Signs of The Times


N.N. Trakakis
Translated from original by Tasos Leivaditis

And the episodes continued with minor variations, the epidemic advanced,

confused messages, we didn’t know who they had left out,
the saints in fear took refuge in the calendars, scarecrows no longer took off their hats
____when the trains passed by,
large membranes appeared under the women’s arms,
in the evening they perched on the furniture and at night the bread became puffed up with conceit
because of its future casualties – I would babble about old biographies,
incredible journeys would lull me to sleep in the apartment, but not without some effort,
____otherwise I would throw a little sugar to the flies
as they too lost the game – and in the morning secret gestures with the butcher,
____ever since that time they called me a pig,
acts of charity committed hurriedly like crimes, lowly jobs are lucrative for poets
and no. 2, the little goody two-shoes of our childhood days now goes around fucking
____the notaries.

And O sleep, mass counterfeiting machine, that we may launder the day.

Translator’s Note

This is a poem, originally written in Greek, by Tasos Leivaditis (1922-88). It was first published in his collection, Discovery (1977). Leivaditis is a much beloved modern Greek poet, whose work often reflects the political and existential struggles of postwar Greece. The poem appears here for the first time in English with the kind permission of Kedros Publishers.

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