Vol. 36 No 3-4
Greek Poetry: New Voices and Ancient Echoes
From: At the Turn of Day (1992)
When I was fifteen, one evening
I left the cinema in the footsteps of
Natalie Wood and James Dean.
I remember large rooms and within them
smaller rooms, like dressing rooms.
In one of them, Rita Hayworth's eyes
followed me with surprise. Later I met
Marlon Brando who laughed at my broken
English and gave me his white T-shirts to wear
and his old black boots. For years I stayed with them,
I even played a couple of small parts. It was cold everywhere
and I spoke Greek loudly to the walls,
to the trees, and the machines. I didn't allow
my tongue to freeze, to be forgotten.
I travelled much. I married twice.
I don't have children. Friends I do have.
I painted a little from time to time.
But mainly I played the alto sax.
Later on, my regular job was
working as a movie extra. In thousands of movies.
I opened doors, I sat stock-still,
I chased dogs, was chased by murderers,
I swam for hours or played the chauffeur
for bosses and many more of life's roles.
Often I fell from skyscrapers.
Not out of desperation, but so that I would be featured
in the Guinness Book of Records. Falling, I would see,
upside-down, people in their apartments
going about their daily business.
I would land softly on the pavement or get caught
in electrical wires, or on poles
where flags rippled on the façade of the building.
They said: that Greek sure knows tricks, he can fly.
It rained for months on end and in tin
sheds I drank with other outcasts,
usually old Indians, stripped of their
For quite a while I worked in a circus.
I cleaned the elephants and snakes.
I also worked for insurance companies.
Me, so desperate, thirsty, and homeless.
A kiss or a verse might follow me for years
through life. Other times
they disappeared like a gunshot in the night.
I was an immigrant, lived in basements,
grew a beard, grew thoughts, trained flees,
without ever managing anything.
Now I work as a prompter.
When the lights dim, my voice grows,
the tired bodies get going
and the show begins.
Translated by Peter Constantine
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The