The poem Passio, below, is from the collection of the
same title (Passio), published by Flarestack
Publications, editor Charles Johnson, ISBN No. 1 900397
From this station I see a wildness of sugar
and green-crossed shutters
sweet as nightingales burning in forests,
shaded blue of diamonds on water
a hot, dancing whore with promise of succour
when a pine compromises the ocean
with hair of a woman and teeth of a minotaur
with sugar-cubed offerings of rooftops and swallows
tonguing beauties and ants on balconies.
A harbour lies like a woman's thigh
with boats moored against strong limbs of land.
Skiathos, with your cigarette ends and bins
and your succulents battling with Archangels and Moses.
Ela ela lama sabacthani!
Your aerials of electric goodness and rapid voices
pick their way through groves of oysters.
Dionysos sits laughing on top of the clocktower,
his hands haul the bells of the hours that haunt.
With oleander beside me and Thanatos before me
a surge beneath and a belief in hunger and hope.
Pines are not pines here on this island,
cicadas are not crickets, but a calling of madness
that licks the land like a cat in the morning.
Your white-tongued ships
slip into the Aegean
like a lover's tongue easily sipping
the juice of his honey
like a bed in the sea and a fish and a moment
and a cranking of chains and Poseidon is calling
my god Thanatos
my god Eros.
In pink confetti and bins overflowing
in the soft slip-slop of sandals and moorings
in the slow, sway of gulls following behind me
waiting to pick at my bones and my eyes.
I have touched the ice beneath the heat
of this island that will always haunt me
in its lamplight and flowers dried grass
shrivelled life in a land like a woman's
hazed-blue gown of evening.
In Dimitrios' hand on the tiller of my soul
I cry for the armies that meet inside me
like a mad dog howling as it snaps at the ocean
under the composition of pines
under the limbs of gods
beside a pebbled beach
like toasted marshmallows
where sewage and rose petals
float into the water.
In the distance a man lies on a cloud
in the distance
Ela! Ela! Yassou, yassou!
In the insistent burn of the engines of gods
that a man sometimes touches when he raises a woman
from his hand in a moment of madness
blue heat becomes a blanket of silence that breathes
beneath the incessant cries of
and the walled-chimes of bells that call to the sky
cool cool down
cool cool down
doves croon their own song of evening
the gratings of geraniums
the notices and orange lotus'd boats.
A man on a bench wears black. Reads a book. Looks up for
his rose. She is there, I want to tell him, but
am afraid to disturb his longing. It would only offend.
An offering to a stranger must be given with caution.
There is a wash of walled sea, here. There is a soothing
breath that comes from the pines.
My mouth tastes itself. It has not forgotten the madness
of the west. It cannot forget the taste of burnt saints.
A white umbrella against a blue table waits for rain.
Now I am at the level of succulents
my body is Cleopatra's aloes --
a dangerous place this!
A temptation of sap and spines.
A long, row of white rocks point like the finger of a
whose knuckles have calcified with salt.
This finger will never scratch its left arm.
This finger will never point at the sun.
This finger is frozen by heat and melons.
This finger is a line of sugar cubes, piled by the hands
of a god crazed
with gripping his mind.
This thumb blocks out the sun.
Apollo is setting behind me. The night owls of Skiathos
will soon surround me.
In a slow wave of squid-inked blue the heat refuses to
There are warnings here, nailed like drops of blood cut
from a child's finger. Rubies trapped in white-ironed
They are there to prevent an accident of fate when a
pilot is Ouzo'd and a man steers his small vessel home
with his unerring foot.
Oatgrasses scratch my back.
If I was a horse I would turn and graze
instead I sit writing words
my pen an extension of my body
as though, a woman, I have grown a penis.
A small boat tugs at its moorings, like a dog hungry for
There is a scaled-down ecstasy of peace here
(if only I can avoid the ants)
(if only I can resist parentheses)
tongues of aloe vera
whose juice heals
pierce the sky.
A wastepaper bin designed to look in place
a boy kick-boxes an aloe vera leaf
a van collects waste
on the calcified finger
my back is still scratched.
Nine is a fig tree.
Nine is not there
it is here.
Nine is a configuration of hands
holding unripe figs
green as a boy's new fallen balls.
Through the fig's fingered leaves a glimpse of boats.
To the right, a small yellow broom grows from the rock
a young girl's hair
her head thrown back to the Aegean like a broken melon.
The tongue of God licks the land in the saliva of his
Here is a forked tree
the oleander's pink talks to me.
Is the design of plants in the pattern of humans?
Boats thread through small islands
eager to be in a wider ocean.
I am no longer green amber.
I am no longer in the land of a crazed god.
I do not feel the forsaken terror of heat.
The sun no longer tears at my back like a lion
evening slips into me like a lover.
I am nearly home now
in the fierce shape of aloes.
I am a reminder of the shyness of swans
aloes would not grow without my voice.
I am almost home.
I can feel it in the soft wash of foam.
I can taste it in the cappucino of your mouth.
I can see it in the dance of Syrtaki'd pines
who stand naked under stars
listening to tourists.
I can hear it in the music Zeus has chosen
to play on his juke box.
There are nights in white satin waiting
if I can believe in a Twelfth Station
here on this island.
The boat remains
the small bay of laughter
tongue of a tower
in the Cafeneion beside me a song is ending
and I love you.
A hand rises beneath me as the land does the ocean
and if I never return to this island of shadows
I will remember the agony of sunshine
and the long, slow drop of honey drunk from the thread
of wild woodbine.