With the pockets on my wooden overcoat all stitched-up.
I walk repeatedly. Repeatedly I walk.
I carry nothing. I have nothing to hide
I have nothing to stick my hands in
I walk with my hands in the rain
on a silken rope — an umbilical cord — that connects heaven and earth what’s above with what’s below.
I go on
with short-circuited searchlights with no safety net under me.
I walk absurdly in inverted logic but righteous and decisive
to put into practice all I have thought about to put into practice what I’ve written.
I stretch the rope a little more forward I proceed one more step farther.
Unknown mysterious planets approach my head.
Seagulls and astral fighter craft follow me as a supersonic vessel.
It’s raining down on the bridges of the earth …
On Black man’s New Orleans.
It rains striped rain Stournara Zaimi Arachovis Benaki Streets.
It comes obliquely down on my mug posing in dirty store windows. I look at me.
My agents have carved two lines on my face
they show me laughing.
I walk surrounded by fists by angry fires by booing and hurrahs.
The sorry ballpark tiers urge me on
to nail the goal in the nets make it 3-1.
The premium one press me tight in a foul game
now I’ve got to get in their nets together with the ball.
I walk like a Christian among the antichrists like a Black atheist in a Ku Klux Klan
I’m deeply saddened. A sadness with no name.
A sadness that was never written about before.
When a scorpion is surrounded
it stabs itself with the sting of its tail it stabs its own body.
I’m slipping … deteriorating … to centuries of silence
to centuries of glaciers.
I’m swimming in the snow-covered squares of the earth.
I’m swimming among tall trees where
catatonic hanged men float bobbing their heads.
I’m swimming with quick strokes. If I stop for a second the snow quietly treacherously
rises to my heart.
I’m walking on my back with quick strokes the iron ball of my disreputable reputation has
blistered my foot
the colored glass pieces of the editions flow in by blood legions aim silently at my brain
I breathe … slowly … asthmatically …
The air all around smells of singed sideburns.
Piles of the ill-matched shoes of lynched homos forever block out the landscape.
I’m outta here.
No one will ever wear them again.
Now I’m impotent. I’m s c a r e d. I’m also just like them. I’m wasted too.
… My nostrils flutter anxiously …
The air all around has a police-like sexual odor.
The wind brings the barking of German police …
Now I must pull down the main switch to save myself.
Now I must burn
the fake hesitation of self-preservation so I can live.
To suppress the suppression. To go on …
I go on.
I dip my finger in DEATH
I write in the air with yellow
I want-I can-I am.
I go on. Here. Down on earth.
A bastard child of earthlings.
Of this obscene inhuman frame-up where nobody dies of old age.
From bandage on my head again the same
sane blood is dripping again.
I twist I break my fingers backwards. I break them.
Again. Again self-mutilation.
I’ll never write again. My hands become iron hooks.
Metallic marking pens. DECEASED I write.
I ring the bells with a sound of a metallic crossbow.
THERE IS NO ALICE LIVING HERE ANYMORE I ring.
I open. I open my stride faster. Faster.
Even faster. I open up I go on.
The fingers rise by themselves from the earth’s crematoria.
I start raining raining raining I change I rain
I transubstantiate I rain I become rain rain rain
Stripped metallic rain iron rain
SLEDGEHAMMER CROWBAR CROWBAR CROWBAR SLEDGEHAMMER.
I place the mold of my face at the center of bulletproof store windows.
I shatter them.
Piles of ill-matched shoes / empty stadium seats / frozen floor tiles /
useless passports / syringes to nowhere /
I’m rain I’m answer I’m proof and I want everything
I want everything back
I can’t be caught an invisible ring protects me I’m going gold dust I’m the colors I’m a little
I’m the negro blues I’m New Orleans
I’m a boy warrior woman I am woman and boy I’m unsafe air in the lifelessness of the
It’s me the poems deep under the earth which is shaking.
I can. I can. I write again.
I won’t be mutilated
My fingers have caught the fire of catharsis.
I walk. In these lousy old pants.
With my senses all fired-up.
I am I want I can.
Because I can I can repeatedly I can love …
The Wooden Overcoat (1982)
AND THAT’S HOW I’LL GO AWAY
The markings of time, months, place, year, in what and to whom are they useful…
Athens, September 1991
Will it get to the addressee?
He’s very far and I’ve no reason to be writing monologue poems. I’ve grown up.
Have I grown up?
Do you remember me? They call me Katerina.
Here the winter walks, noiselessly, he’s barefoot, I don’t know why. Maybe
so as not to scare me, or maybe for the opposite.
I’m simply waiting.
My hair’s grown longer, the middle finger of my left hand is broken and a big burn scar from a chopper-bike exhaust still remembers.
You’re right. The feet remember.
You’ve asked me how I’m doing. How is Myrto. Socrates. Margarita.
I don’t know, Pavlo. I don’t know.
I think they got tired. Their limit up to this point. It’s their right.
The tabloid ass-wipes wrote about them three clicks to the abyss, old
photographs of me from Police Central files, Gogou the high-caliber, star criminal,
for Katerina’s eyes wrote the “progressive” papers — ha! — and my entire bio,
that also taken from Security. November 17 involvement, junkie, Dafni, Myrto,
mom in an old people’s home, Tasios movie director, Exarcheia, actress, they
forgot the poems and what we call social struggle … Now tear her apart.
Who?… It’s natural, the Margarites, the Afroules and the entire gang, since
all of them are friends, to have agreed to make me a scapegoat. SOCRATES?
There were times I was angry at you, thinking you the beginning of my
troubles, up to the final collapse. Then I’d see you being so young, so far from
home, so fragile, that I just couldn’t stand it. And me being drowned for centuries,
fallen in love beyond reason — because I thought it would be dishonest otherwise —
but it had always been with those who shook me deeply for they were bringing
With the boy I fell in love when we were going to Navarino and he tried
to walk arm in arm with me… I didn’t think much of it, and, let me tell you I’d
drop anyone who wanted to go hand in hand, I was annoyed. Sharply I pushed
his hand away. Later that night, I remembered his neighborhood, Toumba, his
origins, the broken family, his dignity which they’d fucked up for him, the terror
of insecurity, the betrayal, not even a cigarette, and the need he felt to protect me,
so much so that he fell on the blade right to the heart. He was handsome. One
night, both of us drunk, at Margarita’s house, we started passionately making
love. At some point, I don’t know how to say it, at some high moment, I felt
nothing. And I told him: “I can’t.” He stopped for a moment and then he said:
But we had started, and we hadn’t stopped wanting each another. That’s it.
So I don’t want to believe you really said on the phone that I was trying to
make money by publicizing “my life” … If a strange bird comes and drops a
huge golden egg on my hands, well, fine. Otherwise, barefoot I was born and
that’s how I’ll go away. Now I’m looking for the boy’s attorney, whom I don’t
know and he’s only twenty-seven. He was going to be tried again for a police car they’d
blown up and for wounding a cop. When they told me the next day—it was twelve
noon when I found out, I was watering the plants at Margarita’s place – that the
Police was looking for me, and they kept running it every ten minutes on the tv
bulletins — as a fugitive? …- I went to the bosses, I gave my particulars. They
were hauling me around in a copper car from idiot to idiot, I was searching
allover myself to see if I had anything sharp on me to stick him. I didn’t. Only keys,
and I thought I might stick the pointy one of the Athens place in his eyes. I asked
to see him. At first they said no. Then, after some ass kissing about movies, as if
they didn’t know, they said “only from the little window.” They opened it and
I only said to the boy: LOOK AT ME.
And he said to me: “Don’t you love me, Katerina? …”
But that’s enough up to here for both of us.
It’s good that you have put together the group and even better that you’re
getting to the studio on October 1st. When is your birthday? Eh? I’m glad
about our talk, as much as that’s possible with me of course. I know you love
me. I do too. Say hello to the friend who talks the way we talked.
When will you come?
The Last Poems / The Seventh Book (2002)
KATERINA GOGOU | NOW LET’S SEE WHAT YOU’RE GONNA DO
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK BY A.S.