January 4, 2016

Three Poems By Caleb Allison: "And when do we embrace the madness?", "Κρητικά Χριστούγεννα", "Idol"

These poems were inspired by the local Cretan culture in Greece while being in the Navy stationed at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay on the island of Crete.  They spring from my observations of the local culture and environment as well as my feelings associated with being separated from my wife and family for long periods of time.  There is an odd juxtaposition of being able to enjoy the beauty of a paradise location but experiencing it without my wife and family and it is from this that my inspiration stems.

And when do we embrace the madness?

Look ahead to the bodiless mountains;
    They cut darkly without regret the pink sun sky
But will they sever the sinewy connections buried in my mind,
    Tying me down to this long pitted road.

The road crumbles on the edges of a sea
    Too fierce and too vast to ever really be
As frivolous thoughts ricochet out the window
    Only to float down, crumble – lost; and I wish it was me.

We all drive onward chasing;
    Even as we sense the hope on the horizon
It’s pulled to pieces by her Majesty’s mountain
    So we drive on to find what we know is waiting.

And when do we embrace the madness?
    And when do you make it a friend?
At the flayed tatters at the ends of the Earth?
    That’s where you’ll find me burying my mind in a soft patch of dirt.

 Κρητικά Χριστούγεννα

Translations and Explanations:
“Κρητικά Χριστούγεννα” - Cretan Christmas
“Όχι. Όχι.” - No. No.
“Koukouvaya” - Local Cafe

 Κρητικά Χριστούγεννα


While waiting for winter’s barred teeth        
There are only shriveled wreaths
Left to rot among felines        
Who gather precious pieces of time
Rolled up in Venetian red sheets and
Unraveled through the dirty, one-way streets.
Morning, noon, and interminable night
They wail against the red-ribboned moon;
Scavengers with no hole to call home,
Only passing through
To dump and drench
The twinkled eyes of the happy few.

All the while the dumpsters carry on the rawboned beat:

Fill, they gather – Empty, they flee.


Koukouvaya views hide behind the scattered blue
Of an endless sea between you and me;
Owls surround them and me and you
Mesmerized by the Mediterranean grip,
Held fast by the dark and burnt Christmas brew.
Derisive Hoots! Hoots! become the lullaby ornament
Hung round the necks, round the necks
Of the foreign few, around the warm cups
And around the classic converse shoe
Marching on and on
And through and through
To some shapeless end encased in grays and blues.

All the while the dumpsters carry on the rawboned beat:

Fill, they gather – Empty, they flee.


Distance feverishly inflates
Faster than the treetop star’s blinding light—
With it goes the last of the red wine’s sinewy delight,
The last of my shored up might,
The last and most painful
Goes the harbor lighthouse and her spiraled light heart.
Some cycles never waver under the shadows long reach,
Never tiring nor draining its punch fueled youth.
“Όχι. Όχι.” Speaks the space between olive green fir and fear
As the cycle’s velvet curtains close
Stupid smiles clap stupid hands
And the curtains rise up again and fan the cycle’s greedy hand.

All the while the dumpsters carry on the rawboned beat:

Fill, they gather – Empty, they flee.


I carved an idol out of her from across the barren sea,
Now only to wait and ponder if she’ll even remember me.
Sub rosa whispers bloom on puffed lips
Bringing life and love to air
Across a path carved solely for cold ships
Who carry nothing and see nothing fare.

Each night built by curved shapes and shadows dark
She plays upon the gray slate of my heart,
Dancing feverishly for the faintest spark,
Breaking down the salted sea rampart.

Midnight thunders on through the night
Catching her name in heavy drops of rain;
Yet the lighthouse reveals nothing in its bright light
So on goes my search in drenched vain.

I carved an idol out of her from across the barren sea,
Holdfast memory! As she slips silently away from me.

~Caleb Allison

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