The Peregrine Muse

Poetry of Kostas Hrisos

The honey-jar wasp-trap

is set.

Sticky, syrupy, viscous liquid.
light refracting, ruby
allures them to,
such a sweet, death!

They buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz no more around our ears,
but hummmm in harmony in this
honey-jar, gyrating in a bizarre,
desirable, mass-suicide.

They stand on bodies,
pushing the weakest down
giving their last whirr whirling
to break out; in vain!

Listen to the drone
as they drown, drown, drown.

My father

My father would not do
any domestic chores;
could not cook
or do the dishes.

We run out of clean clothes;
we went out & bought some new.
We ran out of clean dishes;
we went out & ate at restaurants

that is until mother returned home
from a short stay at the hospital.

She wasn’t quite sure
she should be happy
we could not cope
without her.

A perfect moment

Eyes level to the sea
Raindrops explode
Water-crowns splash
Faces red as apples
Bobbing disappear
Into the blue

The surface the sky
The sun water-paint

Which way is
The rain falling?

Hey Dad can I borrow the car?

And so what if Phaethon
stole his father’s flaming chariot
and burned to the ground a few villages,
and froze to death one or two towns?
I would do the same given half the chance
to ride solo the chariot of the Sun,
even at my age!


Pomegranates, explode.
Figs flesh bursting.
Grapes bleeding.
Melons under the knife.
Apples chopped
and coconuts smashed.
Bananas skin peeled.
Garlic crushed.
Olives stoned.
Black-eyed beans.
Tomatoes squashed,
black and blue aubergines.
Potatoes dust themselves and rub
bruised courgettes
with dandelions.
Ladyfingers stroke
onions full of tears.
Thyme scented honey,
olive oil mixed with oregano:

My grandmother’s advice

She spits on her fingertips
that pull the wool
into a fine thread.
"Don’t fret", she says
and spins the spindle with such a spin
I forget to cry,
"Just spit on it,
it’s the best medicine for little scratches".

To Dionysus

Come bless me you Dionysus
Who inspired us Greeks
With your primitive festivities
And mysterious ceremonies
Unhindered by priesthood,
In ecstasy,
To cast off inhibitions and taboos
And to see in a brighter, new light
Man's relation to the world
And logically search for reason
And the trough.

The High-Raised Flats

They are knocking down the flats
by the coast road.
Ordinary lives,
still echoing around
on a blue wallpaper strip
of the child’s bedroom,
on gaping kitchen’s drawers,
muffled by the abandoned sofa.
From a broken window
on the ground floor
aided by draughts
through a missing door
a dirty red curtain is flapping
the cape of the matador
inciting the bulldozer;
it had enough of the intrusive
assumptions of passers-by.

The Cave

The cave is one of Argos's
most prominent features,
but for us it was
our play ground.
That was our castle.
There we fought
with stones,
wooden swords,
bows and arrows
and capsule pistols
Persians and Indians
cowboys and gangsters,
defending it to the death.
I would like to take you up there
and show you my name
proudly scratched on its walls,
marking out my territory,
but kids don't play there anymore,
and old Peter who was
using it as his lair
died some years ago,
so the undergrowth has overgrown.

You couldn't go anywhere near it
without scratching your legs
and arms as in a battle.
My daughter loved it;
when we went up there
a few years ago.
I didn't.

Off School

Punishing heat.
Bumpy, dusty dirt road
behind Prophetess Elias.
Skiving from school,
riding our bikes as fast as we could.

You’ve been there
many a time.
You could go even
with your eyes shut;
and no hands!
I shouldn’t have followed in
that narrow ditch.
I didn’t know it was
levelling out further along.
I shouldn’t have tried to
turn out of it,
no, not at that speed,
and certainly not at that angle.

What a great job
your grand mother did:
Red iodine,
black head-scarf.
Patched me up
in no time.

Only this tiny scar
on my chest
reminds me of
the little gold cross
I lost that day:
my grandmother’s present.


As my scanner slashes with its sharp light
through thousands of faded shades of grey
it disturbs your peaceful rest.

And as I touch you with my cursor
restoring you to your original glory
its gentle strokes wake you up.

And as my printer bathes you
in millions of shades of bright colours
injecting life in your world you stir.

And suddenly you rear out of the paper
reclaiming your rightful place in our life.

And everybody's lips mention your name again.
"Look at my great-great-grandmother, Mary,
the spitting image of my son, Yanni,
her great-great-great-grandson.

"And this is my great-grandfather, John,
he has the eyes of my young daughter
his great-great-granddaughter, Nina.

Old photographs digitally re-mastered
putting us in touch with our past.


Today the wind was rattling my window
more than ever.

I wedged a piece of paper in the gap.
It was your letter.

I am...

I am but a wedge in a gap of space,
a tick in a lapse of time.
Dreams push my life back and forth,
as I get bigger with the sun going down
as I get smaller with the sun coming up.
To give up hope is fatal.
When you stop thinking of me
I am no longer.

That's Me

My body, a bed sheet,
Spread out on the bed of pleasure,
Stained from the excesses
Of my senses.

My soul, a tablecloth,
Spread out on the table of knowledge,
Stained from the banquets
Of my mind.

That's me, a frail curtain,
Hung out on the line of life
Weathered by time.

This Scar

This scar on my right arm
Is not from a fearsome battle,
Nor from a sporting accident,
Not even from racing on a circuit
Or from a marshal bout in a Dodjo.

This scar on my right arm
Is not from an infamous fight
With a drunken sod at a club,
Or from a fight with a hooligan
At a football match,
Or from a clash with a policeman.

This scar on my right arm is the result
Of a momentary lapse of concentration
While getting a pizza out of the oven.


It’s so much more difficult to learn

a dance that has no steps.

A single note from a
three-string bouzouki
from its long neck in
its round belly
in the hollows of
the heart
stirs the nerves.

Knees bent, as if he’s praying.
Fists clenched, as if he’s cursing.
Feet stamp the earth, as if it’s her fault.
Arms outstretched; ready to take flight.

*Zempekiko: a Greek dance

Bouzouki: a Greek musical instrument

Nut & Bolt

Spiral threads perfectly match.

Stretched tightened up.

Secure for quite a while now, rusted.

To loosen:
tighten slightly first
heat up with an intense flame
use some corrosive spray.

Do not use a large spanner,
it will strip the threads away
or they will break.

Just like them

In a Holy Bible
At the bottom of a drawer

The Holy Trinity,
Angels, Demons,
The Virgin Mary,
Apostles, Devils,
The Four Horsemen,
Among so many others.

Some move with such dexterity
In half-tone grey landscapes,
Sleeves rolled up ceremoniously,
Talking in hushed and weird tones,
deliberate their predicament,
Yearning for attention.

Others demonstrate discontent,
Shouting out loud
As in a march, or at a football ground.
Demanding my attention.

I hear them all.
I don’t answer.

Span of attention

Your eyes

scanned the scenery

in millions of Dots Per Inch.

Your brain

processed the data

in milliseconds

(faster than the average

span of attention),

rejected the information,

and averted the eyes.

The dilapidated pot

I look OK, for my age.

Without a head, just

a big mouth that looks even bigger opened up.

No legs, just one arm;

But what do you expect?

I’m not a Greek Urn.


I was blessed
With the labour of the golden wheat
Bread for the body

I was blessed
With the labour of the fleshy grape
Wine for the blood

I was blessed
With the labour of the sweet olive
Oil for the kantili

Kantili: the little light that burns with olive oil, in front of the icons.

To the researcher into Alzheimer’s Disease requesting donation

of “brain tissue (see whole brain)” from a sufferer, after death.

You must be joking, I said,
I won’t let you in my head

not until I’m really dead
and maybe not even then.


At first, misreading your name as
”Haron”, I thought you were named after
”Haros”, the boatman who carries the souls to their place of rest
Painted on a stone that
We throw behind our backs, meaning “never to return here again”
You fit the name but look nothing like him.

The scoop

I think it’s a pumpkin but
it’s too small to provide
enough scoop for a pie
or many seeds for passatempo1.
But I’m sure it does a great job
watering a thirsty mouth.

1 dry roasted pumpkin seed.

Sea, my love

I dive into her watery body, I reach the sandy bed
and untie the ribbon.

Her hair flies loose, spraying the rocky shore
with a fine, salty mist.

I kiss her on the mouth.

Suddenly the lighthouse flashes!
She blushes,
as I come to my senses.

This Life

Agreed, yes; but this life’s without end. (Odysseas Elytis)

This life,
drags some of us by the scruff of the neck,
carries some of us upon its shoulders;
and to what end?
To life’s no end my friend.

To life’s no end.

Easter-Sunday Eve

Easter-Sunday Eve, in the old cemetery.
It’s drizzling and a bit windy,
the candles are flickering,
the faithful are chanting quietly.

Suddenly the gravestones take flight,
they hover above our heads for a while,
not long enough to read the names,
and then they disappeared into the ether,
to the right.

Leaving the smoke from the incense
to keep us dizzy
and the dead in the damp earth.

I See the Light

I see the light
Somewhere in the distance
I am not scared.
Even if it's only a candle
And it goes off, by the time I reach it,
I will light another.

Kostas Hrisos was born in Thessalonica, in the north of Greece, and now lives in Newcastle, England where he obtained an MSc in Information Systems and a MA in Creative Writing. He teaches IS, M. Greek, Photography and Creative Writing at a local college.  His award-winning poetry has been published in many Greek and international magazines, websites and anthologies; currently he is working on his first novel. He reads at poetry events in London, and in Newcastle upon Tyne at Morden Tower and in Athens. A collection of poems, in other words, was published in August, 2000. Kostas manages He is married and the father of three children.

Kostas Hrisos, photographer