by N.N. Trakakis

Published in Issue No. 247 ~ December, 2017

There are women who inspire the need to master and enjoy them;

but she kindles the desire to die slowly, with her watching.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Urge to Paint,” Paris Spleen

In a month of Mondays

Weather-beaten, like Glaucus of the sea

Kneeling in the back pew

Head in hands

In unyielding seriousness

Cobwebbed by the old words

This you appeared

Singing the Vespers psalm

That made me fall out of love


the miracle of empty hands:

giving what you do not have

O lamb of God

You could sing the phone book

But what you gave to God

Was stolen from me

(lower-case man)

Afterwards we entered the raw afternoon

Strange and out of place

In the teeming fog-wreathed

Sexuality of the streets

Separated by millimetres, not miles

Playing heads or tails with your existence

Your dog-eyes fixed to the stars

Your stumbling bound to have

too many consequences

Like mimosa pudica

Folding at first touch

In the midday of life

You confess

You hear the silence

The gods whisper in your ear

Your made-up relationships

No different from mine

Wound tight

With insatiable desires

Pace is the trick, O Rachel,

you never mastered

I miss you I miss you

talitha cum!

O Rach-el O Rach-el

You confess

They keep telling you to get a life

But we’d rather be dead, we said

Than have “a life”

Life anyway wasn’t meant to be lived

It was meant to be written

And you were smitten

By dark ecologies

Under the shattered moon

Where night undoes day

But no-one dies

because no-one lives

Zero summer

We would see sun

think shadow

Delirious and demented

Thoughts degraded into feelings

Soul sodden

Crotch charged

Used-up words

And die-away whispers

Fusing and confusing

With all our fuckery

Bathed in your sweat, in my regret

And a nameless be-longing

The original sin against you:

“Don’t give me roses,

Because roses always die”

But you took the lies

Like a frog swallowing flies

Frightened to read your eyes

Our days now done

Our altars smoke no more

Your last words

From a mouth full of ashes:

“Keep the memories,

I don’t want them”

The cold steel truths of life

And your telephone reaction

Like a blow to the back of the head.


In blood-smeared lips

Every morning

You brew coffee

For two.

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N.N. (‘Nick’) Trakakis is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University, and also writes, edits and translates poetry. His publications in the area of philosophy include ‘The God Beyond Belief’ (Springer, 2007) and ‘The End of Philosophy of Religion’ (Continuum, 2008). In the area of poetry, he has edited ‘Southern Sun, Aegean Light: Poetry of Second-Generation Greek-Australians’ (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011); he has translated from the Greek Tasos Leivaditis’ ‘The Blind Man with the Lamp’ (Denise Harvey Publications, 2014); and he has published several collections of his own poetry, the most recent being ‘After Life’ (2016).