Thursday, January 22, 2015

With the people from the bridge (poena damni) Dimitris Lyacos

Dimitris Lyacos

With the people from the bridge
(poena damni)
Dimitris Lyacos
Shoestring Press 2014
Translation: Shorsha Sullivan
ISBN 978-1-910323-15-1

“And always, night
and day in the tombs
and in the mountains he was crying
and cutting himself with stones...”

Lyacos's writings speak universally.  The Greeks are familiar with “mysterious.” Particularly, when a situation, conundrum, experience cannot be explained, a Greek-- minded person might exclaim, it is a mystery! Mystery has become synonymous with Orthodoxy and saints. Are there saintly writers of poetry? Yes. Dimitris Lyacos is not one of them; he is not a saint (at least I don't think he is.) He is mysterious or enigmatic. His poetry is real, really a long conversation with who we have become as a community. “With the people from the bridge,” his third book in his trilogy, even the word trilogy enlightens the space between words and reader. His third book brings us under a bridge where 'others' inhabit the unseen spaces most of us never look into or hear the rumble from characters:

“...That. Afterwards, though, comes the day
they come outside
you wait for them in the house.
Same day every time.
Sometimes in the morning when
you wake up it is as if you are stuck
and you prise yourself off them...”

The play/poem/cross genre, post modern Homeric tale begins arched under a bridge, just as classical theater surrounds the actors, Lyacos creates a beginning dialog with a chorus; “Sometimes more so. Like voices somehow, more or less. It is inside you.” All the characters, voices, try to be heard. Presently, I review very few books. Because most poetry books are the same dull energy. Unexpectedly, Shorsha Sullivan, the translator of this book of poems, asked me if I would write a review. I knew I would. I wrote this review because Lyacos is one of my favorite writers. Yes, being Greek adds to my gratitude for such a poet who does not come across the ocean that often any more. I exaggerate, as I am prone to do, yet, this trilogy is masterful and comes to us only once in a lifetime:

“Time passed.
I went out again and fetched some water.
A sip. Helps my stomach, it soothes me
and I can lay down for a little.
In sleep again, your voice coming strong.
I couldn't. I stood up
and was banging on the lid until it broke.
I took it out. I puffed her and turned her on her side.
I lifted her up. She fell again. Again.
Time passed.
In the end I got her out. I let her down and
went to see the blanket in case the wind
had blown it away. I went again and laid down
beside her. I was tired.
Enough light. A white worm, long.
A finger digging all by itself.
Leave something for me.
Something will be left in the end.
A tooth from her mouth.
Something for me
a tooth


There is a sound sense when read aloud. The poem enters our mind as a good poem ought to, it becomes our mind for the duration of the reading. We live there. The ear does it. We have a  need for myth and more than myth.  In his poetry we hear  about places we might not be privy to otherwise. The reader will be delving into this book as they would a good novel. Daily reading:

“  he turned on his back. Opens his mouth.
He wanted to say something.
He fell again. Lifted his head a little.
He sees I am with him
and then falls, for a while holds me
by the throat
and then
the flame
cleansed. We return together.
We will be there in a while.
Stay and rest a little.
On the way it was
a bit from his chest...”

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor: Wilderness House Literary Review
Reviewer: Cervena Barva Press

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