3 Poems by Zoe Karathanasi

THE LONGCASE CLOCK

He took a long last look at his little girl 

with the daisy in her mouth, a grin larger than life –

cyan and jade coming out softer and brighter 

than Kodachrome – and closed the door.

When she reached the house, everything looked the same

except for the silent wood case on the wall.

The old clock was fully wound up but it didn’t swing.

It took her three attempts to set it back in beat.

                                 *

He opened the clock-case and stopped it with his hand,

as chilled as the frost-kissed artichokes

he harvested that day in the field.

He knew that stopping it is better,

when you’re going away for a week or more,

far better than letting it run down and stop itself.

THE BLACKBIRD HOUR

How those big Thracian women fitted into their small

straw chairs, it’s a wonder. But sliding out of their houses one 

by one like spectral apparitions of the blackbird hour,

arranging their chairs on the pavement, they made you think 

of an Amazon gathering after a day of battle. Only this time,

instead of their bows, spears, peltas and their labrys,

they’d lay their cups and saucers before their smoky eyes –

where a chariot, hair worn in a bun and a thick, muddy bed 

around the handle would recount my grandmother’s descent 

to Athens, her dying husband, the uncalculated distance.  

On Sundays, you could see them in church, their outsize bums

squeezed into stiff-necked pews, pious-looking save a slant

witchy look noticed only by the initiated. I call upon them to caress 

the inside of my skull, those spectral apparitions of the blackbird hour.

LE GUEULOIR*, ETRETAT

i.m. Andrew Smith

I come here to grieve. The place is February quiet.

I try to picture you ready for spring. I linger

a few days for your second coming. There’s no such thing.

Cathedral shaped and gleaming white, our rented house 

used to be a gueuloir. A small theatre for writers to howl.

It’s dead silent now. 

Bird’s nest ferns are sprawling at the entrance 

like green fires. The glint of Needle Rock and Porte d’Aval 

might catch your eye. 

I stand at the doorway – nothing like the open sky and sea

and the herring gulls with the red mark on their beaks, 

their long-drawn cries over the sheer cliffs        

anchored nowhere

Le Gueuloir, from the French verb ‘gueuler’ (‘to yell’) is a technique Gustave Flaubert used in order to perfect his work. Flaubert recited sentences aloud to detect writing defects such as repetitions or assonances.

About the contributor

Zoe Karathanasi is a Greek-born poet who currently lives in Paris, France. She has an MA in Poetry with distinction from the Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work appeared or is forthcoming in various online/print publications, such as Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter's House, Tears in the Fence and Under the Radar.

Related Articles

2 poems in translation by Cindy Rinne

Cindy Rinne is the author of several books, including 'Knife Me Split Memories' (Cholla Needles Press), 'Letters Under Rock with Bory Thach', (Elyssar Press), Mapless with Nikia Chaney (Cholla Needles Press),

2 poems by Roy Liran

2 Poems from Roy Liran

2 poems by Gale Acuff

Gale Acuff is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university
English in the US, China, and Palestine

More Like This

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer in the translation of Glenn Hubbard

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s poems retain the flavor of romantic love, and Glenn Hubbard’s translation daintily captures the splendours of nature and the beauty of the beloved in the original poetry.

Poety by Gábor Gy Gyukics

Gábor Gy Gyukics is a Budapest born poet, translator, author of 11 books of poetry in five languages

Poetry by Rafael Mendes

Poet Rafael Mendes is a member of NIC writers group at The Irish Writers Centre.

maintaining social distance through the language of longitudes – An International, Multilingual Collaboration.

Clara Burghelea became involved with an international cadre of poets and translators to form a community of creatives during a time of lockdown.

Miriam Calleja International Poetry

Miriam believes that poetry and prose are tools for storytelling that encourage unity. She has great faith in collaboration as a key to communication.