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[Poetics] Karren Alenier

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

upanddown in Mykonos

departing the Calcutta of Mykonos in a beatup tinycar orange but peeling orangeanddented we review with host Stephano ourtimeonthepartyisland where we drank gingerbeer no gingerale with an American novelist we say nothing about the alcoholfree author calling Stephano’s neighborhood full of buses cars unstable fourwheeled quads versus twowheeled cycles and oh the pickpockets being named by mister writer Calcutta nothing about the depressedeconomyonanisland where shops sell exclusiveluxury goods only that we had a good time in an expensiverestaurant where we ate exotic appetizers but notafullmeal we agree with Stephano 300,000 persons from May to the firstofNovember are too many and the 10,000 left for winter with fewplacestogoforfun and the seasonal exodus of doctors makes life hard on this seaandsun island a bitterness we heard from his beautifulmama carrying the laundry upanddown



in August from Amorgos

we set you free poured

a portion of your remains

into the Greek sea

off a jagged

coast at Agia Anna’s Bay where

wanderers had abandoned

their clothes to dip

in the cool blue water


Greece a place my Beloved

you had yearned to see

with our shawls we made


over our heads temporary shelter

from the burning rays

of the too close sun

like a Jewish wedding couple

with our shawls we made a home

a home to launch you from

this island birthplace

of your honorary daughter’s

father he loved you

for guiding his child

she loved you for making

her brave

your wife said

for a happy life be sure

to have some younger friends


The next day


of your birth the heavens produced

an event not be repeated in this century

total eclipse of the blood moon with Mars rising

what could this red show mean

peace (cont’d. stanza break)

it’s what you my Beloved wanted

me to see the earth covering the light

of the sun

turning the moon ruby red

an unparalleled jewel

while the bloody

war planet stood

respectfully by in peace.

visit to the Backside

Piso Mareia July 2019

after tikanis kala we study

the photos on the walls

Mama Papa Mina’s four


Marigoulis Polixene

Ioanna Irini

her six brothers

Leonidas Dmitri Georgos

Christos Panneyotis Yannis

I have borrowed Ioanna’s

daughter Katerina for this

visit to the Backside

we celebrate

the trailblazing Polixene who left

this village for America

who kept her door

unlocked even in America

sponsoring Ioanna

Ioanna who wanted more

sparkle than the village

could offer

Polixene who refused

to be buried told her son Nico

I don’t care burn the body

a little secret no one dares

mention aloud as we descend

the steps to the family church

after hearing the unmelodious

clanging bells

Karren LaLonde Alenier is author of seven poetry collections, including Looking for Divine Transportation (The Bunny and the Crocodile Press), winner of the 2002 Towson University Prize for Literature and The Anima of Paul Bowles (MadHat), 2016 top staff pick by the Grolier Bookshop (Boston). Her poetry and fiction have been published in the Mississippi Review, Jewish Currents, and Poet Lore. Her opera Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On with William Banfield premiered in New York City June 2005. She is co-editor-in-chief of The Word Works and Word Works producer of two long running literary programs—Café Muse and the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series. She has an ear for picking up foreign language.


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