Vassilis Zambaras

CAVEAT EMPTOR: REGARDING WARNING LABELS ON PROVOCATIVE WORKS OF LITERATURE

Please proceed
At your own discretion,
But be forewarned—
These poems contain language
That might be considered unsavory
And thus unfit for public consumption
By large portions of the hoi polloi;
On the other hand, if you’ve been served
Shit for brains, don’t
Just stand there diddling about,
Eat your fucking heart out.


EYE OPENER: LETTER TO PHILIP LARKIN

Dear Mr. Larkin,

I just finished reading your poem “This Be the Verse”
For Mr. Throckmorton A. Thrasher’s English class,
And as he wants us all to write you
Our impressions of it or else, I just want to say
I don’t remember my folks fucking me up one bit—
Come to think of it, I don’t recall them fucking at all;
From the looks of it, I guess yours did it
In plain view of everybody, including you.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas LeVoyeur III,
Clement Caning School of Interdisciplinary
Inquisitional Studies, 13 Hard Knox Lane,
Sully Hull, England


FIXATION (IN THE MANNER OF O’HARA)

I don’t have a cat
But if I did, I’d want it
To be like Frank’s great
Orange tawny one, Boris
(Armed with Madness) Butts,
The one he describes so lovingly,
Aptly in “Cantata”—
And if you want to know
Why, you’ll just have to
Part with that wild hair
Up your ass, too.


IN PASSING, SIMPLY FANTASTIC

A poem should be
A medium, let’s say
A vehicle

To spirit us away
To another world
Without us knowing it,

Just like a hearse.


INCURABLE ROMANTIC THINKING OUT OF THE BOX

I feel deep down
in my bones the moon really isn’t
the moon and the earth isn’t the earth either
and not only that but everything else
in and under the heavens
must be more than what it seems—
even the air caressing my body
smells mysteriously of moldy green cheese.


LAST MEDITATION IN AN EMERGENCY

I’ve had it with your mantras—
I bet if Frank were here,
He’d say something like

A sure-fire way to stop clutter
Cluttering your head is to stop
Wondering why

Sirens sing in your ear.


THROWBACK

I thought once I returned
To the motherland, I’d remember
Things I’d long forgotten—

How silly to think one could
Go back and fetch memories
As if they were sticks

To be retrieved and you
A mere puppy playing
At being a man.


THE ULTIMATE WRITING WORKSHOP POEM

“. . .and suddenly everything became clear to him.”

Ok, let’s stand back a bit and look
At this fragment of a sentence
From a distance—it comes to us
From a story by Chekhov;

Raymond Carver mentions it
In one of his essays on writing
But does not tell us its name
Or what it is about; it could be

About anything, that much is clear—
So what say we leave it at that,
Fast forward instead and imagine
This sentence as your epitaph.


VASSILIS ZAMBARAS b in Greece, returned there after 25 years in the USA; recently retired from teaching ESL at the language school he founded in 1977 in Meligalas. Three small books of poetry: Sentences (Querencia, 1976), Aural (Singing Horse, 1984) and In Credible Evidence, a foldout booklet of poems (Longhouse, 2010). Poems in the anthology How the Net Is Gripped: A Selection of Contemporary American Poetry (Stride, UK, 1992) and Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams, (U of Iowa Press, 2011). Published in Poetry Salzburg Review, The London Magazine, First Intensity, Arabesques Review, Shearsman, Poetry Northwest, The Salt River Review, etc.  Has an unpublished third collection titled The Intricate Evasions of As.

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