Friday 23 October 2009

Poem: 'Raki In Tigaki'

(For Denis Charlton, who was there,
and who suggested this title)

he laughs something in greek, parakalo?
he nudges a glass at me, raki, do we know
are we aware of what we buy? after
a four hour storm from Rodos, we know
drawing back into bougainvillea shade,
cockerels crow somewhere near, dogs answer,
how to explain it to him?

a blur of years ago, Criti, Rethymnon,
an ossuary of human skulls, Samaria gorge,
then tabepna nudges deceptive water-clear liquid,
drink it, slam it back, raw, even as it sears,
43%, the boon and the damnation of gods,
tsikoudia, so intoxicating, so stimulating,
raki dreams are for ever, yet always new,
back to the Minoans and Mycenaeans,
they took swords to the first man who
brought the fruit of the vine, gift of Bacchus,
fearing poison, me too, yes… although
English courtesy determines we say ‘good’,
such apparent approval brings a full carafe
and he sits with us, matches drink for drink,
raki reconfigures the brain into telepathy
beyond words, the rage of poetry supersnazzing
my veins, charged alcohol molecules
that darken the day, then illuminate the dusk
storming mind-centres strangely lucid and sly
into bewilderments of bamboozlement, with
the shades of the lizard-king on my left shoulder
and Ti Jean to my right, nodding both their
stoned dazzlement, Bacchus – don’t fail me now!
he sits with us, matches us drink for drink,
‘the old ways’ he says, or rather, we agree,
we mutually determine, we understand,
the young, they don’t follow these old ways,
only value profit, money, fast material things,
we collude ‘we drink to the old ways, yammas’ as
the sun extinguishes, transferring its molten heat
into glass by glass, counting old ways into extinction…

now, he laughs something in greek, parakalo?
raki? – yes, we know raki…

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