Issue > Poetry
Christopher Bakken

Christopher Bakken

Christopher Bakken is the author of three books of poetry--most recently Eternity & Oranges (Pitt Poetry Series, 2016)--as well as the culinary memoir Honey, Olives, Octopus (Univ. of California, 2013). He teaches at Allegheny College and is Director of Writing Workshops in Greece: Thessaloniki & Thasos.

Days of 1993

He'd leave the village to its dust,
hike a shepherd-trail over the ridge
and pitch his tent in a hidden inlet
where no one would see the driftwood fire.

Every day, he'd follow unmarked roads
along the coast—perfectly alone,
swimming and sobbing, splayed
with the lizards on those temples of marl.
Sometimes he'd push on for an hour, then stop
to write the same line over again
in the blank book he kept inside his pack.

Always thirst. Always wild sage.
And as many sea urchins as gods.
Juniper, ravaged by the awful sun.

There was someone he might have loved
in Vouvourou, further up the coast.
And always Cavafy, calling from Egypt.
It was over soon, that wonderful life.
Like that, he began: waterless,
wind-wrenched, cleaving to rock.

Sunday Morning

It's better, now, to state the obvious:
we sprawled in that rented bed all morning,
stunned by what we'd done to one another.

Of course we were beautiful to look at,
streaked with sweat like just-galloped horses
and still atwitch, though only then unsaddled.

Rumors of our excess should be believed.
Fellow citizens, we voted with our tongues.
When the President called, we let it ring.

Bad hankerings and our mad circus music.
Benedictions at the altar of Tom Waits.
Our diet of foie gras and heavy cream.

It's true we offered meat to foreign dogs.
When barbarian hordes rode in on mules,
we didn't bother to lock the front gate.

In fact, we'd both agreed, the night before,
not to bathe, nor cease in our debasement,
until this place knew we were here to stay.


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