Aunt Haris

Pattakos[1] is alive – Pattakos wakes up at a quarter to five at dawn – to swim and stretch – tonight he is giving a talk at Kalypso Hotel – in Anavyssos – the retired army officers club is getting ready – they are now polishing the antlers of the embalmed reindeers – they are lighting up the wedding reception hall and taking the old porcelain out of the attics – with the two-headed petrified apple tree family crest – and the ever promising goat – at night the court phalluses will meet up – ex-full-of-promise half backs of the local team – barkers at the fur shop ‘In league’ –

they will lift the blue-and-white shaped hopes of the nation proudly – whispering ‘Three blind mice’ or ‘London Bridge’ or some other children’s

lullaby of post-civil war aid –

only that you shall never grow old

nor see this city stagger

exhausted head down – in its corroded mythology –

a wannabe[1] Jerusalem acting as if she’s someone special

to the consumptive and the amputated

distributing expired cod liver oil to catechism schools

crusts from stale sacramental bread

to the city’s  merciful soup kitchens

a bowl of lentils – a fucking bowl of lentils –

for some beauty – who was unfortunate – and in our own century –

t o l d y o u a l r e a d y

it’s hard now to see you – someone has left a telephone line on in

my mind – at night it vibrates and does not let me sleep –


George Prevedourakis, extract from Part IV, Kleftiko (2013), trans. Konstantina Georganta in Three Long Poems in Athens: Erēmē Gē-Perama-Kleftiko(Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018).


[1] ‘wannabe’ appears in English in the source text.

[1] Stylianos Pattakos (1912-2016) was a Greek military officer and one of the principals of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 that overthrew the government in a coup d’état on 21 April 1967.