mercredi 9 décembre 2015

Paris chante pour les poètes

Si je dois écrire Paris
il faut que je le fasse en poésie
car quand Paris dit son nom
on n'entend que de chansons
éclattant de son cœur, de son marbre
ses lumières, ses ombres
s'embrassent dans une danse
de libertié d'avant
de plaisir sans attente
et tout le monde sait ça
dans son bruit, dans son silence
voilà comme Paris chante
constamment sans peur de rien

Vivre à Paris il faut du courage
car on doit vivre chaque instant
sans compter si le soir
va finir tôt ou tard
si l'on va se trouver sans voiture
si les restaurants ou le métro ferme
car trouver qu'on est seul
sans ni montre ni téléphone
écoutant un cloche qui sonne
que c'est déja le matin
et qu'on a marché d'un bout à l'autre
entouré par les fantômes qui chantent
tous les poètes morts et vivants

Ça c'est la joie, notre raison d'être
Que Paris chante pour ses poètes!

jeudi 12 novembre 2015

my greek phone is dying

my greek phone is dying
it made me feel special
with all its greek bells and whistles
flying greek alphabet
and greek wake-you-up jingle

it's a smart phone
it once saved me when 
an athens bus brought
me to a mountain village
or when a crazy woman
rushed me on a dark boulevard
shrieking "I know what you've done!"

it's got my daily alarms
texts from my greek lover
and songs he sent to calm
me when I said it was over
but they're all gone now
with a factory reset
that didn't fix it anything

every minute or so people say
"you're gone again...
can you repeat that?"
i'm tired of repeating myself
tired of the disappearing act

i'm grieving the end 
of a marriage
i'm grieving the end 
of a romance
and my phone is helping
me again by dying

"o kosmos mas, esi" 
efharisto! signomi!

mercredi 11 novembre 2015

samedi 7 novembre 2015

The Return

Returning to an old city
for a new life
it isn't easy
Around every corner
are memories
and buses take routes
never anticipated
passed the lying-in hospital
where my first son was born
and where every year
he returned with croupe
the threat of laryngectomy
pressing against his throat
and my breasts overflowing
with the milk they denied him

I accidentally walked past
the nw children's theater
where my second son
studied Hamlet
Where was I then?
Depressed miles away in a bed
I couldn't get out of
but somehow or other
I caught every performance
If they only knew
how much I loved them

I drove past the old
TV station where
I worked in the 80s
I spent five years
training teachers in
the fine art of
cross curricular television
I put everything into it
while the man I married
walked a tightrope
between love and alcohol
He slipped and fell
I couldn't catch him
and by then I wasn't sure
I wanted to
but I wanted to:
I went crazy
resigned from my job
tried to save 
the whole damned world
wound up in a hospital

They say you can't
go back
but you can
I've proved it
I'm willing to take
I'm eager to forgive
and be forgiven
Until then
I'll just keep
riding buses
rounding corners
remembering love
that never dies

dimanche 1 novembre 2015

Good riddance to all abusers!

When you nailed me to the cross
with your hate-filled speech
I bled a little, rolled my eyes
and then expired
I wasn't going to hang around
and let you sever my head
kick it down the hill
and send it into the abyss
where it would spin
in a gravity-less space
big enough to get lost in forever
No, I expired, a hundred-years faint
that I carried in my heart
and wore on my face
like a mask of sadness
I couldn't hide it
and everyone who saw me
would say, "You look so sad!
What happened?"
and I would poo-poo them
full of misplaced shame
and wanting to protect them
"I just have sad eyes
It's nothing"
but inside I was dying
remembering your cruelty
when what I needed most
was love and compassion

Like a fool
I found you again and again
in one form or another
brother, mother, child, lover
and the cycle would begin
the hammer, the sickle,
the chopping block, the volley
I guess I took it on
because I couldn't love myself
but I've been practicing
Every moment that your whip
embedded in my brain matter
begins to crack and sting
I've trained myself to answer
"I accept myself
fully and unconditionally
right here, right now"
and the whip flies
from your hand
and from my head
and a great calm descends
upon my spirit
Then I say
"I accept you too
fully and unconditionally
right here, right now"
but I don't want you
in my life anymore
if you think you can ever
speak to me like that again
I love myself too much
to listen to your vulgar judgments
those hard lies you tell yourself
to feel superior
that you pronounce as easily
as a killer kills --
Good riddance, all abusers!
Your raging star is no longer
the center of my universe
I don't care who you are
It's over
I am free

jeudi 22 octobre 2015

Recovery Rag

I could languish over
then throw myself
into the sea
but I won't do it
I'm so glad I
washed the dishes
and my teeth last night
before I hit the bed
Bad habits sneak in
so easily
the self-pity
the paralysis
the disgust
like a lifelong practice
of apathy
Now I try
not to give up
put one foot forward
then trudge
make a phone call
finish the novel
open up the window
greet the day
then remind myself
one more time
that I'm worth it

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 song
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 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
religious 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 Demeter'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:

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: