James Nikopoulos – associate professor at Nazarbayev University and the author of The Stability of Laughter. In addition to his academic work, James poetry and creative nonfiction has appeared in a variety of places, including CityMetric, The Awl, Eidolon, Eunoia Review, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
a trip of three
steps down the palate
on the teeth.
I can only be sure she’s got me
when her name begins
in my lungs
and rolls down my tongue
like Agamemnon’s corpse
crossing my teeth
along a crimsoned carpet.
I carve death with the scythe of my profile.
My snakes like liars announce me in hisses
and the hisses dance like jelly on gilded dishes.
I condemn like God with no patience for motives
and no time for trial.
I grin mercy in the hips of my profile.
My face is faceless since death is endless.
Who has survived my beauty’s magnificence?
You then cannot accuse me of motives.
A face be faceless
if its beauty be deathless.
So be like the heroes before their mirrors
and tempt me with your words;
I am the face upon which your lies have merged
All death is deathless if its face go unobserved.
“Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi”
– Cesare Pavese
When death comes it will have your eyes.
It will have my voice.
It will smell of nothing.
In that order.
I figure it must work the way love does
in the air when you’re stalking it,
yourself when you’re losing it,
everywhere, when it’s gone.
The Calendar Requiem
winter be a siren season
summer her Odysseus greed
spring unlike autumn
be a death that bleeds in each
If winter but not spring then let summer fall
and fall deeply
to where the shoots show green
Unlike a tomorrow,
a year wrinkles as you watch.
All poems on this post: © James Nikopoulos
Published with the permission of James Nikopoulos