Artan

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

‘We stink! Only hot water can wash the dirt off,’ Bekim says to Artan, dusting down his work clothes. Artan is sipping water from a communal tap outside the shower and toilet block in the park.

The park is situated on the highest point of the town overlooking the Corinthian Gulf. A multicoloured bed of roses lines one perimeter and tall conifers and fir trees are scattered over the grass. Asphalt paths, edged with wooden benches, lead to the ornamental iron gates located on each side of its four perimeters. A small bridge stretches across a lake hidden by pampas grass and shrubs. The townsfolk, who live in the surrounding high rise apartments, gather in the park to walk, talk and relax. The boys find an empty bench and Artan twists off the caps of two bottles of beer and offers one to Bekim. They take long gulps and wipe their mouths with the sleeves of their work clothes.

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Nineties Suite

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

BURLY GRIZZLED MAN

Burly grizzled man with foreign designation seeks compensation
Suffered work place accident troubling hurt recalls healthy youth in village of birth
Life unfolds within the claws of legal and medical dispute his character in disrepute
Three members sit aloof listen peruse submissions scribble question direct interrupt deliberate
Why can’t they anglicise their names? A senior member berates
Time to do something for Australians too! Another skeptic asserts
If I were king for a day I’d grant to all!
The cynical majority considers him a shirker unlike the dissenter who affirms the injured worker

Administrative Review

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Sprig of Silver Wattle

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

Fur encumbered women swing designer label bags
hold sprigs of silver wattle push into Caffé on Condotti
walls lined with burgundy damask wallpaper
settle at marble topped tables seated under ornate gilded mirrors and
framed memorabilia – Goethe Stendhal Milosz Liszt Keats Shelley Byron
heavy curtains cocoon grey suited man who fondles his young blonde lover
the resident artist Baccellieri sits alongside the espresso machine winks at the couple
he wears silver glasses shabby hat and a thick woolen coat draped with a long red scarf
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Spring of Wisdom

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

swathed in stone gargantuan imposing blindfolded
she beckoned me through the University portals
into the quadrangle surrounded by the expansive portico and
erudite grey stone buildings
busts of male scholars her heirs
scientists doctors philosophers
serpent at her feet symbol of medicine
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A Torrent of Angry Words

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

Torrential rains and winds thrash us as we alight from the bus and negotiate oncoming traffic.  Cars – windscreen wipers on full speed, headlights full beam, begrudgingly slow down to allow us to cross to the hospital.  There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings.  As we reach the other side of the road and step on to walkway, the umbrellas snap in our hands.  We wade through spreading puddles of mud, splashed by water from the footsteps of other commuters.  I fear slipping so, head down and bags tucked under my left arm, I tread warily.  By the time the warmth of the hospital heating hits us our clothes are dripping wet.  It is 8.45 am.  We left home from  a nearby township at 7.40 am.

We resolutely stride down the corridor to the Oncology Unit situated in a major, University linked, public hospital, determined to secure our position in the inevitable queue.  I drop the health insurance book and latest blood test results on the nurse’s counter.  I then hurry down the corridor, around the corner and grab a hand scrawled numbered pink prescription ticket, left in a makeshift holder outside Office 1, to secure a place in the prescription queue.

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I’ll leave you now so you can read

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

i.m. M.D.R. 1908 – 1986

Perched on hearth’s edge we sip mountain tea in silent companionship
as flames sculpt the olive tree stump   slowly reduced to charcoal
like her black dress & scarf tied over her grey hair & pallid face
mother in law   Maria lived through poverty   hunger   wars   miscarriages
birthed six live infants   laboured on the land   harvesting   grapes   olives   corn
gathering wild vegetables   cooking   baking   spinning   weaving   cleaning
Eau de Cologne a luxury   Should widows wear perfume?  she’d asked after I bathed her
minimal primary education   reliance on the spoken word   unlike my pen that rekindles
village experiences – the procession of goats that paused & stared at the stranger reading
in the square   disheveled farmers who asked Why do you write?

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Epistrophe: The Return

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

charred tomb parked outside police station
blackened mudguard shattered tinted windscreen
hang over cliff’s edge opposite soccer stadium wall
farewell seascape of his youth

parents died without seeing their émigré son again
he served rich diners in New York saw the twin towers fall
dreamed of retirement reunited with siblings
and friends in village of his birth

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Amulet

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

Years pass prise open tomb of migration
Amulet brown roughshod stitched leather
Nestles in palm of aspiration
Flaminia buffeted across seas Piraeus to Fremantle stormy weather

Amulet brown roughshod stitched leather
Loving maternal hands prepared it in sorrow
Flaminia buffeted across seas Piraeus to Fremantle stormy weather
Her son leaves for the antipodes tomorrow

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Chestnuts

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

chestnuts brood in embers of cynicism
hiss their anger

weeds engulf railway lines
supplanted by unfinished road works
lone cinema hotel closed
denuded shops plastered with yellow For Rents signs
hospital staff unpaid closure rumoured

decaying rural properties entice foreign takeover
austerity measures elderly recall famine
hooded masses protest politicians grovel to EU
youthful gloom lines coffee bars overlooking
the bay of Nafpaktos

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Lives Momentarily Entwined

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Loula S. Rodopoulos

lives momentarily entwined

construction of fountain – Harmony Square

Athens hub – celebratory memorial – end of Civil War 1951
brimming escalators link underground railway station

commuters in peak hour crush

roaring motorbikes – cars – buses
ceaseless merry – go – round

scurrying shoppers ignore buskers

beggar squats on footpath
traces her soul in nicotine ash

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The Pine Tree

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“Like a windstorm
Punishing the pine trees,
Love shakes my heart.”
With apologies to Sappho

Laden with snow dumps, undisciplined branches,
entangled with sparking electricity wires, overhang the balcony,
camouflage the distant seascape,
plead to be pruned.
Earthquake cracked exterior, overwhelmed by its alpine girth,
thirsts for a coat of paint.
Underfoot, scattered brown cones slip and slide in a bed of needled slush-
wait to extinguish loneliness in the charred fireplace.
In his dream Pithea prophesized disaster, like Sappho’s pine, in a windstorm
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Salon

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For Elly
Iakovidou Street
Athens

Morning cacophony escorts friends through diesel fumes,
on trolleys in overload, over sleazy footpaths ready to implode ,
under bitter orange trees
to her door where coffees brews
Tortes and pastries await
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Until Next Time!

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UNTIL NEXT TIME![i]

-All things vanish.  For each a time is due.
-All things remain.  I go.  Now it’s left to you.
Odysseus Elytis 1998[ii]

Dawn mist rouses him,
flings open iced shutters
embraces chilled air.
He drives to town
past cemetery gate.

Waking streets,
enticed by aromas of baking bread,
pungent coffee bean roasters,
repelled by fish stalls drowned in flies
slaughtered goats hooked on high,
pause to read death notices.

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Anecdotes after reading Ritsos

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[audio: http://diasporic.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/petw.mp3]

Loula S. Rodopoulos

They sit at the table on the balcony, stripping virgin vine stems of leaves, buds and stringy bits.  Their voices, with the rustling of the sprouting pine needles, echo in the breeze across the platiea – until the final stem is stripped. Then the aromas of the boiling saucepan – aniseed, garlic, spring onion, olive oil dressing – that blends with the breeze.

She walks down the slope.  A rugged vista of vineyards, wild grasses, yellow sparti, pine and conifer trees engulf her – lift her to the horizon where she floats over mountain peaks and sea until she finds herself perched on the cemetery rock where she penned her first poem.

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Saltwater in the Ink: Voices from the Australian Seas

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Prof. Loula S. Rodopoulos

Book review: Lucy Sussex, Saltwater in the Ink:
Voices from the Australian Seas
(Australian
Scholarly Publishing, 2010)

Lucy Sussex gives public voice to the private thoughts, experiences and observations of selected nineteenth-century seafarers to the Australian colony. These seafarers kept a record of their voyage either as letters to loved ones left behind in England or in journal entries. The white glossy cover of Saltwater in the Ink, composed of a chair covered in red patterned fabric, a red quill, a laced decorated fan, pewter cup and barrel, is aesthetically appealing and invites exploration. Each selection is uniquely titled to suggest a link with such artefacts, with an introduction and afterword that provide a context to the seafarer’s account. For example the Ritchie sisters are presented under the title ‘A Battered Pewter Cup’ and Mary Isabella Cameron under the title of ‘A Girl’s Golden Bracelet’.

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Let Them Burn!

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What we expect from poets is that they should avenge evil [1]

Prof. Loula S. Rodopoulos

Let them burn! Let them burn!
Let them pay! Let them pay!

Grey suited   stooped man  carries red rose

Stadiou Street Wednesday 5 th May
ordered to work, union syndicates claim
Marfin Egnatia Bank a burnt out shell
molotov cocktails thrown

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