The Seven Men of Eptagonia and Other Poems

The Seven Men of Eptagonia

(with interjections from my grandfather)

In a small town up the breast of the uppermost land mound there is a land of Seven Corners where - They do - there are seven men who like to sit on the seventh corner of the seven bendy hills - They Do! - positioning their white plastic chairs just within the little divots of the cobblestone road that runs around the bend and through - Oh Yes! It is right through - the central line which every map through these said “uppermost land mounds” points the rogue and curious driver in the direction of. And these men with their white plastic chairs with the feet just within the little divots of the cobblestone road that runs around the bend and through will - oh you mind yourself they get quite - will not move for any traveller that hurtles around the bend at designated 50 km/ph and in fact they will get quite irate if you have hurtled round that bend. But after 5pm gives their shoulders relief, and the ouzo has flowed - Opa! (drinks) - or indeed the KEO, if you come hurtling around that bend and through they will, instead of yelling, simply move their white plastic chairs in from the road, out into the road, in from the road, out into the road with only inward philosophy - it is their road, don't you dare take it from them - 


In Zoe’s house you cannot starve: she has made friends with the mice and rats 

and feeds them cheese so they’ll come back to watch her brew the bitter coffee. 

She pulls the melitzana out from under her back and, stooping, says, insisting

You kill me if you do not eat I grew this with my very bones. 

The lemons too, the walnut cake, the grapes, the men, the passion fruits. 

Except she says five sentences more and I get by on 

‘ευχαριστώ’1 and then ‘πολύ, πολύ, πολύ2, I say, but she will never know,

 How if I could, I’d feed Zoe, and if I had the words to fill her 

there would still never be enough. So I write now that in Zoe’s house 

In Zoe’s house, you cannot starve. 

1 thank you , 2 very much very much very much

The Hollow of the Olive Tree 

Somewhere stolen down the route that led 

across four seas (med, tyrh, chan, biscay), 

and back before I came into the 

world, a man did what men claim to do 

and loved a woman: Marrikou. 

She hid amongst an olive grove – 

Vasilis, ‘king’ or ‘regal born’ the 

tree he makes alike in song 

far more than precious Marikkou. 

‘That olive tree, I bought it’

my great7 grandfather 

wrote and I cannot help but ask 

a mirrored question too 

Do you love him? 

Why on Earth do you love him, 

Oh Marikkou, Marikkou? 

[disclaimer: I am in fact related to Dimitris Lipertis, a famous Cypriot poet, on my mothers side. He is my great great great great great great great grandfather. He was, by all records, a very good poet. The issue comes with the translations of his work, all sentimentality is lost; his poems were not poems but songs in written form. Marikkou also is a delineation of Maria and serves as a stand-in for women as a whole in his poem. An interesting fact when we consider the constant subordination of women in the traditional Greek household. Nevertheless, I am bitter that I will never hear him sing them. And, I am bitter like lemons that it was not I that longed for Marikkou.]

The Welsh Sensibility

Amongst her dwelling of witchy tins and fragile 

ramekins of soupy yesterdays past, 

she lured us, all at once beguiling and mild. 

Offering unspoken manna with her hands 

and pointing, tasting, the syrupy elixirs, 

she brought us further with her kindness in 

and to the back of the small store of her life.

She said (I think) 

These are by my palms and fingers, all mine. 

And from that voice you and I 

bewitched, would have drank anything, 

tasted whatever gifts the kind 

Hecate had to offer – and also by politeness – 

So we should have thought that 

She would take advantage of my lack of understanding

and your Welsh sensibility 

as we giggling picked out bits of dried bulgur wheat from our teeth, 

walking away from her spell hut, hearing laughter, 

and googling 

“Goat food Cyprus.”, 

“What to do if an old lady just fed you goat food for a laugh.”


(a poem about a war my family never fought, but sat in the wake of like a duck on a pond)

Among the rubble,

Alexi’s mother had tutted at the Toyota garage 

gleaming like a half-dead baton of anger 

And Alexi used to smile 

because he remembered the day the lights turned off 

and T O Y O T A 

became T O Y O 

which became T O Y

and he had wanted so badly to reach up 

and touch the luminous signal gleaming in 

the desert dawn – but one soldier had come 

with an orca against his chest, bleeding 

and told him to get down or else 

the orca’s black and white mouth 

would end up against his chest instead. 

There were no weeds then,

Only spiked cactus fruit and needles in the palm 

Outside of Jasmin’s Leather shop. 

Once, Alexi stretched to touch the things and came back 

hands sawtoothed, eyes wet with conscience 

but his mother could not help – 

She only sat amongst the rubble

and wept for Bellapais.

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