Greek Avant Garde Poetry


George Kalamaras

At the Bottom of the Dark

At the bottom of the dark
where my mind released animals
of fear—possums, skunks—I heard
something like the mother of a whale
inside a whale, a seed inside 
my mouth, nocturnal bleatings
of the sheep, the slaughtered loss
of a sycamore, terrified coon shivering
the leaves, butterflies from Malacca
in the full-throated howl of the bluetick
commanding the tree to fall
into the armored armadillo earth, 
the blood magic of tribal unity
(of plants, stars, packs of hounds)
when Namibian women took to the hut
for four days or five, and parts of themselves
broke off, the way the shell of an egg
offered nerve endings of lightning
as if a cave painting crawling forth
the sky before a hunt when the dogs are called
off the scent of what they know
will eventually be treed—that furry part
of the heart, half in, half out of our mouths
where if the I got rid of the you
mouths would be moths, and the bottom
of the dark would be a luna cough
when our breath would cluster and bunch,
blessing the leaves with abrupt fog
fears from deep inside the chest, and deep
inside our mouths our other mouths
that do not speak but know the sounds
of sound moving through the rich mineral
rinse of the great good green of a singular
voice we could speak if speak but spoke 
the purposeful pursuit of the pack
and raised our voice to the fearful thing
shivering above us in the trees
as if moonlight broke
apart into each individual leaf trembling, glowing
at the bottom at the very bottom of the dark

City of Nine Gates / The Body's Many Mouths

Pretend they're all hounds. Don't dare to hurt
a word. We are all sounds. All sound mouths.
The Upanishads say the City
of Nine Gates is the body. Go. Count

its several mouths. There are openings
in our words we let in. We let out.
We might drop the word of, and the earth
as we know it might finally know us.

We might spend time stoking a woodstove,
coonhound silk in our lap. Its ears
might hear us tearing ourselves. Apart.
It is by all counts erotically charged

lightning in the mouth, the sudden glow
of thunder. Left is right. The mouth an
ear. A finger. A toe. Here, give us.
Give us the very ban on words hound song

thrums into the chest. If I could count
I'd bring nine hound pups into the body's
open swamps. You see, what we take in
we take in. Consider breathing out.

Consider the badger burrowing
a home. Consider dirt urging dirt,
word blurring words, and the way the moist
and much mangles the margins

of it. The body. The such and sluch
of the tongue. The stove door's opening
grate. The glow a hound giveth unto
us. The way cherry wood, dried, burns best.

Say silk. Say a coonhound ear could be
the weight and width of our tongue. Okay,
we talk on as if a dog. As if
a bawl-mouthed hound woke through nerve endings

of our speak. The City of Nine Gates,
which giveth the body's many mouths.
Hound-swamped. Tongue-stroked. Coon-bound. Struck.