dimanche 27 septembre 2015

Hélas Hellas


I.
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.

II.
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
religious nonsense
more blasphemy
more cannibalism
more 21st-century anarchy
We both see the frozen future
and no one hears us.

III.
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

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