POEMS

By Karine Leno Ancellin

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Arcadi’s heART

Arcadi explained dignity with blue life in his eyes
It was not his stature, not his crystal elegant features but
more the accumulation of unmatched personal situations.

As we swished by the Greek countryside, Uncle was silent in the car,
and then, prompted by the landscape, or a village Church,
he would spring of beauty to our attentive presence

Arcadi had stories from the old days, in Saint Petersburg,
His narrative would dress the small car in architectural marvels,
Coloured characters flashed, not only in Russia, in New York and in Greece too.

Invited by Angela, Uncle and Anna, Katia, Kalashka, and me,
with legendary generosity, in Monemvathia,
were cradled in a tradition of refined hospitality.

In his Manhattan apartment, a multi-layered anachronism
covered in carpets, books, heavy on inlaid wooden shelfs and antiques
out of sync with its hood, up on the upper east side of 86th street.

It was Arcadi’s Russian abode, a large study for an “Homme de lettres
He, who had befriended W.H. Auden at Columbia University
taught loving literature, as part of the NYU academy.

Retired from teachings, he directed his passion to restoration,
of old monuments and churches, he sought after a form of inventory
to restore the past glory. Arcadi Nebolsine was a man in his generation.

A Gourmet palate vied with his taste of the mind
his wits lay everywhere about him on alert, with a British tinge
almost inaudible behind his deep bass baritone voice.

Sitting on the bench of a long Island pier, wasting time
Arcadi was uncle in the same tone of voice, a warm ‘weltschmerz’*.
A huMan of foresight who recalled revolutions.

With age he blossomed with sensitivity
he shed his bearskin from the deeply rooted tree
that had grown branches of lyrical poetry.

Circumstances whirled him indubitably at the centre
whether with a chess board or a piano recital
from within, he irradiated the joy of company.

In its fast modern pace New York valued his refinement
From afar, Russia craved his religious engagement
And family and friends enjoyed his enlightenment

His generosity flowed over his baroque self,
Combining art with people, one reflected the other
Until thoughts reached his inner cosmos.

Anna’s dogs around him, Arcadi was part of brotherhood
A glass of vodka would veer his grumpy old rant to reciting poetry
enriching their lessons, Katia and Kalashka never had enough.

Born in New York, Arcadi’s Grandparents had fled October 1917.
New York welcomed the traumatised Russian aristocrats, entangled as they came
With only their ethics to sustain them, grace was a treasure then.

He left in quiet dignity with the sun setting on Long Island
Every morning, or many mornings, his memory knocks at our thoughts,
reminding us forever: “Beauty will save the world

Karine Ancellin
August 21st, 2020

*weltschmerz

Word of Dutch origin meaning a form of mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state, a mood of sentimental sadness.

 

Karine Leno Ancellin

blankKarine Leno Ancellin was born and grew up in New York until she moved to very different countries altogether. She worked on ‘Hybrid identities’ for her Phd at the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels. She earned an MA, with Honours, in Literature at the Charles V Institute of Paris VII-JUSSIEU. She is now a professor, writer and translator (English/French) living in Athens, Greece. She has published articles and interviews for the WIP, Kulturissimo, and other media. She is now involved in the promotion of pan-Hellenic Literature. She co-founded a poetry society with Angela Lyras (www.apoetsagora.com). Her poems have been put into music by the Jazz composer Leila Olivesi.

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Like the Matisse cut outs at the MoMa,
your immaterial face, an interface, as pieces of a puzzle,
 
Your dried lips blowing a chapped kiss,
Your black curls waving the impossibility to nest in your supple white.
 
My heart stoops to the moment-
the beats throbbing too loud for this pixelated slowness.
 
The virtual frame has caught your eye,
the gold hues of your iris shimmer
shaded by your palm like lashes…
 
In a flash, the dark iris magnified 
 
by a tear,
A perfect human tear.…
 
A tear enlarged so real it liquefies me,
 
as I sit,         
in virtual,             
ecstasy.

Racked Refugees

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Dedicated to ChemseddineMarzoug

Like the winged Victory of Samothrace
standingheadless uprooted in the Louvre today,
Like the ruins of Athens’ statues

 

It is the head that goes first,
the head that breaks away from the body
the head, that the erosion, of water currents cuts off.

 

Drowned refugee bodies land awash
on the beach of Tunisia, in Zarzis
a cherub body without a head, an ancient Athenian ruin, still wet.

 

In the Acropolis museum
statues have lived through centuries
without their extremities, and retained their exquisite misery

 

In the cemetery of unknown
ChemseddineMarzoug has buried
dismembered parts of subhuman hope,

Racked in the milk of human cruelty

 

——

 

iCloud

 

The algorithms are filling up the space
Where is the place where I can forget you?

 

Chem or con, you trail me…unsuspected
between the clouds, icloud, meanders with the thought of you

 

Nudging hurdles
Psychology and philosophy
Breaking aloof

 

To fly to you
a heart on cloud 9
Desire tight

 

stuffing frequencies
no hertz to flee

 

——

 

Interview with the Moon

Yes! I have, more than once in my life
suffered the pangs of lack of light,
my albedo not quite right
dark thoughts lurking
though I’m not good at emoting

 

my childhood was seldom joy filled
as my father’s rays came to me befuddled
my mother, the earth, had so much on her own
that she could not have my needs be known
So I pouted and looked the other way

 

Not at all, I don’t do it on purpose
the tides follow my trajectory, I don’t impose,
it’s just gravity, I’m only Selene, the sun is my master
his influence is twice greater
than my inordinate responsibility

 

Not to this day, but I see the useless satellites
every day, whether I’m there or out of sight,
piles of junk orbit around me.
What is to happen to all these debris?
When my proxy life ends,

 

yours will dim, dark.

Athena’s Blaze

READ ON MOONMAGAZINE

Dedicated to Panos Kokkinidis and family

Amongst Athens’ top pastry chefs
Panos Kokkinidis
was spending a warm summer day near Mati,
a picturesque beach town, suave and lovely
on the Aegean shore of Greece.

He had mastered the art of fire
crafting innovational delicacies,
well-known with the Athenian literati.

So when the grey flames came blazing towards him
his wife, his children and his mother
he took his phone out and began filming
not knowing what he could be expecting,
he posted the agonizing video,
struck by this monumental inferno
a slithering colossal amber moving
like an incandescent dragon approaching
denser and closer
scorching the children and elderly first
threatened and afraid,
all scampered, fast
the somber smoke asphyxiating first
as the diabolical flares
crawled black into their flesh.
All dead.

Panos perished,
a burning man,
the flames had devoured their master.

A plastic dumpster melted in its own carcass
the fire had gone a Daliesque rage.
Scattered burnt doors still in fumes,
carbonized peeled cables
much like macabre carnations,
sardonic skeletons of electric metal boxes
dangled on worn-out weeping walls
their imperial power annihilated,
a waste of human sacrifice.

The tranquil blue now nags at the blanket of silver ash-dust,
why is its turquoise so arrogant, so indifferent?
Is there no suffering in this crystal sea?

The fire had devastated the lands
leaving nothing to soothe the empty hands
Death was irrevocable,
nothing to hang on to for rebirth,
not a thing not turned to ashes.