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"Memory of Stone" - Poems


Memory of stone, body of the rain
archer from another age
everything cheap, forgotten by everyone
as simply as that, because it's over.

Yet now that storms are gathering
and we are searching for harbours to hide in
as simply as that, murdering the music,
the approaching danger ... we do not hear it.

Tears of the pine, blood of the wound
white cells of an empty prison
everything cheap, forgotten by everyone
as simply as that, because it's over.


On University Street I am a lie
On Aolus Street I am a blank sheet of paper
Don't waste your time looking for me there,
where we met so often, for:

The system has conscripted me
I went missing on a mission
am a stranger in my own country
no letter will reach me.

There are cracks in the steps of the sun
there is no warmth any more by day
the Unknown Soldier of Constitution Square
stood up and left, for

He is sick and tired of parades
the dream shatters like glass
remember: this is the Balkans here
and the betrayed Near East as well.


Once the sun used to rise over Athens
and shine on us;
then a warm rain
would fall on us.
It watered our buds
and our errors blossomed!

Thus we sank into the abyss of loneliness
in houses, parallel and flat,
our ideals:
a job in the Public Service
and another in the stadiun.

At night lovers would go out
into the forests, to embrace;
but life hung
by a thread
which one day snapped
and the storm broke.


Lift that bears me up up
to the hundredth floor
the instructions are strict:
"Two persons only".
The corridor is a tunnel
mine or arcade
occasionally can be heard:
"Third door on the left."

I had promised you the islands of Paradise
but now can only approach you
cursing and angry.

Windows, which look out
into far infinity
Memories scented
with mint and eucalyptus.
You look at me and are afraid
I could destroy your dreams:
what an insignificant little chap
your old hero has become!


Destroyed by misery
this sacred house.
Shown off to satiety
torn down by foreign hands.
This house!

And Alexander the Great is late,
is late, when will he come;
the dead are restless
another March under the earth.

This house needs working on
the roof-tiles need replacing.
Yet who will light the fire
and burn up all the debris.
This house!


One day this love too will end
and our tears
will return to their secret sources.
One day, in the vast dawn
the moon too will die of cold.

How are you to travel with love
how are you to draw the line
the sirens corner us
draining mind and body.

Would the grass of the earth grow
out of our arteries
would life erupt in fountains and light.
One day the time will come again
and even the blood will dry.

My love with the black hair
song of fire, on the lips, bitterness;
who sowed on the garden steps
the separation of a Tuesday in April.

My love when your are not at home t
he darkness oppresses me
my solitude takes off its jacket
and death makes coffee.

My love forgotten in the mountains
Today no-one is left who remembers us;
in the place where your heart beat
the sun sinks and sets.


Your name is not a word
it is a shining tree
it is my roots in the sun
salvation before the void.

That is why when I call you
the abyss becomes a garden
the whispering of agony
in the semi-darkness, a psalm.

It is the wing-beat of the angels
at the altar of a church
it is the wolfs step
on the edge of starlight.

Your name is not a word
it is a flash of lightning in the dusk
a storm that was kindled
in forest fires of antiquity.


Night rises like water
into my chamber
and from a tavern in the night
sad songs resound
weeping for you
and for me.

Birds beat their wings at my window
a storm is getting up;
ships on the open sea today
sound their sirens and steam sadly away
weeping for you
and for me.

I always think back to that time
think back to Tripolis
how the years have gone by, like water
sad songs resound
weeping for you
and for me.


I write only sad songs
melancholy folk dances
I, emigrant without origins,
in this betrayed land.

My songs, they weep
in rebetical rhythm
telling of cast-outs
cursing the mighty.

I write only dirges like those
from the Mani, or the Sirtos from Ipiros
for Greece deep in my breast
fades, decays and dies.


In a lonely pub
death came to you
at twenty
on Friday morning.

You spent your life
cursing and swearing
in your smooth hair
laurels and chrysanthemums.

So many years destroyed
in an unequal fight
and with all the Ouzo, your curse
smelled of sweet aniseed.

Your jacket in the corner
silent child
Emigrant in Nea Makri
you who came from Militos.


A cold North wind blows down
at night from the Acropolis
thinning out the flowers,
weeps and tells Byzantine tales:
o homeland thou
they threw dice for you on tick!

The petrified years
come and cover us
how am I to remember
houses and men in the depths
o homeland thou
they threw dice for you on tick!

The body of Andrutsos weeps
like the bitter sea
man, how the times have changed
today we are ruled over by Bavarians
o homeland thou
they threw dice for you on tick!

O bitterness of despair
you blossomed in our sleep
unknown shipwrecked foreigners
we have become, in our own country
o homeland thou
they threw dice for you on tick!

Michalis Bourboulis - Adapted and translated by Ariel Wagner-Parker

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