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Kalymnos: November 29, 1968

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1

pavlos

looking out
to sea

explains:

son costa,
20, will be
coming home

went with a
sponge caiqui
to nearby
island

a storm
came up:

the boat
was smashed
& sunk

the boys
all got
ashore

& will be
coming home

in another
caiqui



    2

late at
night

i saw
them

costa &
the others

they’d saved
the sponges
too

unloaded them
first

in burlap
bags

then hoisted
them onto
their backs

trotted up
the stone
steps

plodded up
a steep
hill

at mid-
night

mid-
night

to the
store-
house



    3

at 5
in the
morning

at the
cafeneion

the captain
described

the wreck:

the boat
had turned
over &
over

in the
water

churning it

like a
propell-
er



    4

costa

went by
later

on his
motor-
cycle

(tall &
sombre)

riding
like an
indian



    5

spiro

(young
gypsy)

fishes
off the
dock

when he
isn’t

climbing
hills

& selling
blankets



    6

what can
you do?

i get
bored

around
the house

the children
crying

fighting

can’t sit
all day

in the
cafeneion

so i
fish



    7

after an
hour

he rolls
in his
lines

teaches
me two
words

in the
romany
tongue

for ‘no
fish’

(in the
plural)



    8

pat
mos

pat
mos

an
gels

an
gels

kaly
mnos

kaly
mnos

men

kaly
mnos

kaly
mnos

men

pat
mos

pat
mos

an
gels

an
gels

kaly
mnos

kaly
mnos

men



    9

stergo

has a
tired
eye

bright
but
weary

when he
looks
at you

he looks
into
you

his eye
takes
the place

of what-
ever

you were
think-
ing



    10

his café
is near
the customs
house

(& the
pier)

he keeps
it open

till late
at night

& opens
again

at 5 in
the morn-
ing

if ever
his cus-
tomers

find it
closed

they walk
right by

(& won’t
drink

coffee
anyplace
else)



    11

in the
endless
city

the end-
less city

the beg-
gars are
in one
place

the cops
in an-
other

the fine
people
here

& the
poor
people

there

(each has
his parish

each his
precinct)

in the endless

endless

endless

city

This poem appears courtesy of the Robert Lax Literary Trust, the Robert Lax Archives at St. Bonaventure University, and Paul Spaeth, archivist.
Source: Poetry (December 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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Kalymnos: November 29, 1968

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