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David Garyan: California Poets Part 6, One Poem

David Garyan - Meteora Greece (photo by Tigran Hovhannisyan)

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

David Garyan

One Poem

St. John’s Dance*

Every single word is an exodus for a meeting, canceled many times.

—Yannis Ritsos

On a planet covered only by water, how do drowning people say help?


There once was a man

who never tired of anything.

Like a leaf on a tree,

he stayed green the whole year,

but when those fall

seasons came,

he alone didn’t change colors.

And when winter, too,

graced his doorstep,

he neither opened

when it knocked,

nor did he shut any windows—

even when it came in without asking.

For this man, whose name

was Eímai Kourasménos,

the sea had no shore,

only transient coasts,

and the land no borders,

just short-lived divisions.

His life had begun

like a ruler praying

to be measured.

The scales in his time had left

the plant without markings,

and except for this flaw,

all else seemed perfect.

Those who looked closer

saw his mind’s straightness.

Those who really knew

him saw something else:

He was a yardstick

without a yardstick for measures.

Yet, even the strongest fire

must burn with laws of the flames;

even the toughest

wind mustn’t doubt

the direction it’s given.

Eímai Kourasménos

had this curious trait,

and so he never

questioned his life’s path:

When people invited him,

he always left the party last.

When kindly asked to leave,

he was the first

not to take offence.

Eímai Kourasménos lived this way

not because he liked it,

not because people both

hated and loved him—

he simply couldn’t

tire of being hated and loved.

Still, Eímai Kourasménos

was a man of taste and judgment.

Since he never slept for pleasure,

he drank only the finest coffee.

Since he always had energy,

he bought the most precise watches.

When he explored a new city,

he never walked too much or little.

He visited his mother often,

but always took the longest way there.

When his wife was away,

he never managed to miss her.

When she was in his presence,

he also couldn’t tire of her.

It seemed like Lýpi Kourasménos

had found the perfect husband—

except for some small details:

She could get sapped

walking foreign cities.

When her mother called,

she gladly took shortcuts to visit.

When her husband was away,

she never drained missing him.

When she was there

she felt sure he didn’t care.

So it was that Lýpi Kourasménos

also had taste. And judgment too.

Hence their marriage

couldn’t last.

*The above is an excerpt from a book length-poem, as of yet unfinished.


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