Amid the steel blue of depth and height
My vision burning umber
Again
The memory of an impermeable clasp
Again
Unmeasured brightness, unmeasured sorrow

The chaste huntress and the luscious cunt
Slay them
As I am spinning, spinning 
Spinning stained umber

I fall off into the roundness of the earth 

07 March 2015

a poem without verse

each wave at a standstill
petals lightly curved
an abundance of petals
blooming fruit
a poem without verse
glimmering,
evening glimmering
           
            dream of the vigorous delights

yield to the memory –
dewdrop,
how it nearly brushed across your lips
a fragrant sigh,
it was ephemeral
the pleasure, the caress

            of roses, of love 

21 February 2015

Plenty Of Stone

Stark and therefore more beautiful 
So beautiful that it calls out

Its striking plainness
The lack of verdant lushness

Low grasses and weeds
Clusters of thorned shrubbery
Sweetened dust and pungent myrrh

Soil is at a premium here

From shapeless rock
An amphitheatre was chiselled
To glorify important lawmakers perhaps
Or to appease a thunderous oracle

Such a long time ago it was
The rain owns it now
Veils of time cover it
Snow and wind and sunlight

Orators, spectators, their substance altered
Who were they?  But they were, once
As you and I were once

You called out to me 

I could have touched your heart 
But for the stone


13 February 2015

DIRTY LAUNDRY

“He’s dead,” she said.


“Yes, he died of cancer;
I heard about it.
Did you know him?”

“I knew of him, mostly.”       

He was not her sort
Therefore she tried to recall
All she could
This was intrigue to her

Three at the kitchen table 
In the cupboard across
The cherished wedding china displayed
Green scrollwork on white background
This visitor next to me
Had an air of elegance
But which elegance?
Trait or pretence?

She continued:
“Once in a while
I’d run into him at a coffee shop.”
 “What did you think of him?”
She narrowed her eyelids,
Thought,
Answered:

“He was somewhat of a rascal.
I considered him a reprobate
He cursed a lot, tough guy slang.”
“I don’t remember 
Cursing or slang,” I said.

“How could you remember? 
 You were so young!”
This from our hostess
As she poured coffee into porcelain cups
Green scrollwork on white background

“He had a mistress,
She was young,  
He bought her a car
They say he paid her rent, also.”

Our hostess poured cream offered sugar
“Sounds as though he kept her,” she said.
An old friend
She guessed why my curiosity

“What did his wife think?”
I asked.
“Nothing to think. She put up with it.”

“What happened to the girls?”

I always worried about those
Two daughters of his
Worried for their safety
They took the entrance exams
The son of a bitch
Wanted them to attend
My school

Did he still carry a knife?
I didn’t ask

I was happy to hear
What the visitor said
Even with limited information
I felt avenged 
It showed, his nature
He was a
Slick
Crafty
Knave

It’s been almost half a century
Have I lived that long?

When I think of
Those late afternoons
During childhood
His presence hovering 
My state of confusion 
Hands smothering panic

I start to believe
I’ve lived long enough

Hang it up, hang it up
Filthy shard of an old
China cup
Spectral memories
Coil in the background
Hang it up they hiss

The three of us had coffee
Hot, strong
Late June
Late afternoon
The cool Sunday breeze
Inviting after
Saturday’s wedding
And we guests tired
From the night before

I live in the margins of life 
Those nightmares
What did I survive them for?