A Poem Of That Man
by George Makris (tr. Nanos Valaoritis)
At dawn when laughter and dream have vanished,
in a wooden shack, I, under a military blanket
curse the roof that lets in gusts of wind
the blackening sky and the cries of cart drivers.
I stay there with cold eyes and without a thought
of the well and other curiosities of sleep.
When on the stairs I step accidentally on the child
its mother -- with repulsive breasts -- emerges.
Never never, I swear, will I confess the truth
about the strange pleasure I feel
stepping on its fingers with clenched teeth.
The hard pavement and the calm girl holding a basket
entice my eyes and pull me along hastening
towards the morning meal full of flies and curses,
and the waiter who accidentally gouged out his eye.
An old bookseller impoverished, without memory
I drool and my eyes suffer from cataracts.
My clothes stink and I have a hard time urinating
I'm a broken sword and a sacrificed rooster
I'm the wine turned sour and the rotten egg.
Even the maid servants call me a filthy old toilet,
an aged bookseller taking his morning stroll
going straight to work with painful kidneys.
I, old bookseller, ill and unpretentious
without a thought in my head, God forbid,
sold an antique from Venice to a captain;
God bless this gracious captain.
In my youth I studied to be a lifeguard
a whole six months, I poured over elements of anatomy
submitted to strict exams, I was a hell of a lad
I made the rounds in a lifeboat wearing a cap
I saved those drowning on public beaches
Oh! Oh! the beautiful and tough occupation
when I smelt danger patrolling those shores,
the red clouds foreboding wind.
The red horn of my gramophone
puts me in a trance me when I stare into it
like the open mouth of a patient at the dentist.
Then they find the occasion to steal my books.
The red clouds and my mustaches inside a box. . . .
These drowsy middays and suffocating evenings
a bookseller man with little knowledge
I have no need to visit the notary and I'm not afraid
of anything except the wrath of God upon the world.
An old and ailing merchant, I rise with the red clouds
up toward the Kingdom of Heaven.