On the side of darkness, infinity

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Selected poems



On the side of darkness, infinity;

on the other, a sixty watt bulb.

— Paul Hoover, 'Darkness of the Subjunctive'


January was misbehaving:

The stars coughed all night

Cold fragrant air

Rows of mean little houses

In subdued light

Peeking through the keyhole of her mind

     into a stranger's house

Her seduction giving way

     to his destruction

Dissipating into happiness

The kind known from hearsay

Smiles and sighs followed one another

He the mind of winter

She: silent angular

A presence withdrawing

Still incalculably potent

The eyes:

A charm offensive

Dark so dark

Always a 'yes' hidden in them

Women of easy virtue and difficult vice:

They make a desert, and call it love.

How does he manage to get by

     with only one sense of humour?

She asked

With all her soul in her eyes

Moving her lips

     with vibrating intensity

     as though reading a prayer secreto

He didn't finish his answer

     but the yearning of her look finished it for him

And nothing in the world stirred

But their own hearts

His pre-emptive emotions

And nuclear trigger

Worsted as the years went on

Always afraid of going away

Hugging and hating the solitude

Of his overcrowded mind

Measuring his days by nights

But even the night was never night enough

Lovers of half-shades

Her natural malice

His imaginal present

Lingering, tasting, digesting

Her vaginal future

Feeling the farewell

Could never really tell, because

Yes and No are lies

Believe it, make-believe it

I can't choose! I can't decide!

We might not suit one another.

If we do — then

And all the thrill lay in that then ...

All in the hope

The tremulous hope.

We do not know what we want

And we do not want what we know.

Like shadows hanging in the air

Their threads of reality unravelling

Absenting themselves from the world:

She said time erases life,

He said let's be timeless.

She said it would be dark,

He said he hated daylight.

She said it would be lonely,

He said he prostituted his mind talking to people.

She said he is mad,

He said may God preserve him from sanity.

She said: God will.

And God did.



'Love your enemies and hate your friends,'

We were taught,

She said,

Speaking at a distance

     from her body

So that when receiving a call from the outside

world she always said:

     always regard


     mine and theirs

     with side-glances

The clever liar

And lover of prey

Her hermetic arts

Equalled only by the wisdom

Of German philosophers:

     whatever coming into their head

     elevated at once into a Law of Thought

Gorging myself on

Her mass-produced gew-gaws

Effects without cause

Delicious breasts

Hair on fire

Sweet as barbed wire

Slashing the skies

With seeking gipsy eyes

     grey-blue and limpid

     under frowning brows

Under moon at the full

Lessons never learned


Playing the poet of the party

In professional costume

In an advanced state of decomposition:

     long hair, velvet coat, eyeglass and all

Sleepwalking through air-bathed halls

Twenty-six hours a day

Feverishly aglow

In the depths of the future

In her pocket

     the wretched pocket sun

Not knowing how to write the wrongs

Because she never answers

Watery words

Words short of breath

Mourned and muted by a winged Thought

That took what it wanted

And with what was left didn't bother

Lying now in the arms of another

Lying again

Promising everything

As to me:

     'If you can't love to absurdity…'

Both wrapped

Like gifts from long-lost relations

Her connections

     as electric as

     introducing zero into mathematics

My projections

     cast somewhere between

sickness and euphoria

As she recited Keats

     as she was climaxing

A cruel echo of fun

In a world where there's none

Exhausted mirror of memories

and madnesses

Choked on desire

Convinced of love

at least until dawn

The first invasion of the dawn

At the first opportunity

Sucking the juice from the apple

Spitting the seed from the mouth

Then fleeing

Stranded in an empty car park

Car stolen

Under the darkness of the day

Houses of the street

Gaze at one another

With sombre faces

As hunger stalks the sky

Buildings look sadly down

Saturating Saturdays with holes

     and Sundays with small crosses of dust.

'I would cry,

     if I could remember how

     and if I had the tears,'

You said, but you don't

and I can't.

Life is too full of death

     for us to add anything to it.



It's alright

My love for the past is like my love

for most things. I only feel it when

I'm gone. Best to stay gone

so I'm always in love.

— Fatimah Asghar, 'My Love for Nature'


Your Latin American body, nude lips, unfurled brunette hair

Were the snare that liberated.

I have dated countless women, but you're the only one I regret letting go.

I have said I Love You to many, but to you I didn't.

I have said I Love You numerous times and not meant it, and yet to you I would have.

The same story every night:

In my sleep you said I said, 'Everything we cannot see is here.'

Good luck? Bad luck? Who can say?

Only your embrace didn't wrap itself around me like a viper and its prey

Until the struggle, even the breath, fade away.

I showed you a poem I had written about you

And you disliked it because, you said, it made you sad.

You were always like that:

Beaten and bruised, your spirit surpassed

Death and its declensions.

Both of us recently divorced

We would escape to the mountains and the sharpened air

Driving in the wintry sunshine of the steep sky:

You were like a bomb about to go off in my hands

You would turn the music up to the max

Stick your head out the window and sing at the top of your voice.

The effect: extraterrestrial.

I knew, you knew

We were the only true gods on earth

Because we created

Something out of nothing:

Spanish verbs in Aegean grammar

All sweetness and silence.

But now you have disappeared, and seek as I might

I can't find you

Or another you.

But that's Alright.

It's going to be Alright because I know you exist somewhere.

No, not even that:

It's going to be Alright because I know that at some time, in some place, we shared the difficult beauty together

And in that moment, minute and immense,

You taught me how to forget forever.




NN TrakakisN. N. Trakakis is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Australian Catholic University. His most recent poetry collection is Appearance and Reality.

Topic tags: N. N. Trakakis, poetry



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Existing comments

Thank you, I want to read these again straight away, having just read them now. Despite the length of each the economy of words and imagery is striking.
Tony Kelly | 19 September 2017


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