Dismissed from Military Service


now there is no ESA any more
voices of sergeants to rip away your dreams
wives of majors who want their kitchens scrubbed
no thirsting for a little warmth in the barracks every night
smoking one cigarette after another

now
without military belt or beret
the dirty army boots give me a notion of freedom
an unbuttoned chest means that I am my own master
and here's the small cord with which I cleaned my gun
I shall keep it to remind me of inspections

I'd like to buy something before I leave
a bit of ribbon for my sister a toy or two for the children
but my pockets are as empty as my heart
I'd like to wander through the streets once more
and see Salonika for the last time
but I've no feet any more I've no eyes
I'm not even in the mood for talk
my mind is always sailing off to my village

horses 8, men 40
(let this be our last ordeal
the last reward from our country)
but why does this sudden jolt so squeeze my heart?
all we have gone through is nothing in comparison
to what we may face before us
unemployment, drought, crop failure
the daily agony for a loaf of bread
the children crying and father's pension small
and our uncle in America merely promises

there is no end to this military service


                                  Greek; trans. Kimon Friar


Dinos Christianopoulos, Greek, trans. Kimon Friar, The Poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos: An Introduction, Pella Publishing, 1979.