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Adrianne's Wild Greens is available from Red Hen Press

Her prose memoir, Broken Greek, is forthcoming from Plain View Press at www.plainviewpress.net in July 2006.

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Adrianne's webpage

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For more poetry



Adrianne Kalfopoulou

Adrianne Kalfopoulou




Numbers in War


A loaded gun, this silence of his,
each piece of story unloads
the quiet, this history
rotating death, forty-one shots
in the mountains, all of them for
Nazi Germans, except for
the woman, a German-Greek, a fact
he admits with the comment
that he wishes he'd shot more,
more death, more of them
for all the slaughtered Greeks
in Kolokythia, a village
west of Lamia, uttered with the date
they executed 40 soldiers and 1 woman,
April 9, 1943 in Kolokythia,
hardly enough he adds,
keeping track of a Nazi command:
for every German dead, Hitler ruled
100 non-Germans would die,
and if not soldiers then civilians.
For every German wounded
the ratio dropped 50 to 1, fractions
my father tabulates as my daughter shushes
her cousin who asks her to pass
the pie, “papou” she interrupts,
“how many did you say
you killed?” as he goes silent
rotating his glass of wine, swirling
the red in circles.



Below the Cemetery


This is the road of the dead, shops
sell laminated photographs, faces
in garish colors sealed into marble headstones
as if permanence might be given
to what is gone, the edifices meant to
decorate absence. Winged angels, suppliant
and patient, robed Christs, even the odd cupid
line shelves of dust-filmed windows.
They don't commemorate the devils
like Giotto's frescoes. Passive as the shopkeepers
with their days-old beards, cigarettes, their
shirt collars vaguely soiled, these lax expressions
haunt me, there is nothing here of ecstasy,
or battle, not even the devastation of loss
unless this is finally what it looks like,
the men hardly aware of where they're standing,
in entranceways that display caskets, frigid
Madonnas, plastic flowers and tinny candelabra,
a welcome to an underworld that is daylight
thrown on what cannot be resurrected.



Brides


Elina describes the DVD she watched late last night: after 7 years
this couple finally manage to be together & marry,

there's a scene where the bride's making breakfast for the two of them,
spills milk when her man gets up to help her out and they make love,

she goes back to getting the coffee to boil when he goes into the shower
but she's done something, the milk, the boiler, something short circuits

and she's electrocuted, her husband comes screaming out of the shower,
Elina's telling me she was screaming too when her son, a 17 year old,

thought something was really wrong only to find her crying in front of the TV
like me 3 nights ago watching Nifes with my 15 year old daughter

who brought the movie home, the story of mail-order brides in 1920s Greece,
a country of poverty, raw hills, islands barely freed of Turks when

a young woman, Niki, agrees to be given to a man she has never seen
to save the family. There's the long boat ride to America with another 650 mail-

order brides from Russia and other Greek islands, a last shot of life as Niki
the independent seamstress she yearns to be, all the brides' slim bodies like lilies,

their expressions fragile, their hair wound and bound like women walking
to a sacrifice. Everyone's below deck where they're sailing to futures they

hardly imagine, the islands and homes of childhood now “a place my children
will never know” a girl from Limnos says as I'm weeping on the couch,

my daughter's arm around me as I keep repeating no one gets what they want.
The photographer, an Irish-American by the name of Norman, is in love

with Niki, enraptured with her nicked fingertips, her broken English while she,
the stern island girl, tells him in tears and passion that she cannot be

with him, that she must give herself to Prodromos, the man she is promised to,
to save the seven sisters left behind, to afford the colored pencils

she will send back to the youngest sister Norman says “you must miss” when
Niki answers “I don't miss her, I love her.” And the movie ends with Niki's

tightly wound hair cut into an American bob, her figure hugged by an expensive
red dress as she reads the letter Norman managed to stash into a box of

photographs, I don't want you to never have received a love letter,
I want you to know you are the being I will miss all my life