Letter of Mathios Paschalis

The New York skyscrapers will never know the freshness

            that comes down on Kifisia

but the two chimneys I liked so much when I was abroad

            just behind the cedars return again

when I see the two cypress trees over your familiar

            church

that has the paintings of the damned being tortured

            in fire and brimstone.

All March long rheumatism played havoc on your beautiful hips

            and in the summer you went to Aidipsos.

Gods! how life struggles to just go by, you could say like

           a swollen river going through the eye of a needle.

The heat is burning to the night, the stars gift us with midges

           I drink bitter lemonades and am still thirsty;

Moon and movie theater, phantoms and the suffocating

           helpless harbor.

Verina, life has ruined us and the Attic skies and

           the intellectuals clambering in their heads

and the landscapes that ended up posing

           because of the drought and hunger

like the young men who spent all their souls

           that they may put on a monocle

like the young girls—sunflowers swallowing their heads

           that they may turn into lilies.

The days go by slowly, my days circulate inside the clocks

           dragging the second hand along.

Just remember how we turned breathless in the narrow streets

           that the car headlights wouldn’t gut us.

The thought of a foreign land encircled us and enclosed us

           like a net and

we were leaving with a sharp knife concealed inside us and you said

         “Harmodios and Aristogeiton”.

Lower your head that I can see you, but even if I saw you

           I would try to look farther.

What is a man’s value, what does he want and how will he

           justify his existence at the Second Coming?

Ah! I wish I found myself alone with the sea and the wind

          on a beaten up ship in the Pacific Ocean

alone and with neither a wireless nor strength to

          fight the elements.