Katerina Gougou | A new translation of her book “Three Clicks Left”


Three Clicks Left: first appeared as Τρία κλικ αριστερά (Kastaniotis Editions, 1978); translated from the Greek by ΔT and JC.

Here: Free May Day Book #9: Cherish x Abolish



Wage-labor capital
and imperialism as the ultimate stage of capitalism
betrayed revolutions
Hey, comrade, we miss you so much . . .
Time is worm-ridden
nuclear tests, popular fronts, brothels
(the Portuguese regime has fallen too)
hyperproductive Catholics and the mafia
have become multinationals, they forbid
love, comrade.
Like dogs on soccer fields
agents climb our stairs
anytime they want they
can yank down our pants and fuck us
peace and harmony and socialism in one country—
but comrade, if you only knew the heavy loads we’re carrying . . .
No one could endure the Moscow trials
you were left all alone
people grew weary, that’s when they were pounced on.
But you already knew this.
And so they’d fink. But you already knew this.
January 1977 in China they butchered workers
the news arrives like a poem by Mao
(with blame placed yet again on the dead), but hey, comrade
why weren’t you more careful?
It’s the same over here. People hide out.
Two Communist Parties and thousands of androgynous “revolutionaries.”
If you’re a little too loose you just switch sides.
Don’t worry though. We’ll be alright.
It’s just that sometimes I feel wiped out,
I’ve got no job, I feel like crying
and when I miss you the most
I “scold” you for being careless
I’m not ashamed to cry
and write poems
Comrade, you never betrayed me.
It’s brutal here.





Listen, I walk barefoot thru a world
I’m trying to change, leaving
bloody footprints on the ground.
Slowly but surely I run out of energy
and today Tuesday 5 o’clock it’s dark again.
The safety valves in my brain
have loosened, so be it. I feel like I’m eight again
on a boat bound for Tinos Island
and its miracles.
Angle iron, concrete, and cheap blankets
hermetically seal off people with zero
hope who lock themselves in stalls
to weep. I have to deal.
You go over everything you want to say, word
by word, and end up pale
yet determined at the meeting
waiting for the right moment
and you are indeed there, my brother
but you miss your chance—you lose your cool
you hear yourself shout:
Proletarians of the world, unite!
—everyone stares at you like they’re watching
a western, and even though a cowboy never takes
his hat off, you nervously
try to take yours off but you’ve never even
owned a hat and you stare
at your shoes, embarrassed
completely alone
at this general meeting.
But you were right. At least one person was . . .




Our life is knifings
in dirty dead-end streets
rotten teeth worn-out slogans
dressing rooms
smell of piss and disinfectant
and fetid sperm. Torn-up posters.
Up and down. Up and down Patission St.
Our life is Patission St.
Detergent that doesn’t pollute the sea
and Mitropanos who entered our lives
then Dexameni and chic women
gobbled him up.
We keep going.
All our life is craving, we travel
the same roads.
Humiliation-loneliness-despair. And vice versa.
Okay. We’re not crying. We’ve grown up.
But secretly when it rains
we suck our thumbs. And smoke.
Our life is
at conventional strikes,
snitches and patrols.
That’s why I’m telling you
next time they shoot at us
don’t run away. Stay in line.
Don’t sell out so fast, dammit.
Don’t. It’s raining. Give me a cigarette.





Now it’s quiet . . .
The ocean’s far away
and crows don’t eat liver
that’s been ruined by whiskey.
We can sleep in peace.
The Party is shattered
and Berlinguer
knit a big blanket
to throw over our class struggles.
Pipe down. In moderation is success. The class
that was supposed to change the world has gone to bed.
Now maybe we can dress up and pretend to be leaders.
Sleep . . . it’s finally quiet. Our own time.
Beddy-bye, food, or fucking.
Hoodlums pray on our pillows
and the hitmen work for us.




The cardinal points of the horizon.
Above. Below. Right. Left.
Above, the sky and those we aimed at
—at night they come and mock us in our dreams.
Below, the earth and those who aim at us
—they bury us before we’re even finished.
To the right, tourist islands banks and rock
—offering electroshock from the hands of Raquel Welch.
To the left, a Soviet ghost in a MiG-25
chases us with a big rubber stamp
—and we gather little bits of resistance
against party verdicts at the Moscow Trials.
At the corner store
I catch my breath
but even here I’ve got to pay
for the shopkeeper’s tolerance
an ex-cop selling copies of People’s Struggle
What can I buy that won’t make me a pawn,
you know what I mean?
The cardinal points of the horizon
disguised as banks pilots nurses Marxists
are chasing us. I have to make a phone call.
What’s the number . . .
Where can I stop and catch my breath.
Everywhere we go they’ve set us up.
Cops are trapped by their weapons
women by their sex
justice by its laws
organizations by their dissidents
doctors by electroshock.
Yeah, let’s see a movie at the Ilion tonight.
The protagonists there have red cheeks and
always win in the end.




May 25

One morning I’ll open the door
and go out to the street
like I did yesterday.
And all I’ll think is
a bit about my father
and a bit about the sea—each has left me a little—
and the city. The city that’s been left to rot.
And the friends who are gone.
One morning I’ll open the door
like I did yesterday, jump straight
into the fire
yelling “fascists!!”
erect barricades and throw rocks,
with a red flag
held high, shining in the sun.
I’ll throw open the door and—
not that I’m scared—
but what I need to tell you is I didn’t make it
and what you need to learn is
how to stop going into the street
without a weapon, like I did—
because I didn’t survive—
because then you’ll get
turned like me
into drops of saltwater and
pieces of childhood
and red flags.
One morning
I’ll open the door
and vanish
into a dream of revolution
into the vast solitude
of burning streets
into the vast solitude
of paper barricades
marked—don’t believe what they say!—




I feel free in these
vagabond shoes.
I turn the world upside down.
Whenever I want to
I can leave.
Like, when you drop your dentures
in a glass of water before bed
or whenever it’s time for sex
or whenever you’ve got
or union obligations
or whenever they convince you
you’re eating eggs with lemon sauce
when in fact they’re feeding you shit
In my vagabond shoes I can walk
right over your roofs—
and no, kid, not like
that idiot with the broom, Mary Poppins—
You’d know what I mean
if we were on the same wavelength
Deep down I feel sorry for you cowards
but I don’t have time to waste on you
I want nothing more to do with you
your freedom’s
in the soles of these old shoes
Eventually you’ll lick them
you’ll weep and shout “holy shit holy shit”
these shoes
never rest, they never hurry
when I finally escape this place
Pavlos or Myrto can have them, we wear the same size
they won’t wear out no matter how many nails
you dump on the roads
they’ll kick you in the face
and one day, “fellow travelers” and “rebels”
you’ll run desperately to the shoeshine stand
to get your own shoes transformed
but the polish
won’t work
no matter what you do or how much you apply.
That’s how bright our red is.




Big May sun
and heavy wind
collide on my forehead
political pamphlets in disarray
gaining weight and getting older
songs by Savvopoulos
my eyes—where are they? Where are my eyes?
Each day I learn to reject
yesterday’s beliefs.
With your last breaths you’ll shout about
Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg
Kronstadt and the myth of Sisyphus.
Flowers and colors
revolvers and homemade bombs
pointless movements—the same old plaque on my teeth—
Five gloved fingers squeeze my throat.
My friends’ dreams and my own
drive me crazy, with repeated breakdowns
distraught weeping, drunken vomiting, and loathing
suicide attempts and futile resolutions
to change my life.
An endless stream of barbiturates
keeps you and me
in a woozy balance.
And up. Then down.
Outside and around back.
The system—the rotten system is to blame—
even my cat knows it’s
the system that extracts and
spits out capital
Couples turn on each other and disappear
our comrades grow old waiting—
the kids—what big eyes they have—
riot squads, drugstores, taxis, the monopolies
the imperialism between even us
I can’t make love to you
or anybody else. For three years I’ve been unemployed.
Let’s not fool ourselves.
If we don’t sign their documents
we won’t be able to do a thing.
Night is falling.
The central committee kowtows
to the Maoists.
Night is falling.
The TV commentator
winks at me.
Night falls even further.
I’m still hanging in there.
I’m not signing.
Long live the 204th International.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s