dimanche 27 septembre 2015

Hélas Hellas

Sky or water
it doesn't much matter
I was falling I was flying
with a stone around my neck
drowning in illness
We could say you reached down
and pulled me out
it wouldn't be an overstatement
You were not Calypso
and I was not Odysseus
though when I consider
everything we went through
the analogy is fitting
I rested with you
on that volcanic island
erupting in the middle of Europa
and I was grateful
As the sweet centenarian habits
of high fat, early sleep and sex
became a fascist doctrine
I found myself floundering again
feeling controlled and angry
in the face of your volcano project
I was no longer buying it
and my mind wandered home
to the doorsteps of my children
because those deep umbral cords
and the lyric flow of breast milk
keep us united in an eternal drama
Even if I could see into the future
as you would later bless
and curse me with
the rejection complete and total
of sons for their mother
I still longed to return
and every morning
I ran through the streets of Lamia
heart beating madly
with fire and sweat
and nothing could help me
not warm Greek bread
not antique beauty
Sweet Calypso
I had to leave
mais j'ai fait un beau voyage
and even if you are correct that
the earth is rapidly cooling
as we pass through
galactic cloud matter
and the increased celestial electricity
is raising the magma flows
in their underwater chambers
sparking discontent
among the nations
I would rather die
than never write poetry
again by lamplight
and I will die
that is what you
do not understand, being a god
I am a woman
tied to Ithaca
and I am mortal.

I know I promised
to marry you, Apollo
but I did not foresee
how punishing you would become
when I broke my pledge
and left you to languish
on a smoldering Olympus
in the volcanic winter
of your snowball heart
I was a lovestruck silly girl
who thought she could see
into the future and you said
Go ahead, Cassandra
I have a roadmap”
I looked and looked
but didn't see it
or maybe I looked
and couldn't do it
(spoiled Ameriki)
or maybe I saw how
cold Greece would become
in the immediate future
and democrat and Jew that I am
I couldn't handle your antisemitism
your hatred of all Muslims
and even those barbaric Christians
though you pretend to be Orthodox
If anything Greece was lost
to those black-cloaked priests
who are paid by the state
and thus subjugate and are subjugated
Strange country:
You blame the Ottomans
and I don't blame you a wit
but someday you guys
have to get over it or
start making your own clothing
Everywhere everywhere
the labels scream
Made in Turkey”
Made in Germany”
Let the wealthy of Greece
rise up and invest
in their countrymen!
Throw off the bureaucratic
shackles of church and state!
Don't believe me?
Well there's the rub
for me to see the horrors
and no one to believe what I tell them
just as I didn't believe you
your narrow road
your climate litanies
or your love
It's fast karma or some such
Hindu nonsense
more blasphemy
more cannibalism
more 21st-century anarchy
We both see the frozen future
and no one hears us.

I was a tree
frozen in bark
neglected, celibate
roots of sadness so deep
the sky's tears
could not reach them
Apollo chased and ravaged me
and I became a woman
named Daphne
I blossomed with
sea pine in the fall
orange blossom in the spring
swooning under my
own salted perfume
I climbed hills
I sought beauty
I read until my eyes
grew red and bleary
Every cell vivant
my skin bronzed
my heart charged
with a lightning rod
For a brief moment
it made me young
and the world became turquoise
water, light and sulphur
burnt fields
paradisiacal mountains
endless groves of olive
and the language that entered
my ears was music
and I tried hard to learn it
but it was never enough
Oh make me a tree again
Oh make me a statue
now that Apollo has gone
and taken with him
his words of love
Life is complicated
and then it is not
and then it breaks apart
into a new composite.

Photo: Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan

mercredi 9 septembre 2015


A long sigh of exhaustion
after a lifetime of love
and of things resembling love
I wasn't perfect
I committed myself when
commitment was clearly wrong
and I withdrew myself
when I felt threatened
I married and married
like a mail-order bride
without a dowry
and I was passed around
like a dollar bill
until I felt used and dirty
I woke up in a foreign country
with another ring upon my finger
and nothing inside
to claim as my own
so I started on this
vowing to study myself
for as long as it took
to  reclaim my honor
to love myself
and become an honest person
Every day requires courage
to look into that mirror
admit my transgressions
then fix them
My addiction to relationships
sends out little hooks
to catch fish
and then I realize
I don't want them
and take the barbs out
of my own skin
I'm on sabbatical
I remind myself
I'm not lonely
only growing
millimeter by millimeter
It doesn't matter
As long as it takes
as high as it goes
as deep as the ocean is
the love in my own soul

vendredi 28 août 2015

Roxy Music - A Song for Europe

A Song For Europe (1973) - Ferry/Mackay

Here as I sit
At this empty cafe
Thinking of you
I remember
All those moments
Lost in wonder
That we'll never
Find again
Though the world
Is my oyster
It's only a shell
Full of memories
And here by the Seine
Notre-Dame casts
A long lonely shadow
Now - only sorrow
No tomorrow
There's no today for us
Nothing is there
For us to share
But yesterday
These cities may change
But there always remains
My obsession
Through silken waters
My gondola glides
And the bridge - it sighs ...
I remember
All those moments
Lost in wonder
That we'll never
Find again
There's no more time for us
Nothing is there
For us to share
But yesterdays
Ecce momenta
Illa mirabilia
Quae captabit
In aeternum
Modo dolores
Sunt in dies
Non est reliquum
Vero tantum
Tous ces moments
Perdus dans l`enchantement
Qui ne reviendront
Pas d'aujourd'hui pour nous
Pour nous il n'y a rien
A partager
Sauf le passé 

vendredi 21 août 2015

Happy birthday, Miki Theodorakis!

Mikis Theodorakis turned 90 on July 29th, 2015. Hronia pola, maître et patriote! This is a painting by Efthymio Warlamis, one of 130 paintings from the life of Mikis Theodorakis I saw in Lamia, Greece, in 2012.

A beautiful song from a poem by Odysseas Elytis, music by Theodorakis. The video, with English subtitles, uses clips and images from the film "Iphigenia" by Michalis Cacoyiannis.

mercredi 19 août 2015

Adieu, adieu

Separation, Munch, 1896

Adieu αγάπη μου
Νάσαι καλά mon amour
Je te souhaite un bon succès
un autre amour et de la paix
Peut-être un jour il y aura pardon
car nous n'étions que d'enfants
dans un chateau de sable
et ça fond n'est-ce pas?
Mais nous voilà
nous allons vivre

mercredi 22 juillet 2015


"For the Lamed-waf are the hearts of the world multiplied, and into them, as into one receptacle, pour all our griefs.” — from Le dernier des justes by Andre Schwarz-Bart

I am Lamed-vov
the last of the just
and I'll tear my hair out
before I'm done
if God will permit me
and of this indeed
nothing is less certain
for I must stand
and bear it all 
as recompense for
what I've done and
what came before
when I was nary a thought
a dove on an olive branch
that traversed the great
Mediterranean cradle
and its salt-encrusted air
clung to my skin
and made it brittle

The ultimate rejection
by everyone I loved
is not a simple fruit
to carry in one's womb
but a heavy pit
of infinite sadness
every bit as unbearable
as Mary's grief
or any mother who
lost her child to death
or misfortune
or rejection
choose your poison
or an unjust God will
choose it for you
and then you will
cleave to him because
he is all you have left
abandoned in the middle
of the great forest

Your little clay hut
molded by your hands
out of water and mud
a tepid oil lamp burning
on the hearthstone
beads running through
your fingers upon which
you count the names of
everyone you've loved
the dearly departed
the vagabonds
and the children
alive and buried
and each one a blessing 

Thamar - Hans Collaert


jeudi 16 juillet 2015


Enough they said
from their twaddle of
beaming off the
one cup then two
like a china collection
her skin
the motives
the incongruities like
mustard and berry
it doesn't matter if
it tastes good
the tongue indolent
and greedy
wanting what it wants
no thought to the
oh fuck it they said
we're tired of
making sense
we're going after the
sound bites
no calories no chewing
just ironies
the good the bad and
the ugly
you know
the fucking clichés
a congregation of
hail mary's
old bags who make
beautiful music
they boil and whistle
and I run to them
jumping across the
hedge of madness into
something ressembling

jeudi 9 juillet 2015

Benjamin Biolay - A l'origine (translation)

A l'origine on était pas des sauvages
In the beginning we weren't savages
A l'origine on habitait pas la cage
In the beginning we didn't live in cages
Au premier signe on libérait les otages
At the first signal we liberated the hostages
A l'origine on faisait pas l'étalage
In the beginning we didn't make window displays
De nos racines, on avait pas d'héritage
From our roots we didn't have a heritage
A 10 centimes, on était pas si volage
At 10 cents, we weren't so fickle
Dieu Dieu ... Dieu que c'est loin
God God... God it's long ago

A l'origine on était pas des esclaves
In the beginning we weren't slaves
A l'origine on quittait pas son enclave
In the beginning we didn't leave our enclaves
D'origine la vie n'était qu'une seule phrase
In the beginning life was just one phrase
Sibylline, on mettait pas les pleins gaz
Prophetic we didn't leave the gas on
Les mandarines avaient un goût de bettraves
Mandarines had a taste like beets
Citadine on attendait dans les caves
City slickers we waited in caves
Mieux mieux... Mieux que rien
Better better... better than anything

A l'origine on avait pas des prothèses
In the beginning we didn't have prothetics
A l'origine on disait moins de foutaises
In the beginning we said less nonsense
A l'origine on avait moins de facettes
In the beginning we had fewer facets
De tour d'usine et pas besoin de prophètes
Factory work and no need for prophets
A l'origine les poules n'étaient pas des nuggets
In the beginning chickens weren't nuggets
Et pas d'usines et les poupées des puppets
And no factories and dolls and puppets
Dieu Dieu... Dieu que c'est loin
God God... God it's long ago

A l'origine on avait pas des pétards
In the beginning we didn't have shooters
De carabines mais les cheveux en pétards
Of rifles but blown-up hair (disheveled)
Dans le dressing on cachait pas de cadavre
In the dressing room we didn't hide cadavers
A l'origine on était pas si macabre
In the beginning we weren't so macabre
A l'origine il n'y avait pas les images
In the beginning there were no images
Les speackerines faisaient encore des massages
TV announcers still gave massages
Dieu mieux ... c'est mieux que rien
God better, it's better than anything

Je ne sais pas si nous étions les pires
I don't know if we were worse
Et si déjà nous révions d'en finir
And if we already dreamed of finishing ourselves off
A l'origine tout n'était qu'un mystère
In the beginning everything was just a mystery
Pas de fadas d'intifada naguère
No fate of recent intifadas

A l'origine on passait pas le message
In the beginning we didn't pass messages
A sa voisine on faisait pas de chantage
We didn't blackmail our neighbors
À la cantine il n'y avait pas de potage
In the cafeteria, there wasn't any stew
De carabines, de messagers de passages
Rifles, messengers of passages
A Colombine il va y avoir un carnage
In Colombine there was going to be a carnage
En haut des cimes il n'y avait que des nuages
Over the summit, there were only clouds
Dieu Dieu... Dieu que c'est loin
God God... God it's long ago

À l'origine on n'était pas des occases
In the beginning we weren't bargains
À l'origine on faisait pas dans l'oukase
In the beginning we didn't make edicts
A l'origine on faisait dans le détail
In the beginning we created in detail
A l'origine on était pas du bétail
In the beginning we weren't cattle
À l'origine on faisait pas des entailles
In the beginning we didn't make gashes
Longilignes, on n'ouvrait pas les entrailles
Slender types, we didn't open the entrails
Mieux mieux ... mieux que moins
Better better... better with less

A l'origine on était pas des minables
In the beginning we weren't wretches
A l'origine on piratait pas le cable
In the beginning we didn't pirate the cable
A l'origine il y avait moins de vocables
In the beginning there was less terminology
Entre les lignes on était bcp moins stables
Between the lines we were much less stable
À l'origine il n'y avait pas le Mossad
In the beginning there was no Mossad
On s'y résigne, on était pas si maussade
One resigned oneself, one wasn't so grumpy
Dieu Dieu... Dieu que c'est loin
God God... God it's long ago

A l'origine on n'avait pas peur de l'antraxe
In the beginning we weren't afraid of anthrax
De la famine, de la famille de Karl Marx
Of famine, of the family of Karl Marx
A l'origine on avait pas des Rolex
In the beginning we didn't have Rolexes
Ou des Longines on n'avait pas de Solex
Or Longine watches we didn't have Solexes
A l'origine tout n'était pas si complexe
In the beginning everything wasn't so complex
A l'origine tout n'était qu'un pretexte
In the beginning everything wasn't a pretext
Crois moi trois fois rien
Believe me, three times nothing

Je ne sais pas si nous étions les mêmes
I don't know if we were the same
Les mêmes en pire comment ca va finir ?
The same but worse how will that end ?
A l'origine il n'y avait qu'un soupir
In the beginning there was only a sigh
Et pas d'éclair sur ta poupée de cire
And no lightning strike on your wax doll
Sur ta poupée de cire, sur ta poupée de cire
On your wax doll, on your wax doll ...

Necessary positivity ...

Stumbled on this wonderful video of Jon Batiste and Stay Human while researching... they will be the house band on Stephen Colbert's Late Night. Hey, some needed joy all around! xoxoxoxo


mercredi 8 juillet 2015

Leonard Cohen - Villanelle For Our Time

Borrowed from my dear poet friend Chrissa in Athens. It really says it all.

Chrissa's poetry and translation blog: https://dfordashes.wordpress.com

samedi 4 juillet 2015

Grateful for Greece

Grateful Hellas / Theodoros Vryzakis
Η Ελλάς ευγνωμονούσα / Θεόδωρος Βρυζάκης, 1858

Greece never dies / Η Ελλάδα ποτέ δεν πεθαίνει

vendredi 3 juillet 2015

Trop de généraux

Le monde n'a pas de loi équitable
Le monde n'a pas de loi toute humaine
Il y a ceux qui ont et pas par chance
Il y a ceux qui n'ont pas dans la balance

Nous essayons d'être vus desaparecidos
Nous crions dans le centre tout au mundo
Cet homme-là a un nom très célèbre
Il peut parler avec tous ces généraux

A ma télévision
Trop de généraux
Trop de ces cruels
Trop de guerriers

Nous ne voulons pas nous avalons
Nous ne voulons pas de la guerre
Nous réspirons la même air
La couleur des oranges sanguines

Mais ma gorge souvent trop silencieuse
Dans la peur de trop généraux
Je veux être libre de parler et de chanter
En face la guerre sans visage

J'avale la paix comme l'eau de vie
J'avale la paix et je prie
Je n'ai jamais prié comme aujourd'hui
Dans ce temps de guerre perpetuelle

Il a un nom très célèbre
et puis ces pas-de-quoi dans les rues
qui n'ont ni nom ni visage ni demeure
seulement un veston de printemps

Ces pas-de-quoi c'est nous nos frères
Et nos sœurs tous prisonniers
Pendus entre toutes ces guerres
Qui sera le prochain?

(poème écrit en 2003)

vendredi 19 juin 2015

Quatre résolutions

Carl Olof Larsson - Modèle écrivant une carte postale, 1906

pour mon amie Annie

Numéro un
éviter les vieux ivrognes
ceux qui balladent
de bar en bar
en prétendant vous aimer
mais secrètement essayant de
séduire la femme à coté
qui est plus belle que vous et plus riche
et qui va partir en Europe demain
peut-être lui attaché

Numéro deux
ne pas couper les cheveux
même si votre ex-mari insiste
et jamais assez courts
mais plus encore
tandis que votre autre ex-
les aimait longs et rouges
avec un rouge à lèvre coordiné
et vous faisiez poupée, koukla
et plus encore... pute

Numéro trois
être discipliné sans besoin d'un
autre pour vous discipliner
vous avez 58 ans
vous n'êtes pas enfant
alors dire oui ou dire non
mais sachez que c'est votre propre choix
à prendre tout seul
et oui avec toutes ses conséquences
mais voilà la liberté

Numéro quatre
lire et lire sans cesse
car il y a tant de belles choses à
découvrir dans les livres
et ça va vous inspirer
et vous écrirez
et ces mots feront votre bonheur
jusqu'à la fin
vous ne vous abandonnerez pas
votre vie renouvelée vous attend
dans votre chambre

mercredi 10 juin 2015


Frida Kahlo: Diego and I

In the rocket

ricocheting off my skin
that deeply held regret
missing missing missing
one's ancient homeland
or our hands clasping
or throwing oneself into
the Aegean laughing
all of it, shit...
it's got to stop.

My heart keeps
opening up like a
surgical wound and
no amount of peroxide
no amount of time
is healing it.
It wasn't enough
to slam you to the floor
and send you packing:
the need for you
goes on and on
like hunger
like greed
like the opposite of mercy.

I'm a condemned woman
I condemn myself
and I bleed
perpetual regret:
it's folly.
You're gone and
I know it.
I must forgive myself
forgive you
forgive everything.

vendredi 5 juin 2015

Poem published in new book about Bashung

Today I received my copy of Bashung, chroniques intimes by the cousin of Alain Bashung and sister of my heart, Evelyne Kesselring Ravidat. Among the striking photos of Alain's childhood, illustrations by Ethel Ravidat, explications of texts in light of Bashung's history, and encounters with his fans, there is a chapter called "Laura". This is the story of my long, painful illness and the discovery of Alain's music from my couch in Oregon, specifically the album "L'imprudence"... Evelyne writes movingly and sensitively of this extraordinary period of my life, and the section concludes with my translation project after his death. Finally, my poem "Goût de citron" (Taste of Lemon) that I wrote for Alain in 2009 concludes the book, a great gift for which I will be forever grateful.

Aujourd'hui, j'ai reçu ma copie de Bashung, chroniques intimes par la cousine d'Alain Bashung et mon âme-sœur, Evelyne Kesselring Ravidat. Parmi des photos frappantes de la jeunesse d'Alain, des beaux dessins de Ethel Ravidat, des explications de textes basées sur l'histoire de Bashung, et des rencontres avec ses fans, il y a un chapitre intitulé "Laura". Ceci est l'histoire de ma longue maladie douleureuse et la découverte de la musique d'Alain de mon divan en Oregon, précisément l'album "L'imprudence"... Evelyne écrit avec délicatesse et émotion de cette période extraordinaire de ma vie, et la section se termine avec mon projet de traduction après sa mort. Enfin, mon poème "Goût de citron" que j'ai écrit pour Alain en 2009 conclut le livre, un beau cadeau pour lequel je resterai toujours reconnaissante.

Pour commander/To order: http://www.editionslilavril.fr/medias/images/bon-de-commande-bashung-chroniques-intimes.jpg

jeudi 21 mai 2015

Of Monsters and Men in PDX tonight

"Because nothing grows when it is dark ..."

lundi 11 mai 2015

The Loneliness of the Bilingual Poet

I cannot justify
why a single poem
speaks to me in
one language over another
but it does
choosing the flat American narrative
against the metaphysical French wave
a story of shock and awe
or those philosophical ponderings

All I know is when I'm done
the words sit on a fence like
crows against a landscape
until they heckle and jeckle me
into reading them aloud
and I read them as they are writ
in that godforsaken foreign language
droning on and on and on and on
until the whole room is numb

Then try to sweep it back to life
with rapid-fire translation
but it always fails because
there is none
and my heart is hit
with that hollow dart
and I again become
the dreaded stranger
of my endlessly lonely youth

mercredi 15 avril 2015


Once upon me I was not afraid
when the sky opened her wings
and swallowed the seabirds
and I went tumbling in that great mouth
with birds, clouds and minions of the wind
all of us flailing together as one

I counted myself as one
who of nothing was afraid
no matter the storms that came rushing on the wind
and assailed the heart's sweet span of wings
regardless I would open my mouth
and speak the truth of the seabirds

And yet dear as they are those seabirds
inclining and declining like a swoop of one
it was chaos that formed in that sky's dark mouth
and in chaos how can one not be afraid
frantically fluttering one's broken wings
and losing the battle against that wind

Oh she howled that vicious wind
and tore the feathers of the seabirds
from their delicate and salt-laden wings
as down they fell one by one
too much in despair to be afraid
whilst fire exhaled from the demon's mouth

And from my own demented mouth
I cried out unto that cruel wind
Of you, devil, I will not be afraid
although my heart beats like the seabirds
for with them I shall rise as one
on God's great protective wings

And then to shelter under those wings
and in his truth-filled mouth
all innocents may sit as one
and look into the sea's harsh wind
to fish again with the diving seabirds
never to be hungry or afraid”

My prayer on wings I send with the wind
and I sing with the mouth of the seabirds
One love, one life, never afraid

jeudi 19 février 2015

Sea Pine

I can't see it
but I can smell it
drifting on the wind
pine sap and dark brown honey
all wood perfume like deep forest
striking my yellow jacket heart
autumnal like dying leaves 
or those helicopter seeds
yet this is not leaves or seeds
but Mediterranean ambrosia.
In front of infinite turquoise
roaring with siren song
I'm searching every branch
marching miles of seawall
gypsy parks and empty tavernas
my eyes desperate to find it
to know its form, name its name
bottle it and take it home
as a memento of this moment
of my great love for Greece
to wear it on my pulse points
and grieve for years
what will never be mine again
what was always transient and ephemeral
like the scent of sea pine in November.

mardi 17 février 2015

Black Sun--Death Cab for Cutie

"There is grace within forgiveness
But it's so hard for me to find ..."

lundi 16 février 2015

I Used to Stay Alive for You, Now I Stay Alive for Me

All those years on a couch
in constant pain
often barely able to raise up
and make it to the bathroom
I thought about how
you'd never understand
if I had to leave my body
that vertiginous entity over which
I had no control except to kill 
but could not because
I didn't want to leave you
with any doubts about
how much I loved you
or how much you loved me
so I fought for 16 years
although it seemed unbelievable
that God or anyone else
could leave me like that...

So I lived for you all those years
because it seemed I owed you that
since it was no longer my mind
that was the weak link
but my body...

Now that I am well
and you will not speak to me
blaming me for the things
that were out of my hands
during your childhood
when doctors fed me antipsychotics
antidepressants and neuroleptics
and told me that my own
brain chemistry was at fault 
that I would never be well
without those toxic cocktails
and how could I know better
I who was grieving more
than you will ever comprehend?
If they had only asked me
"What are you grieving for?"
I might have told them...

Now that I am living for myself
and celebrating a new life
standing on my own two feet
and recovering from all forms
of addiction and codependency
I am proud of myself
and I am happy.

mardi 13 janvier 2015

Miami, Miami, 1974

for Luis Cataldo

If I ran into you
after all these years
If I ran like I ran
then, running now
from your goodness
I was too young
to know what was
good for me
the way your eyes
sparkled when you
talked to me
the way you held me
when we slept
the way you loved sex
the way you came home
from your cooking job
just to make me
Puerto Rican ink and rice
the way you made me laugh
the way you avoided cockroaches
the way you played the sax
I understood none of it at 17
I was just sad and angry
I wanted to hide in the dark
and eat Sara Lee cheesecake
I could barely talk
It was my first psychosis
You even moved the furniture
when I said you could stay
but only in half the apartment
and after you set it all up
the way I wanted
the couch as a barrier
I told you to get out
to just get out
and you left
taking your music and your smiles
to another homeland

I met your daughter
yesterday on facebook
She is a lovely girl and talented
She told me you have six children
two who still live with you in Zion
and blessings upon you
you are still blowing that sax
playing backup to her vocals
ever supportive, ever sweet
a lover for all seasons
a man you would be proud
to have known

Miss Florida, Delta Burke, 1974: