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Poetry

Hermes In Retrogression

Translated from Greek
With fingers—fingertips and edge of nail— he plots fires with tongues of snakes,

With fingers—fingertips and edge of nail—
he plots fires with tongues of snakes,
a child yearning for sheer drops, with paper wings on his shoulders,
thinking and thinking of fires and acts of violence.
For years he lives in the basement of his polychrome dreams
where dampness lingers and moldy poison drips from walls.
He devours his scribblings and is never hungry, but only whines for water
which he likes winter-chilled, not cold.
He stubs out his cigarettes on the palms of his hands, and when he is hot and aroused
he whistles to derailment like a train and then, puff! . . . he breathes in smoke as he climaxes,
an orgasmic lunge, and then the plunge.  
Here on his decked-out tomb all he feared has come to pass, all that wounded him,
and all he didn’t understand . . . stronger now, smeared in ash, encircled by flames,
he spreads from time to time his paper wings to meet you.

 
Translation of “Anadromos Ermis.” Copyright Yiannis Moundelas. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 Peter Constantine. All rights reserved.

English

With fingers—fingertips and edge of nail—
he plots fires with tongues of snakes,
a child yearning for sheer drops, with paper wings on his shoulders,
thinking and thinking of fires and acts of violence.
For years he lives in the basement of his polychrome dreams
where dampness lingers and moldy poison drips from walls.
He devours his scribblings and is never hungry, but only whines for water
which he likes winter-chilled, not cold.
He stubs out his cigarettes on the palms of his hands, and when he is hot and aroused
he whistles to derailment like a train and then, puff! . . . he breathes in smoke as he climaxes,
an orgasmic lunge, and then the plunge.  
Here on his decked-out tomb all he feared has come to pass, all that wounded him,
and all he didn’t understand . . . stronger now, smeared in ash, encircled by flames,
he spreads from time to time his paper wings to meet you.

 
Translation of “Anadromos Ermis.” Copyright Yiannis Moundelas. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 Peter Constantine. All rights reserved.