Greek Avant Garde Poetry


Dean Kostos


after Arshile Gorky

Not tulips, not hyacinths, not violets-
this dark-lapelled boy offers his mother 

				a bouquet of leaves 
				with bandaged hands. 

To postpone death, he peers through a blur. 
Smear is a language: birds warble 

				above blood-soaked fields. 
				Foliage knits over severed limbs.  

				As a man,
he paints his mother & boy-self 

with a razor blade. Uses sandpaper
				to scrape memory

from canvas. 
His eyes dim as he counts

				black petals on the dress 
				she died in-
her body's
bouquet of carrion.  


Thoth-scribe of gods, attorney to divine 
council-clicked the mouse & printed flesh. 
As he died, language sprouted. Sanskrit maw 

sang Vedas. Mycenaean jaw chanted 
Linear B, waited for Phoenician 
Aleph Bet to forge alphabets: Hebrew, 

Greek, Etruscan, Latin-a batter poured  
into the mold of Norman French, langue 
of Guillaume le Conquérant, leavening 

Chaucer's English. Frankincense exhaled 
from Sophia's dome, dominated: refugee 
scholars, philosophers, sophists-with beards 

of smoke-trudged to Florence, hauled 
parchments scrawled by hand, inked 
by Gutenberg's moveable type: incunabula.

Florence to Paris to Warsaw ... Scripture
sowed thought's soil. Boccaccio ate an ancient 
lexicon, its juice dripping into his pen. 

He fed himself to Avon's swan—silvered 
o'er with white. Now brain-pulses sail across 
screens, ghost-oceans of cyberspace. 

Mouse-click: Thoth pilots us to memory's 
theater: a council of icons 
beams halo vowels.


			"Every photograph is a certificate of presence."—Roland Barthes

Art isn't abstract 
but abstracted: Eyes hunt for 
human faces. Green 
horizontals are serene 
landscapes or sleeping bodies.

In photographs, one 
sees divine divination. 
A face resembling 
Christ's, with languid gaze & beard, 
looms near a couple—visage 

blooms. An infant laired 
in father's arms sinks in the 
murk of emulsion. 
Floating features cannot be 
unseen. The Virgin Mary 

appears on bark, as 
a singe on grilled-cheese. She glows 
captive behind glass, 
millions making pilgrimage.
Nature's thunderheads gambol
as bestiaries,
acrobats, faces. The moon 
lures sight to discern 
features. Not Heaven, heaven-
ward. A satellite brought light 

to a towering 
mask on Mars. A monument?
No, lenses misread desire 
for our own species to people 

space. Even in speech,
we seek patterns. The beloved 
dead seem to hiss, "If 
you listen hard enough, we'll 
materialize from static." 


				after Devil Dog, oil on canvas by Melinda Hackett

In a nest of commas, eyes awe.
			From Sargasso weeds,
from brain-coral, 

bubbles rise. Their hiss vermilions. 
Swashmarks seep, release 
empty space. 

The X-ray of an angel-
electrified veins—swims
among sunken stars. 

A school of fingers 
parts curtains—
opium smoke in a bordello. 

tattoo ripples—
teal on Vandyke brown.  

Roiling from muck, paint drips
into canvas corners, 
deposits eggs.



No, not "never." No, not "nothing."
Noting nihilism never negates nor
necessitates newer neologisms. 
Narcotic night never needs needles
nor negating nous. Nous? Nigrosine
nimbus, nightmarish nomad,
navigate Nietzsche. Naught's
necropolis? No, nerves' necklace.
Nobility's nodding noiselessly.
Noonday nonentity, notice
nuances: nascent narcissus, not 
nothingness. Numinous nova,
number numb nouns. Nonplused,
Nostradamus never notified nations.