Poetry

Between Zero and a Star
Aeolean, London, 1998
  • A silent path 

    My father says yes
    My mother says yes
    I observe in the centre

    My father says yes
    My mother says no
    I am whiplashed in the centre

    My father is silent
    My mother is talking
    I walk away from the centre

    My father is silent
    My mother is silent
    I walk my path in silence

    from 'Between Zero and a Star'
    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Amazing Grace 

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    Among forgotten skulls
    Next to a solitary churchyard
    Where as a merry child chasing butterflies
    I tread upon a weeping soil
    Secretly witnessing the loss
    Left by the massacre
    Of civil war

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    On a black marble cross
    Where among
    The names of heroes lost at war
    I recognise my own
    Carrying it for years
    Around my neck without a moan
    As heavy as a tombstone

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    When lost in a river
    Of doors shut by betrayal
    My grandmother’s snowflake song
    Springs from her wedding crown
    And raises me anew
    Guiding me through

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    Ridding through my children’s innocence
    Heralding their arrival
    Into the dusty flaking world
    Crowded with boxed robotic aspirations
    Networked with God’s
    Modern creation

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    In a woman’s hands
    Holding my head
    As I seek refuge
    Next to a nuclear power station
    Carrying in a bowl the world’s innocence
    Like an aborted foetus
    Of the globe

    Amazing Grace
    I find you
    On the veined leaves of a plant
    Kept in a greenhouse for protection
    On grey concrete skyscrapers
    Housing blank days
    And violent nights
    Next to Madonna’s
    Vandalised flat

    Amazing Grace
    We’ve all been on the famous cross
    Why then the fuss for just one man?
    Jesus you’ve never been the only one
    Your PR was simply better done
    Through aeons we prayed enough
    Now it’s your turn to pray for us
    Your innocent beloved lambs
    Lost in
    An advertised
    Utopian
    Promised land

    from 'Between Zero and a Star'
    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Baris Cengi drowned clutching his violin
    (Crossing the Aegean towards freedom) 

    When you will sail again on the Aegean
    Don’t look for Alexander’s desperate Gorgon
    Neither the mythical siren’s love laced call
    Just close your eyes and you may hear
    Baris violin
    A freeborn ocean song
    Slashing the silver blue
    Unshackled and immortal
    Forever true

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Coronavirus 

    We have entered the Anthropocene epoch
    No time to think about Democracy
    Globalisation Capitalism Wars or Multinationals
    People are ready to bunker down
    Into the neighbourhoods cul-de-sac
    Avoiding infection
    Spread by the invisible silent visitor
    The son of Imbalance and Greed
    Thriving in an anthropogenic climate

    Petroleum nightmares
    Like giant dinosaurs
    Bring unforeseen calamities
    Seas drowned in plastic
    Lands saturated with pesticides
    Skies yellow with pollution
    Ozone layers depleted
    Corroding even the iron of words

    Fears of confinement and illness
    Tucked under blankets of feverish bones
    Rooms turned into cells of uncertainty
    Men walking away from women
    Women walking away from children
    Children walking away from the elderly
    People wearing masks
    Shuffling into empty spaces
    As a whole new generation watches “survivor”
    While struggling to survive

    A coronavirus reigning
    In the schism between egalitarianism and inequality
    Where power becomes elusive
    An unfulfillable ideal
    In a fluid world where nothing is solid
    A hallucination of command and control
    Lurking in the speaking silence of a dream
    Where every step is birth
    Every step is death

    Nation states left powerless
    In the face of the invisible intruder
    Who like dark matter
    Undetectable and mysterious
    Neither absorbing nor emitting light
    Rests everywhere without malice

    The exhausted nurse
    Silent empty broken
    Turns off the ventilator
    And goes out into the void of the city
    Where amidst the divided clouds
    Thoughts
    About the thousand dead lying inside
    Surface
    Shutting the world
    Like the lid of a white coffin

    Such grief is born not felt
    And surely breaks a heart

    As a contemporary Sisyphus climbing
    Into the daily morning light
    Where the vacuum
    Between today and tomorrow lies
    We will rise again
    To build
    From the bleakness of yesterday
    And the remnants of today
    New bright dreams
    Hopes and calamities
    In the clear skies of tomorrow

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • For my Father 

    A child I was
    Drawn to you
    My father
    Similar to an insect circling a lamp
    Before resting
    On a heavenly stone wall

    I grew up
    And the world
    Like a genie’s twisted body
    Emerging from an opaque phial
    Beckoned to me

    I travelled light
    In the afterglow of a springtime sunset
    Discovering new landscapes with the naked eye
    While the camera lens you gave me
    Captured people’s gaze
    Out of a desolate transparency
    Bouncing back on my iris

    Soaked in Claret wine
    Carrying a loaf of bread
    I returned to you
    Stepping out of a still life picture
    Like an air breathing violin spider
    Weaving a walkway on cracked crevices

    You were waiting as always
    By the old pine door
    Your face partly illuminated
    By the flickering candle light
    Holding in your palms as an offering
    A glass filled with the music of silence

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • I tried 

    You travel
    Behind the light
    Of music
    Turning me into
    An eternal waltz
    While rain falls
    In the dead
    Fast food places

    Our love grows old
    Like a worn out coat
    And our words are locked
    In the barrel of an
    Unused gun

    Rest your sorrow
    In my autumnal garden
    Under the old pine tree
    It is I who tried to turn you
    From a sparrow
    To a hawk
    It was never you

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Love Declination 

    I love you
    You love her
    He loves me
    She loves him
    We love them
    You love him
    He loves you
    She loves me
    They love us

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Memory 

    A white rose
    in front
    of a loved person’s
    photograph
    blooming
    memory

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • My Mother 

    I carried your handbag today
    And found in the pocket
    Some sweets and a ticket for the Bolshoi Ballet
    You loved dancing
    Wanted to be a ballerina
    But never did

    Defying the heaviness of the falling nights
    You danced life away the way you chose
    Challenging the inevitable pain
    And malfunctions of love
    By redefining yourself
    Into a different whole
    Like an unfinished poem
    With an ever changing title

    Lying by the sea together
    We stretched our boundaries
    Creating new images of the world
    Denying consciously our nothingness
    Practicing freedom
    Practicing death
    On a minute molecule
    Stolen from our life’s invisible canvas

    I am wearing today
    Your blue star sapphire ring
    The one my father brought you
    From the Far East
    It glows and fades mysteriously like you
    Sealed on your finger
    Clasped on my finger
    Like a utopian plain
    Holding precious iced water

    Your last supper was
    A chocolate
    Followed by a cigarette
    The last punctuation of life
    Smoked with untold elegance

    I thought you had gone
    You said
    But I was there and brought you water
    Then you murmured that you wanted to sleep
    And you did
    Forever

    Empty space
    But somewhere in between the blue corridors
    Of sea and sky
    Your gaze remains locked upon me
    Like a priceless indelible birthmark

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Old Goa 

    St. Francis’ church
    Spears up its dome
    Piercing silent prayers
    Fixed on resilient columns
    In a fluid world

    In the centre
    God overlooks the valley of Life
    Where we rest awhile
    Like fleeting caravan travellers
    Made from rocks of unrest
    Earthed at a journey’s edge

    Scattered like moving dots
    We are mutating offerings
    To a cosmic perfection
    Of an expanding
    Infinite universe

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Ouzo 

    In the four corners of the day
    Sipping ouzo next to you
    I become etherised thinking
    But not daring touching you

    Instead I wave my hand
    Into nothingness
    Chasing your hundred indecisions
    Squeezing into a piece of
    Fried cheese you offer me
    A hundred and one visions

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Rocks 

    Rocks like abstract forms
    Swimming through sea stories
    And wind songs
    Break the salty water
    Of memories and tears

    Cracks of knowledge
    On their granite surface
    Wait to be filled
    With lost expectations

    Caressing their hardened veins
    Measuring their detail in isolation
    I collect the ocean’s thoughts
    From dried seaweeds

    from 'Between Zero and a Star'
    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Song 

    How can one hear
    The song of the waves
    Through an empty
    Seashell?

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Stardust 

    I will never see you again
    The only consolation now
    Is gazing at the enigmatic skies
    Where newly born gods
    Afraid of tears
    Refuse to fall

    You left us
    Like a hot star
    Going through a violent transitional phase
    Ejecting the mass that was binding you to earth

    Your breathing and rhythmical heartbeat
    During your last hours
    Resembled my children’s
    While still in the womb
    Like you they laboured
    Emerging from molecular clouds
    Unleashing supersonic waves
    Transforming their place of birth
    And turning into earthly stars

    Where is your energy flowing now?
    Is it circling like an abstract form in the silent language of our dreams?
    Is it hidden in a galactic centre behind obscuring dust?
    Is it like a filamentary material left from a supernova blast?
    Is it recycling into building a new generation of stars?
    Or is it a runaway pinwheel firework
    Ignited against a background of thousand galaxies
    Swirling among the fury of star birth and star death
    Returning dust to birth again?

    Star bright
    Star light
    I thought I saw a new star being born tonight

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • The Gloves 

    He took off his gloves to greet her
    Then gave her his gloves to warm her hands
    He gazed at her wearing the eyes of a child
    And when her hands had warmed up
    He put on his gloves and he killed her
    Leaving no trace

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • The White Armchair 

    The old man
    Drags his feet
    Four steps and two
    Then rests and breathes
    Shuffling
    Unsteadily
    Into the large white armchair
    Where for years his manly body
    Sought respite from the daily toil
    Weary bones now fill the space
    Like light airfreight baggage

    He leaves the walking stick
    Hooked by his side
    And with a sigh
    Plunges in the white armchair
    Shutting his eyes
    Asking with a weary voice:
    Where are my glasses?
    Bring them to me
    I need to find the keys
    To unlock life and fly away

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • THIS IS not SIMPLY a brief LOVE affair 

    I love being alone
    She whispers
    But this love
    Has turned solitude into torture
    Like emptiness walking
    Inside living spaces

    So she burns down the house
    No windows
    No doors
    No exit or entry
    Now she can see the moon
    Now she can see but him

    Then she realised this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there was but pain of absence

    Cladded in solitude
    She writes him endless notes
    The future lies hidden in shadows
    Our meeting was a momentary marriage
    Brief without feuds and no betrayals

    Things are done on my terms he says
    I have no ties
    A new encounter every time
    Like flat coloured dots
    On the accessible map of the world

    Break away from the habit of mooring
    Break away from the habit of constant change
    Let me be your BabaYaga
    And ride my bright dawn through your life

    Don’t like being cornered in
    Really?
    I know what will you say next
    When will she get some sense?
    Consider then this base commonsense
    It will all blow over
    It will all come right in the end
    When it all comes right in the end
    There is no point in living
    It will just be too late

    Then she realised that this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there were no more words to say

    I create structures he maintains
    And cannot change my way of being
    Then build me in one so I can change
    Into a bridge a house a temple
    But promise me to visit
    At dawn at midday and at dusk

    He takes her in an igloo garden
    And for every brick he lays
    A kiss he gives her too
    When the last brick closes her in
    She whispers:
    I do not mind being buried in
    But I will miss your kisses
    And so she floods the igloo
    With all the women’s tears
    Gathered for thousand years

    Then she realised that this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there was nothing else to build

    Her voice gentle as white goodnight
    Seeps through the igloo walls
    Please take me out
    I am not the end
    I am just love
    Before any beginning
    Please take me out
    I am your life
    And not a fantasy
    Or dream

    With his bare hands
    He pulls the bricks out one by one
    Seeing her smiling face
    He takes her hand
    And leads her to the sea
    Dissolving in a sweet embrace

    The water is not warm or cold
    Just right to wash away the mortar
    Keeping her hair wrapped up and dry
    Like an unchartered map
    She slides on him like soap leaving no traces
    And stroking his exquisite rage
    Passionately asks
    Meet me in an hour at the limits of your city

    Then she realised that this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there was nothing else to fill

    He never came
    Kept by an ugly woman jailer
    Who did the rites so masterly
    And chained him by her side
    While she
    Like walking death
    Entered dazed in a café
    Thinking about suicide
    Reflecting sadly how
    It might be a selfish act
    And how her children bound her life

    Damnable life
    When even dying can’t solve a thing
    Damnable life swallowing sorrows
    Like bits of shed snake skin

    Then suddenly
    He appeared
    A musician
    Joining her in the coffee place
    Noticing her suicidal thoughts
    Floating in a glass of orange juice
    With sad eyes and smiling face
    A tune he played on his
    Soprano sax

    All pass away including life
    And this cannot be helped
    But if we are alive why die before our time?

    For life is a rebellion against death
    She cried
    Art a rebellion against life
    When life and death become too much alike
    Alike nice word he said
    And went on with a strange forgotten song
    About a kiss tasting of orange

    Yet all she saw was but his hands
    Fingering the body
    Of the saxophone
    And all she saw was but his mouth
    Mingling with breath pressing his lips
    Onto the round holes of a mystery

    Then she realised that this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there was nothing else to hear

    Wrapped up inside the melody
    She left her life behind
    And with a coloured map
    She travelled much and far
    Until she wrote a song
    About a king she met on a deserted road
    Who wanted to now why
    The love notes in her song
    Required great skill to master

    Then the king said
    Look at my scars
    They cut me in two
    By pass my heart
    And curve around my back
    I cannot stay with you
    You need much more than that

    Interesting how you fuss about your scars
    Mine is curved stretching
    Between my nipple and my belly
    Don’t talk to me about your scars
    Nothing in life is a straight line
    And silencing the digital alarm
    They slept curled upon their scars
    Lost in a galaxy of stars

    Then she realised that this was like a dream and opened her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Open upon open until there was nothing else to touch

    Who is the wise man
    Who said
    That light was good and darkness evil?
    In extremes all is reversed
    So in the evening she laid upon him
    Like a long broken glittering necklace
    Fallen from his throat
    And he became a living syllable as she entered his body
    And she loved him lengthwise in the evening
    And in the morning she wrote his name
    With a jasmine bloom and honey
    And she loved him vertically in the morning
    And in the afternoons she slept by his side
    And dreamed it was dawn
    And dreamed it was night

    Then she realised that this was life and shut her eyes
    Even though her eyes were open
    Shut upon shut until there was nothing else but life’s pure dream

    © Aliki Roussin
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  • Western Haiku 

    Writing
    A coded language
    With fragmented feelings
    In a moth-eaten city

    In Holland
    Van Gogh’s self-portrait
    Is sinking among
    Floating tulips

    Melting permafrost
    In Chinese cities
    Kills
    Unknown poets

    Astronauts wearing
    Enigmatic masks
    Paint
    Lunar landscapes

    The Sahara desert leapfrogs
    The Mediterranean into Spain
    Bedouins exchange
    Their camels for bulls

    Freud got smothered
    In dreamland’s divan
    While searching
    For a key

    Your love like a letter
    Of credit to a seller
    Activates a performance bond
    The deal is closed

    The poet wanders
    In a supermarket
    Looking for
    Frozen inspiration

    Pouring rain
    The night walks
    Barefoot
    In the mud

    from 'Between Zero and a Star'
    © Aliki Roussin
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Poetry is fragments of one’s personal journey captured through a camera lens. Unrepeated, frozen, breaking the sequence and flow of time and history. 

A genesis of words, in an unknown combination, in order  to articulate feelings, experiences and thoughts, sometimes through a spiritual channel. 

The word poetry and poem derives from the Greek poieo – ποιεω – meaning to create – as is the word Lyric from the Greek Lyra (similar to a harp) which used to accompany the performance of  lyrics during 7BC.

I grew up in a household where poetry was part of life from Homer to Edward Lear recited by my father to Yeats, Shelley, and Rilke recited by my mother.

Later on in life during the Orthodox Easter liturgy my father and I used to attend, I experienced the untold poetic lyricism referring to women.

During some filming trips in remote areas of Greece, I happened to witness the unusual and powerful poetry of the  nearly extinct dirges, composed on the spot by mostly illiterate women during funerals. Perhaps a confirmation that poetry as an art form, predates literacy, the same as music, predates language.

These experiences and many more, made me realise that poetry is also as much about pathos and passion, creating a strong imagery of the eye and ear that can coexist in the same poem.