This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Eleni Sikelianos. 

[Juan, Juan et su fils? said the dream]

Juan, Juan et su fils? said the dream.
Have a drink in the ancient Roman light that flares
on the strange American faces
on the airport train. Juan, Juan, my
countrymen and women, no offense but
how did you get so
badly cut
while I was away? I was gone and when I came back
you’d voted for the wrong politicians! So many men!
Had I slept for five minutes and found you
on the subway saying all the wrong things or
in the meadow to the starlings?
You’ll feel like the waist of an otter in the teeth of a tiger and wonder
how hell is dressed with poorly—
how it’s haunted by badly pissed-off persons or people
These people, for example, forgetting
to make themselves happy
built the entryway but forgot to build the building
used up all the wood & coal & sky & ice & light
Now ¿Dónde viviremos?

[See the happy ring in the pond around my]

See the happy ring in the pond around my
                                  daughter & my sister swimming there 
        The pond around the ring around
                                         my daughter & my sister swimming 
and the land around the pond around the ring
                                         around my daughter & my sister 
                                                                                       swimming there 

If you took a picture from here you could almost see the craters—
               landing sites from Apollos 
                                  12, 14 & 17
                                              along with the last foot trails left on the moon 
(from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera you would see them better) 

If you took a picture from the moon you could see
               the ring in the pond 
               around my daughter & around my sister swimming 

You could hear my daughter ask,
                                              how old are you 
You would hear my sister say,

You would hear a crackle in the pick-ups
Then you would hear my daughter tell 
                    I have 25 dollars

you might hear the ripple, you might hear the ring, the dust
blowing across the crater



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems). 

“See the happy ring in the pond” and “Juan, Juan” are reprinted by permission from Make Yourself Happy (Coffee House Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Eleni Sikelianos.