Mykonos- K.J. Koukas

Background to the poem:

I recently went back home for a wee break. I was sitting out on our balcony and just enjoying the evening and watching the beautiful sunset. My mind was wandering (as it usually does) and the birds were chirping. Before I knew it this poem surfaced in my head and I quickly wrote it down before it decided to disappear. Hope you like it!

 

Mykonos – K.J. Koukas (April 2017)

Why! Have you seen
Anything so supreme
White and blue is the theme.

Far ahead windmills can be seen
Olive trees around make the scene
And let us not forget
Donkeys walking through the streets.

Come morning…

Cats and pelicans walking side by side
Talking about the days gone by
Fishermen preparing their morning catch
While locals sitting and having a chat.

The sun shining
And the sea glistening
As if small pieces
Of a mirror are sparkling.

Now come evening…

The sun is tucked away
Gone to sleep for another day.
The moon comes out
And settles for the night.

Out comes the night sky
Glowing with starlight.
Shooting stars ahead
Make a wish before it is too late.

Listen!
Crickets are singing their song
While night hunters are running along
Discovering a whole new world.

Look around and behold
For I believe
I have found paradise
In this part of the world.

Advertisements

Two seagulls – K. J. Koukas

Background to the poem:

Another one of my poems, but this one is slightly different. I am not sure what to call it. Maybe a comical poem? Don’t know. Some background to this. I come from a small island in Greece where everyone knows everyone. So sometimes there can be no privacy or a story could get round in seconds. Old families have nicknames, everyone is hospitable, and in some respect we are all one big family. Now, imagine old grandmothers sitting around, people watching, gossiping and spreading rumours. I was home over the Christmas period and while sitting at a cafe with my sister this poem just occurred. Our mascot is a pelican called Petros and on that particular day he was out roaming the roads. We saw him and said hello and there was an actual goose who would not stop crying. At one point the goose was ‘shouting’ at a parked car. My sister and I found that odd and laughed of course. So here it is…. 

Two seagulls – K. J. Koukas  (January 2017)
Sitting at the cafe
And what do I see ?
Two seagulls going by
Talking in a high.This is how it went.

Why did you hear ?
Said the one
About what ?
Said the other

Why about Petros the pelican?
What about Petros the pelican?
Why he had an affair
What ? Really?

Yes. Apparently she was quite a gal.
And he quite a flirt
Why yes. How did you know?
Why that is Petros for you.

Anyway. They went flapping together
You don’t say.
Why I do say.
And then what happened ?

Why then they ended up beaking.
No!?
Yes.
No!

I start gigging and they turn
They look at me
And say what a strange creature
They turn and start again.

Why did you hear ?
Said the one
About what?
Said the other.

Why about Mrs Goose.
What about Mrs Goose?
Why she was drunk and loud
Oh really?

Why yes…

And off they went.
Two seagulls going by
Talking on a high.

Wondrous Land- K. J. Koukas

Background to the poem:

To be quite honest with you I have no idea where this poem came from. I was at the park with a friend and I was just gazing into the distance. I just love autumn, with the leaves falling from the trees. The orange  yellow colour. While I was processing the scene in front of me, a poem or two I read a long time ago came to my head and inspired me to write this. I hope you like it and it is not too terrible. 

Wondrous Land- K.J. Koukas [October 2016]

Behold this wondrous land.

The sun shines
And the flames flicker
The moon glistens
And the stars glitter

Lakes lay quiet
As the water sleeps
Wood crackles
As the fire heats.

Listen carefully
What is that you hear?

As howling wolves release their cries
There is a voice in the wind
Travelling from afar
Whispering tales long gone by

Behold this wondrous land
For it seems it is a fairyland.

Goodbye- K.J. Koukas (August 2012)

Background to the poem:

In July 2012 I graduated with a BA in Classical Studies. It was a great day and a sad day. Goodbyes had to be said between good friends with the possibility of not seeing them again for a very long time.  Those three years during my BA were the best. I met the best of people and made friends for life. There was laughter and there was sadness. It was a great journey and a great adventure. But that didn’t mean that it had to be the end on our graduation day. Just the beginning of a new adventure with the promise of not to lose each other.

After graduating and after saying my goodbyes I went home and wrote this poem. Didn’t think much of it at the time but I thought I should put it up now and share it with the world… before I changed my mind! Hope you like it.

 

Goodbye- K.J. Koukas (August 2012)

It’s time to say goodbye
But we will not cry
we are going away
each their separate way.

We might not  see each other again
but even if this is true
we will never forget one another.
You’re in my heart
and I’m sure I am in yours.
We’ll kiss each other goodbye
and say farewell
hoping to meet soon.

We will stand strong
and hold our heads high.
Goodbye my dear friend
I’ll miss you.

George Paulopoulos- The statue and the sculptor [Review]

Γιώργης Παυλόπουλος «Το άγαλμα και ο τεχνίτης»

Σαν έκλεινε το μουσείο
αργά τη νύχτα η Δηιδάμεια
κατέβαινε από το αέτωμα.
Κουρασμένη από τους τουρίστες
έκανε το ζεστό λουτρό της και μετά
ώρα πολλή μπροστά στον καθρέφτη
χτένιζε τα χρυσά μαλλιά της.
Η ομορφιά της ήταν για πάντα
σταματημένη μες στο χρόνο.

Τότε τον έβλεπε πάλι εκεί
σε κάποια σκοτεινή γωνιά να την παραμονεύει.
Ερχόταν πίσω της αθόρυβα
της άρπαζε τη μέση και το στήθος
και μαγκώνοντας τα λαγόνια της
με το ένα του πόδι
έμπηγε τη δυνατή του φτέρνα
στο πλάι του εξαίσιου μηρού της.

Καθόλου δεν την ξάφνιαζε
κάθε φορά που της ριχνόταν.
Άλλωστε το περίμενε, το είχε συνηθίσει πια.
Αντιστεκόταν τάχα σπρώχνοντας
με τον αγκώνα το φιλήδονο κεφάλι του
και καθώς χανόταν όλη
μες στην αρπάγη του κορμιού του
τον ένιωθε να μεταμορφώνεται
σιγά σιγά σε κένταυρο.

Τώρα η αλογίσια οπλή του
την πόναγε κάπου εκεί
γλυκά στο κόκαλο
και τον ονειρευότανε παραδομένη
ανάμεσα στο φόβο της και τη λαγνεία του
να τη λαξεύει ακόμη.

_________

Translated by K.J.Koukas:

George Paulopoulos- The statue and the sculptor

As the museum was closing
late in the night Deidamia
came down from the pediment.
Tired from the tourists
she had her hot bath and then
hours in front of the mirror
she brushed her golden hair.
Her beauty was forever
‘trapped’ in time.

Then she saw him there again
in some dark corner lurking.
He came behind her silently
and grabbed her waist and breast
and ‘trapping’ her loins
with his one leg
he tamped his strong heel
and the side of her splendid thigh.

This did not surprise her at all
He threw himself at her all the time.
Besides she expected it, she was used to it by now.
She resisted as though she pushed
with her elbow his sensual head
and as her whole self got lost
in the gripping of his body
she felt him transforming
slowly slowly into a centaur.

Now his horse-like back
hurt her somewhat there
sweetly on the bone
and she dreamt of him  surrendered (to him)
between her fear and his lust
as he lusted after her still.

 

COMMENTS/MY VIEWS:

I recently decided to go back in time and revisit some poems I looked at during my school years. I grew up in Greece and studied a lot of Greek poets. We would always focus on Greek authors, Greek poets, Greek history… etc. By the time I got to university I wanted something different so I disregarded anything to do with Greece. I had already discovered authors such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and poets such as Robert Browning but wanted to find more. Despite my ‘stand against’ anything Greek related it was inevitable for me to revisit a bit of my schooling. I will admit that I did like some of the poetry we studied and had to learn. Some have stuck with me and for the past few months I have been going through them. I have rediscovered poets such as; K.P. Kavafi, Odysseas Elitis, Giannis Ritsos and many more. While I was at home (over Christmas) I found my old text books from school, I was looking through them and found more poems, some that I had completely forgotten about.

This particular poem ‘The statue and the sculptor’ by George Paulopoulos is one of those that have just stuck with me. I could not remember who the poet was, but I did remember that the poem was about a statue coming alive after the museum closed for the day. (something like Night at the museum I guess!) When I was looking through my text book I found the title and I knew instantly that this was it. I have no clue why this particular one stuck with me. Is it because of my interest in Ancient history? Due to my degree? Who knows.

I have tried my best to translate this poem and I hope it works for the non-speaking-

Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs. Temple of Zeus

West Pediment- Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs. Temple of Zeus. (found online)

Greek-poetry-fanatics out there.  Before I start rambling about the poem let me give you some background to who the statue is meant to be and the mythology behind her. The statue is the nymph Deidamia and the whole story is the one depicted on the west pediment of Zeus’ temple in Olympia. It tells the story of the battle between the centaurs and the Lapiths. According to mythology the Lapiths were a people in Thessaly who lived near Pelion. The centaurs were creatures with the upper body of humans and the lower body of horses. The king of the Lapiths was getting married to the nymph Deidamia and amongst the guests were the centaurs. It is said that at the wedding celebration the king of the centaurs, Euripion, had a bit too much to drink and sexually attacked Deidamia. As you can imagine that did not go down well and a battle between the Lapiths and the centaurs commenced. This particular poem depicts the centaur Euripion violently embracing Deidamia.

As far as I remember from my school years and what I gather from reading it again after so many years is that the depiction of the battle depicts the battle between ‘spirit and animalistic passion’ towards something or someone who is god-like beautiful.

Life, the beauty of youth and the precious emotion of love remain for eternity, protected by the harsh passing of time.  Deidamia waking up and becoming alive after the museum closes shows that her beauty has been ‘shielded’ and ‘preserved’ in the manner of being a statue. The sculptor, who is anonymous, made sure to preserve her beauty  and offers her the possibility of immortality.  He gives her the possibility to harness this youth for eternity, giving her a life away from the discreet eyes of the public.

Deidamia every night, after the closure of the museum,  is able to release herself from the centaur’s tight embrace and is free to enjoy moments of peace, freedom and quietness. She is able to relax by having a bath and brush her golden hair… or does she? It can be argued that even though the night bathing and brushing of her hair might seem as means of relaxation, they are in fact a  means of preparation for his reception. It is believed by some (according to my notes) that the centaur’s lust for our beloved nymph plays a key role to her immortal beauty and preservation. The sculptor, the man who carved the beauty of this young woman, is the one that is lurking in the dark corner, waiting for the opportune moment to grab her and lay his hands on his beautiful creation. He is the one who slowly turns into a centaur. He imitates the centaur from the myth and the scene on the pediment. He wants nothing more than to hold this beauty close to him. The sculptor’s passion for his creation is thus shown.

It is shown that she is used to his attacks, does this mean that she knows she belongs in his violent embrace? Her return to the Centaur is inevitable. She knows that she was created in his embrace and according to the story of the battle between Lapiths and Centaurs she eventually ends aggressively attacked by the Centaur. Her place is with the Centaur and in the end she will be in his tight embrace. Thus her freedom is brief, enough for her to have a bath and brush her hair. Her return to the Centaur’s embrace is immortal and repetitive as this happens every night. Both the Centaur and the sculptor want to be by her side.

Now according to my notes and from what I remember from my readings and research of this poem, the element of love and passion can be witnessed in this poem. The love and passion between the sculptor and his creation and between Deidamia and the Centaur.  Some say that without passion and love there would be no meaning in life. As already mentioned it could be said that the sculptor and the Centaur are linked and both want to have Deidamia’s love. In addition,  if the Centaur owns her body for eternity (by claiming it through his lust), then the sculptor owns her soul which he claimed with his creation of her and shielding her beauty forever.

I have no clue whether any of my rambling makes any sense to you. But I thought I should share this poem and my thoughts and ‘old school notes’. It is a good poem and it has stuck with me for a long time. I hope you enjoy it as much I do.

Battle-Between-the-Lapiths-and-Centaurs- Luca Giordano

Battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs. Painting created by Luca Giordano

 

[any information about background and comments for the poem I consulted with my old school reports/notes from my-then-teacher and some little facts online]

Sorrow by K.J.Koukas

Background to the poem:

A year ago today, I received sad news from my mother. She told me that my father’s uncle, my beloved great-uncle Mixalis died. He was 94 years old. He lived a good life and he was the loveliest man I knew from my father’s family. Little did we know that great-uncle Mixalis was not the only one we were going to lose that month. It was a strange time and I have to say one of the saddest moment/month of our life. On Christmas day, last year, we lost our dear dear friend Abu. He was one of mum’s oldest friends and best friend to both my parents. My sister and I knew Abu all our lives and saw him as part of our family. We all loved him very dearly. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and finally the deadly poison took him from us. We did know it was going to come some day, but we did not expect Christmas Day. Then a third death. My mum’s uncle, my great-uncle Dan died in January. He was my pen pal. We started writing proper letters to each other years ago. I still have all those letters and I will treasure them forever. When the news of great-uncle Dan reached me, I just broke down. To me and my sister it felt like we lost so many family members in the space of a month. My grandmother always told us that everything comes in threes and in this particular incident she was right. I was so sad during that month , I sat down and just wrote this poem. 

Sorrow-  K.J.Koukas — January 2015

The moment that you died
my heart was torn in two
one part filled with heartache
the other died with you.

I often lie awake at night
when the world is fast asleep
and down memory lane I leap
with tears upon my cheek.

Remembering you is easy
I do it every day
but missing you is heartache
that never goes away.

I hold you tightly in my heart
and there you will remain
until the joyous day arrives
that we will meet again.