Spiros Vergos

was born in Athens in 1945. He studied at Pandios University of Political studies. In 1967 under the dictatorship he left Greece for political exile. He lived in Switzerland, England and Netherlands and after the fall of the dictatorship in Greece returned to Athens, established a publishing company and worked as journalist. When the socialist government came to power in Greece he was named Press Counsellor for European Community and NATO in Brussels. His political career has brought him to the Embassy of Greece in Prague in 1994 and he has been living here since then. He published 3 collections of poems, Anonymities, Account of Death and Roots in Time, and an essay book of his most characteristic opinion columns with a prologue by the late Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Andreas Papandreou. A collection of his poems translated into Czech and English is being prepared for publication at the 9th Prague Writers’ Festival.
Account of a Death

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.



The legends are couched, embalmed for ever within books
about the guilt of memory
and how the times had once betrayed us.
Silent were the steps in the chambers of time
as I put on the mask of Agamemnon.

"Murder..." and the echoe "by murder is resolved".

torpor-stricken on Troy's voluptuous couches
in mid-winter cafés
laden with elderly women
specked with earrings and reflections.
Years and years of expectation
stained with my blood,
squandered over carefree summers
among the nude bodies of girls
drowned under fruitless times and recollections.

Athena, Mary, Myrto.
Come autumn,
the salt in their veins turned to sweat
with the first gust of bitterness.
The past of my skeletal city
this God-forsaken clod
vast ghostly host of leprous statues.
Shreds of wilted lives
in the conscience of a headless society.
Fearsome Fury blowing through our kisses
smudged with blood and impotent oaths,
admission of the ancient injured longing.
When the assassins
raped the pain with ethics and compasses
and seized the thrones
to be worshipped in times to come
as heroes.

I have steeped my soul in the smell of brine
sown by the spray
from far-away love-leaps of the waves.
The sailors whispered echoes
of the Sirens'long-drawn sobs
a lament
on the voyage begun
before the clay was given form
before the knowledge-seeking verse.
We dispersed on the decks of ships
in the cracks between rotting planks
with but the wind for weary monologue
memories roosting on the masts
harsh death-rattle for doomed infants
drowned in the fonts of revenge.
Our longing a mere ballast in the holds of oblivion
as the acts fell apart
away from the beaches of lovely contrasts
and houses bathed in sunlight.

Many a year have I lain dead
my memory gone stale in hesitation.

My solitude, my eyes.

In this country no one is alive
while murder grins under street headlamps
faces of friends are pressed to a pulp
a great yoke weighs upon their vowels.
One of them vanished at the sound of the ocean
another faded out at the thought of the past
a third was hanged in the basements of the.
For fifteen inexhaustible nights
his dreams spat out into buckets
blood blending with hatred
hopes uselessly spent.
He still roams and gathers remnants of himself
weeps on the edges of the city.

After the collapse of illusions
came the wreck of our rust-eaten conscience
as for us, bewildered, we crossed the borders
while the crowds cringed with fear.

I then heard you mutter
"The cost of the child's education
the cost of medicines
fire-wood for heating
and Helen wants an ISOLA fridge".
Whole generations are winding up in Hades
yesterday's victim still raving beyond death
our faith trampled flat
by the feet of neurotic statues.
Who is left, I wonder,
who may still know the truth.
I leafed through an old spelling-book of the will
nostalgia gone senseless.
Violence: charred bits of shame
- like a failed sketch
drawn by some humanistic architect -
toy soldiers
compromises and childish obstination.
Treason revisited
monotonous promenade of death.
Those who survived
deposited their actions
in pension funds
- eight hundred and three drachmas
before stamp tax and deductions.
We, dressed in white, together with Kroton
demanded revenge or succession
doubt in the soul was our solace
in the struggle against rival time.

Red flutes are belching forth some mangled Orphic tunes
our people
laden with worn out symbols
its lips alive with wily prophesies
drinks nectar
and fresh blood
out of the calyx of its life.
Our friends' broken skulls
offered alive to the leaders
who adorned their own parlour
with the fruits of our fight.
Every legend a way of life
a lament slow to die
a shroud for fresh corpses.
I wore the mask of Agamemnon
a refusal or excuse
for the years that were lost
and those that lie in wait
for my blood-soaked enemies
in coffins that have no present.
At dusk the distant vision of cities without hope
Athens, Rome, Byzantium
born of an anonymous longing
a marriage of conflict and fruitlessness.

"Murder..." and the echo "by murder is resolved".

While half demented lovers
yearned for oneness with lightning
but received bullets in their chests
the rest of us retreated
dragging unchiselled statues
by the groans of betrayed battles.

The grieving harbours dressed in red
funeral tolls
rang out the tumult of our will
in non-existence.

For one last time
the girls were poisoned by fatal desires
the boys were lapidated
in the sun-lit cemeteries.
With alabaster bodies
white hair
swollen breasts
sacrificers and sacrificed
smile in an astonished silence
at the metamorphosis of Charon
from youthful sensuous disdain
to the deep slumber of time.

September is the month of death
a yellow decomposition
detritus of summer
in the hollowed out streets.
Drops of lemon flood the memory
as my shadow fades out
at the moment of defence.


The wheezing breath of the wind
has scattered the detritus of time
a polymorphous death sprouts forth
from the core of the sun's kaleidoscope
consuming yesterday's city.
Apparent death
adorned with gardens and shells
and feelings exceedingly Greek
born and expired unchristened.

Anything Greek a sun-drenched death.

Someone has solved the crossword of adjustment
gathered the implements of Charon
nets, hooks and baits,
and back to the suicidal city.
Only extinguished time has shape
in this land when all is to be paid for
Paris's sins
Jules Vernes's excesses
and the impaled head of Aris.
With wire rope patrols block off the streets
with poisoned spears
run-aways are recaptured.
And we, gaping mouths full of "bravos" and "vivas"
copying the interests of terror
reflecting the splendour of survival.

The artists are nestling on the depths
of timidity
with this iconoclastic faith in wonders
in visions safely bottled
and much more of the same
carefully sealed within the memory.
Idols without a face
in the distorting mirrors of power
petrify hopes on paper
lecturing others on what they ought
to have done years ago and did not do.
Their thoughts like lepers whisper
some tragic little stories
prophesies and fairytales
as befits the occasion.

The poet fights in dream
with machine guns, faint smiles and moth-eaten marbles
breaks down his visions into percentage points
blood, submission, blood
turns from man to memory
from injury to traitor.
Like rusty mementoes they creep up his acts,
the look in her eyes
the pouting of sweet lips
the feel of flesh on memory.
Fragments of wound that germinate
patched up in the bandages of time.

Listen to the wind
blowing down the alleys of time
drying the garden herbs
killing the poppies
that blossomed in our eyes.
Listen to the moans of the Pleiades
silent lovemaking torn to shreds in chaos
virgin birth of fear.
Listen to your own timid conscience
as in the dead of night they beckon,
as they surround you, mutilated statues.
Listen to the whimpering tambourine
a discordant lament
for the dead you forgot
for the dead you will forget.
Listen to the shuddering tambourine.

The night engulfed the will of our companions
an age-old guilt that will not abate
as the cities track down
their ancestral sins
their History as it stands
without justification
like a hideous rodent of time.
Two skeletons on the pavement
a muffled vengeful cry
for us who trampled them rashly
unable to distinguish friends
from ghosts.

Awkwardly romantic people
drink wine
from the skulls of live apes
chiselled into their eyes
the history of remorse
their guilt swimming along
within the blood of Jackson.
I no longer distinguish murder
from indifference.
Anything Greek a sun-drenched death
fear of being fused into detail.

A deathly lament cloaks the land
our lives like crowns of thorns
ablaze and wounding the night
death silently crackling
with all thousand mouths licking
the acts.
Ashes on the skin remains
of a sun-smoked happiness
and to the beat of a military band
we have slashed the veins of flowers.

In the river of oblivion
Charon slew the shadows of the justice-hunters
treacherous governments
hacked and killed the will of popular heroes
and went on to proclaim
honoured children of the Nation
by Greeks you were begotten".
They then worked relentlessly
those execution squads
we were relieved of monophysites
iconoclasts and icon-worshippers
piners for the past
and seers of the future.
We now rehash obsolete dreams
fleshless desires
and our young popular heroes
scrape remorse with their nails
like the manure of Augeias.

The magicians of our time
are charlatans.

Unrepentant poets have stayed
recording their hatred in verse
perversely conversing with remorse
and the gypsies
haggling over dead souls
every Sunday afternoon
with a PR from National Composts.
They spend their profits on magic packs of cards
and they sell hopes
to the crowds flocking to their tents
seeking to buy death out at cut price.


The gangrenous hoarfrost of time
rolls over the fresh skin
of a truth newly become
a polychromous fun-fair of fear.
A useless myth revisited
when yesterday's and today's traitors
served at the supper of hospitality
singed in the most exquisite fashion
the flesh of our generation.
Painting some Easter allegory
over the country that once nurtured
the seed of dawning centuries.
Willingly weaving the goddess's veil
remote reminder of a fresco
from torch-lit Panathenian processions
on which the wise and chaste Pallas
drove her lance deep into wayfarers
boring a hole in their hearts
so that the sun may freely enter.

They even stole our voices
and whatever else was left
thus gaining a few medals
while we gained our freedom.
He who thinks freely thinks soundly
he who has naught to lose is free.
Clusters of dreams within the womb doubt
our final offering to those who will come
to those who will admire the outcome
without learning the reason.

Our own unending Odyssey
descended from day-dreams
and ill-fated prophesies.
Our companions meet in pigsties
for joyless conspiracies
having smashed mirrors in the rubbish-dump
of freedom - to blot out the sun's corpse
beheaded like Medusa's
and swinging from the sky's shrivelled hands.

And then they killed the butterflies
clutched in the hands of children
to show how brave they were.
The village teachers
these well-known shapers of public opinion
falsified algebric equations
striving to demolish our myth.

You are playing with fire - Circe the witch said to Odysseus.
Assassin wanted as associate - answered
the echo of his offspring.

They set blocks of flats ablaze
shot burning arrows from the sun's bow
that rises after rain
and in a sack held under their arms
they gathered the keepsakes
thrown by people out of linen chests
as if they no longer saw fit
to cram their rooms with maudlin memories.

Charon rules golden-throned
his inky cloak
a shroud for those who possess justice
a mournful mantle for dreamers
who uproot their lives
scattering them among anemones
and nostalgia.
But we have no god to worship
not even an obol
to clench between our teeth
and death no longer watches us
with such cupidity.

"Murder..." and the echo "by murder is resolved".

So that the unburied be let loose on the cities
dancing the human-shaped dance
symbol of time resurrected.
So that they may shed in the wind
each minute parcel of fear
every rusty residue
essence of yesterday's hope
that we once knew freshly-born

like a utopia bleeding
and weakly smouldering
a sorrowful sunray
on a clod of asbestos.

The steps of time
footprints of the humanoid Gorgona
bas-reliefs on the sand.
I sprinkled them with blood
the day before yesterday
red, purple, saffron
blood is always needed
if we want the cocoons to break open
so that butterflies may wrestle
with the light.

I burn the city and die
along with the enemy.

Round and round the winters go
whirlwinds of other lives and longings
ceaselessly generating
the demon of our thought
our renegade dreams
and the snakelike souls of our offspring.

Spinning-top of time
aimless outcome of laurel-crowned contests
when victors were infected
by their peers’ bloodthirsty ways
and the white goddesses of our visions
Althaia, Physkoa, Ariagne,
sold their bodies for a trifle
to be remembered by History.

just like this faltering account
entangled in what it seeks to hide
of a dim memory of guilt
the false superstitions of fear
and the sun-drenched death of hope.

God has forsaken dreams
take heart you seers of human salvation
there is hope for us still in despair.