Five poems of Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis)

15 November 2019
Author :  

Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet, author and translator. He’s the most prolific writer-poet of the Greek diaspora. At the age of eleven he transcribed the nearly 500 year old romantic poem Erotokritos, now released in a limited edition of 100 numbered copies and made available for collectors of such rare books at 5,000 dollars Canadian: the most expensive book of its kind to this day. He’s recognized for his ability to convey images and thoughts in a rich and evocative way that tugs at something deep within the reader. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, Brazil, and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, Turkish, German, Hungarian, Serbian, Russian, Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, Portuguese languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries.

 

OLD COUPLE

 

Long and narrow rusted table

hardly stands motionless

bleached out tablecloth as though

thrown in debts of river for a long time

cloth faded like her eyes gazing the sea’s

agony that reaches the foreign land

where her son has vanished

 

shade of grapevine thick like a sin

and harsh like a thought pounding

her memory that light may be reborn

 

and he brings two plates

trembling hands pour wine in two glasses

small plate with olives, piece of feta

 

and the sigh expertly camouflaged by a smile

the lone cicada that insists to disturb

monologue of their loneliness

 

finally he sits next to her when

above them the grapevine laughs

as his calloused fingers touch

her wrinkled hand and the sun

somewhere higher than everybody

roars with laughter when the old man says

to her…you forgot to make the salad

 

 

In memory of my parents

in their late years of life in the village

 

 

 

BURDEN

 

He put his bag on the floor,

laid next to me

he raised one leg and

leaned it against the wall

as if to leave on it

a fleshy mark

a faint human trace

the other leg was resting

on the cool cement

 

suddenly as though he remembered

something very important

 

he got up

walked to the table

leaned down and smelt

the last bloomed rose

then he let a sigh float

in the darkened room

as if to release

burden of his last breath

and without any word

on the cool cement he collapsed

 

 

DELPHI

 

Even this solemn remnant

of the ancient temple standing

like an anchorite in meditation

by the slope of the tired hill

even this they shall defile

 

remember it — I said

 

half-breed men with wide shoulder-blades

and hierodules with exquisite cheekbones

swaying their provocative buttocks

for the amusement of the winds

and for the sea’s virgin salinity

even this they shall defile

 

remember it — I said

 

aimlessly before the innocent statues

they shall desecrate and life the whore

they shall call and with stamina

and unyielding persistence they shall

bury the primeval beauty and after

they exhume the ancestral hatred

and guilt, the pneuma they shall imprison

to be guarded by Herculean arms

and theirs the wealth

of the valley and my kin’s reward

bloodshed in streets and neighborhoods

where you and I once roamed and played

making plans for exploits and deeds

 

and you said —

 

it would have been better if we stayed

obedient to the holy and venerable

half-truths brought to our lands by easterners

at least they promised a gleaming Paradise

 

 

FIRES

 

Ancient fires still burning

inside the temples

 

outside the porticos

center of the agora

 

where an eloquent poet once

orated verses before

 

the paranoid oligarchy

expelled him from the city

 

images that come to us

and nothing has really

 

changed over the eons

except the invention

 

of bullets to speed

the process of apathy

 

 

 

AMORPHOUS

 

Before I entered the uterus

I was there

smoke of a fire slowly extinguishing

wind hitting your blue window

crack of your being, a tight grip

 

song of the funeral procession

before I took the shape of life

before I choose my name

 

I was there

scent of a red rose

the bird’s first flutter

before I entered the trap of flesh

the softest wave of the sea I was

 

lone eagle on rocky promontory

from high up watching over you

before I was born I was

the shapeless freedom

companion of the infinite

a simple sigh destined

to scar your lips

 

there I was

the joyous chime of a bell

there I was

the indeterminable

 

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