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.

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.

Regeneration by Pat Barker [Review]

regenerationRegeneration. A brilliant, intense and subtle novel set in the First World War. The book is set at Craiglockhart War Hospital, 1917, a hospital for treating soldiers suffering from different forms of shell shock. It starts with anthropologist turned psychologist William Rivers waiting for the arrival of Siegfried Sassoon, who has been sent to Craiglockhart due to him protesting against the war, throwing his military cross in the Mersey River and writting a ‘letter of wilful defiance’. Robert Graves also makes an appearance in the book, a friend of Sassoon’s, who has actually sent Sassoon to Craiglockhart Hospital to spare him being court marshalled after his declaration against continuing fighting the Great War.

Throughout the book we are met by different characters suffering from shell shock. Some are fictitious and some are based on real people. Despite the fact that some patients are fictitious, Barker seems to have based them on actual cases recorded by the real Dr. Rivers which makes them as real as the likes of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. When reading the book, you cannot help but feel a bit melancholy and sorry for the poor victims suffering from shell shock. While Dr. Rivers makes his rounds of Craiglockhart checking on his patients, you get the feel of a life surrounded by suffering and tragedy. A haunting life.

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Siegfried Sassoon

Barker manages to mix fiction and fact so effortlessly. Most of her characters did actually exist. As already mention, there is Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, along with psychologists who actual did exist and treat numerous of shell shocked patients (even though in the book some are nameless). We, the reader, get to see the inside world of these magnificent characters. We meet young, idealistic Wilfred Owen shyly giving his poems to Sassoon to look at. Sassoon helps Wilfred Owen have more faith in himself and soon we experience the writing of one of Owen’s famous poems; ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’.

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Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

They become good friends and eventually have a mutual respect for one another. Dr. Rivers is another factual character in Regenation and you cannot help but love him. He cares for his patients and tries to treat their shell shock with the most humane way possible as well as with something close to tenderness. He himself has never been in battle so there is a distance from the horrible experience his patients have gone through. He lives the experience of warfare through his patients while secretly, I believe, feels guilty that he could not fight alongside his fellow countrymen. He believes that ”the war must be fought to a finish, for the sake of the succeeding generations”.

As well as her factual characters, Baker’s fictional characters are also very interesting. Billy Prior, for example, has a working-class background and risen to become a second- lieutenant. He comes to Craiglockhart not being able to speak (due to his experiences) as well as suffering from severe asthma. He is intelligent, ambitious, awkward and, socially and sexually ambiguous. At first, I have to admit, I was not sure whether I liked Prior as he was rude, crude and just … unbearable at times. But I did grow to like him and I was happy to see his progress and his route to recovery. His relationship to factory worker Sarah Lamb shows his softer side (I believe). Other patients (who are fictional) are: David Burns who has ‘vomiting nightmares caused by a mouthful of decomposing German flesh’ (not pleasant at all!) and Anderson, who was once a surgeon, but due to his wartime experiences cannot continue practising due to the fact that he hates the sight of blood and experiencing mental breakdowns.

There is a particular scene in the book which actually made me feel uneasy. To be fair, there were a few scenes that made me feel uneasy and so sorry for the soldiers going through all that; however, this scene takes place in a London hospital. Dr Rivers visits this particular hospital one day and watches Dr Lewis Yealland administering frequent and agonising electrical shocks to a patient who has been mute by his wartime experiences. When you area reading you can feel the terrified soldier trying to utter one single word so that this inhuman torture can stop. Even Dr Rivers feels uneasy during this ‘treatment’. We find out at the end of the book, an author’s note telling us that Dr. Lewis Yealland actually existed and he did use those ghastly methods during wartime as detailed in his book. Not my favourite part of the book at all.

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W.H.R. Rivers outside of Craiglochart Hospital

Regeneration is a thoughtful, sombre and sometimes a intense read. It’s a book that explores the mental state of soldiers affected by the Great War. It is a really good read and you do get invested in the characters. You are supporting them through their treatment and hoping they get better. You feel sorry for those who probably will not get better but are still remaining hopeful for them. I would recommend it to anyone especially those who are history fanatics and are interested in the First World War, but also to anyone who wants to give it a try. I have to warn you though, it is a book about a hospital with soldiers suffering from shell-shocked, it will be upsetting at certain times.

Apparently Regeneration is the first book in a trilogy. The second book is ‘The Eye in the Door’. Might have to go and find a copy of that soon.  Enjoy!

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out these hasty orisons.

-From Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

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.

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.