Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

War Diary

When the Olympic Games were held in Athens 2004, Hatto Fischer of Poiein kai Prattein went ahead to connect poets to the Olympic Truce. The outcome was a publication Poetry Connection: Poets and the Olympic Truce 2004 on the website of Poiein kai Prattein of five closed themes and five open for further interactions e.g. tram poetry. Katerina Anghelaki Rooke made her contribution to the book called Entries into the War Diary.



13th Day

or Now on land!

The heavenly battles descend on the soil

and death returns to earth:

its place of origin.

High flashes accompany it;

it is the only luxury left to the corpses.

Indeed, how did evil change direction!

From below, its immediate action would start:

from mud, hoofs of animals

boots, swamps and it would rise

up to the black clouds and the innocent souls.

Now the desert,

as I imagine it with countless pink shades

sand breasts

breathing in the desert wind

a secret body

with its dark oases hidden under

impartial spectator of disaster

conquered by parachutes.

From above downwards now

the evolution of bleeding flesh;

heaven a past in flames

will be forgotten

and the good will be thrust in the earth

buried deep, very deep in memory.












14th Day

or the abolition of inner space

I am a speck of sand

taken in by black waters.

The place is flooded and the boundaries

separating the two spaces lost:

the inner one where memories grow

together with weed-fears, grass-hopes

and the outside one choking in the dirty scourge

of the latest news.

When was the boundary destroyed?

Lava, sewers, waste

pour into my inside self unimpeded

- my inner life has been abolished.

I am thinking of getting hold of a little branch of tenderness

to remember your birthday

years ago in a snow-covered landscape.

But your body weighs on me

like all those dead ones

and those eyes of yours

–their color that of a shuddering reptile–

were narrated to me

by inconsolable mothers

painted for me by crying girls

and wounded boys.

How was I so plundered

without ever stepping out of my room

and the private garden

of my sorrow when I saw you leaving

became a collective tomb?

How is it that I,

who was so involved with the skirmishes

between the visible and the invisible

ended up a fanatic viewer

of the most recent broadcasted horror?


15th Day

Or the lesson


ForPedro Mateo

We said we would have our lesson again today

As if nothing…as if nothing…

All of us humans without “power”

“popular mandate”

Or some “sacred duty” calling us.

Language we said

Language the eternal joker!

What does “mascara” mean?

The additional face! Funny, eh?

Words, tiny surprises

With their simple meaning,

Their complex function….

Abruptly we stopped laughing;

We thought that even language

Sounds insane these days…

Night fell, we switched the light on

And saw how dark our glance was.

Reality gives us the most thorough teachings

And this knowledge is first a heavy could

That crushes you

Before becoming a light sheet

That covers you.

16th Day

Or the End of the person


I was going towards sleep

With my head full

Of smoke from the burned earth,

And my heart squeezed

By invisible pincers.

And while every night

I imagine the end of my person

As others pray

I found tonight on my pillow

A gift given to me by war:

The insignificance of my death.

17th Day

Or One more Elegy


All quiet on the front today

The only thing they didn’t tell us was how many

Scorched ones they pushed into the sand.

I wondered if the desert

Rejects alien bodies

As our poor body does…

Night is falling; I am reading letters

From between the Wars: they correspond

And kiss through words

Without knowing if they will ever meet

Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Rilke.

18th Day

Or The new order of things


I dreamed

That I was in the old love nest

But everything was changed:

Walls had collapsed

New rooms had appeared

Whiter than lilies

With nurses all in white

Inviting me in.

“You know, I used to come here years ago…”

I said as if I were apologizing

While with my eyes I licked the corner

Where the mattress used to be.

It looked now like something rubbed out

In a child’s copy book

Or like the snout of a wild-boar

Sunk in the green mould

Covering an ancient stone.

A sweetish smell sprang from the spot

Which did not remind

The old supine one

Of anything anymore

“The new order of things”

I whispered waking up.

19th Day

Of What we know about sleep

“We do not know where

The knowledge of sleep rests”

Said the professor on Television

-         between two assaults in the Gulf –

and added that the more minute

the animal is, the less it sleeps.

Look at the bird

That hangs from a high branch;

It knows

That if it falls asleep

Intoxicated by the divine blue

It’ll lean downwards

The branch will break

And who knows in what abysmal

Dead man’s arms it’ll fall

If it deeply sleeps

If it deeply dreams of heaven.

20th Day

Or The little phrase

The sun is like a mirror today

With brown spots appearing on the surface

And the reflection of an uncertain shape

Standing instead of an image.

The life-giving content of vegetation

The expressions of passion

And the beautiful decorations of decay

Everything is tedious this hour

That motionless resembles an animal

When it sniffs its last moment

Even if it doesn’t know

How the divine can smell!

And suddenly in this soup of existence

A little phrase comes up to the surface

From deep down, from the bog of dreams.

Unexpected, forgotten, playful, childish

With its sounds unmolested by time

A little phrase, a gold-fly

Flew in from the open window:

“Coming, ready or not!”

Days Later


The moral is always in prose


I re-read the War poems. I observe how the despair of the others

became my own myth. My inner life has just come back and its

suitcases are full of impressions. But why was I in such a hurry to

write down my reactions to all these frightful but so remote events

of the time?

It is because my hidden person has topped telling stories to my

visible one. Like bodiless heads all my stories float in a colourless

substance that is not even memory.

Who went where and fate was spoiled? Who unbuttoned his shirt?

Who locked the door? How is it possible that I cannot narrate all

The visits of death?

I got involved in foreign wars because in my heart the traces of my

last passionate campaign have disappeared.

Katerina Anghelaki Rooke



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