Karen Kunc   © 2011 All Rights Reserved

Plaka, Athens


The air is broken.
Pins fall out with every step
along the awninged walkway,
and the vendor’s smirk
puts a blade to the throats
of tourists. Here among
the uninhabited urns
that cannot forget
their dead, another time
wanders, still seeking triumph.
Stone effigies grin down
at their own giant cocks.
Pocked earthenware
sits ivied in goats’ blood,
gods caught in the throats
of other gods. There is no
moonlight, so we do not yet know
what we are supposed to feel
between low canvases—
whether we are more
ourselves in this place
where breath is always
collapsing, or home
where light was never once
allowed to enter. The same
breeze now grazing
the pillars, stacked above
in uneven drums,
once slipped past
saffron curtains to bowls
on altars we knew, incense
swirling in discernible
answers. The loose sawdust
eddying over cobbles
whispers this too
was home. And the city’s
dead sphinx looms
over the roads, hissing
that it is too late—
we have been here already,
foreigners staring up
at the temple’s freshly
burnished surfaces, ready
to make a life. We did not
believe at first, but the black
glowing eyes insisted—
sweat-soaked dream
after sweat-soaked dream—
until at last we were willing
and sacrificed everything.


 

Michael Homolka
Copyright © 2011  

Michael Homolka’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, Notre Dame Review, Parnassus, West Branch, and Witness. He works in book production in New York City.
 


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