Pavlina Pampoudi: “Me, who’s inexcusably mortal”: poems in translation

Ice pattern 3_January 20th 2016_Toronto

Pavlina Pampoudi (born 1948, Athens)
Secure is the world and the house
With small windows that look out on windows
That look out on windows.
I dwelt modestly. Hiding
Like filthy hallucinations
My heart my kidneys and my intestines
My brains my liver my lungs
The entangled yarn of my nerves the shame of excretions
I and the misplaced genie
That beats himself with shrieks
In its bottle –

. . .
The Betrothal
He is hanging on the shutters, flapping
He comes and I in a deep sleep look at him pitilessly
With the double sting on the forehead
Feeling pain in our fusings together.
He is black air from a red hole
I the cotton in the nostrils
And the stink of the dream
He is the dog that howls
And my body grows longer.
He is the Egg
I am the Nymph
He is the Fly.
He is I
Mortally discoloured and I suck
The most toxic green
From my iris.
. . .
Translations from the Greek originals © Rae Dalven
. . .
Baby Asleep in the Pram
Finger in its mouth. (The same finger
That I have still, the same mouth.)
I’m the same baby in whose sleep
Still dream
All those I’d later meet
And all the others
That I’d read
Or write about.
(My ancesters and descendants
Living and dead
In another time. The enemy,
The friends, the flora and fauna
Of my lot.)
They all
Still go on in my sleep
With their half-finished lives
Again and again
That for some unknown reason
Are significant.
. . .

In Colour. The Players startled, red-eyes like Rabbits. (Trapolo means Trap)
. . .
How did I come to be here?
On someone’s account. Some common ancestor most likely.
I fancy I didn’t want to play.
I don’t recall.
It seems
A simple game of cards. But
It’s not always what it seems.
At daybreak
Playing partners invisible amid the smoke
These too condemned in their power,
Shuffle other cards.
In the world above
They shuffle, cut and deal
My images and my mirrors
In stances and dances.
Amid the smoke
They shuffle, cut and deal
Other cards.
They cheat me.
Me, who’s inexcusably mortal.
. . .
Translations from the Greek originals © David Connolly
. . .
Pavlina Pampoudi may be regarded as having been part of a next-generation of surrealistic poets in Greece. She studied archaeology and history at the University of Athens but had already had published, at the age of 16, under a pseudonym, her first poetry collection: Ironical Peace. Pampoudi has also written stories for children, and translated Winnie the Pooh into Greek.
. . . . .