Saturday, March 23, 2024




April 25

This year the blackbirds are the tiles

on the roof of summer.

Fear gropes like the blind man's hand

for the handle of the door.

You sit on a rock

You're calm because you're tired

you're good because you were afraid

you forget easily because you don't want to remember

you don't forget.

May 1

The soldier crushed his cigarette into the ground.

How easily every single thing can be crushed.

Across the water, Laviro.

Who is it who said: the women reapers

with the swallows' scythe?

Cover your ears with your hands.

Shame. Shame.

May 3

The people sit in the sun

they take off their jackets

their boots become tight

the soldiers' armpits sweat.

You rub a little thyme between your fingers.

This is how we slowly slowly age

above the second death.

May 4

Someone is smoking beside the guardhouse.

The evening star looks out above the mountain

as if it's knocked on the wrong door.

The utility poles darken

they stretch full length

afraid they'll bend.

May 5

They owe us a lot.

If we don't get it back

we'll owe that too.

The floorboards are moldy from the damp

the windows warped the panes broken

dirtied sheets loose boots

the bread has no odor

the people have grown very thin

like saints.

Concentration camp

Makronisos, 1950


Yannis Ritsos

Diaries of Exile

translated by Karen Emmerich & Edmund Kelley

Archipelago Books, 2013