Two Poems by Eleni Sikelianos
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
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
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
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“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.