Hilary Sideris: Greek Poems

Apocalypse Lake

Nikos drives me in his taxi to the kafeneio
where I sip elliniko kafe, try not to listen
to the Doors: “This is the end, beautiful friend.”
I took a walk, I tell him, but didn’t find the lake
formed when the local mine shut down, a crater
filled with rainwater. Monks built a monastery there,
awed by its alpine charm. Nobody swims.

“Yes, apocalypse is a good thing in Greek,” he laughs.
“It means uncovering.” Ah, revelation! I’ll look again
for that aquamarine expanse I read about online,
the gaping scars in the worked face. For now
I tongue the hole left in my mouth by a surgeon
whose sutures will disperse, a place I’m not
allowed to touch with pick or brush.



The Patron Saint of Smokers

I ask the boy in the blue Skoda
the way to Apocalypse Lake.

I understand four words he says,
pointing the way with his cigarette—

road, go, right, well. Christopher,
patron saint of drivers, swings

from his rearview mirror. Florian’s
for firefighters. Who looks out for smokers?

Den milao poly kala, I don’t speak
very well, I say. He smiles at how vastly

I understate and flicks his ash.
In this village every house has a well

except the one I’m staying in,
quaint, with state-of-the-art

plumbing, water pressure. I Googled
Apocalypse Evia, read Apocalyptic

Wildfires, State of Emergency Declared,
Mitsotakis Speaks, news two years old.

A cigarette dropped in Aleppo pine
burns well. Liepon, a filler word like so,

means well, but not in the sense
of health. Matches go on getting struck,

seatbelts mandated by the State
fastened and cut.



Radio Nostalgia

In the old songs I understand
some plural nouns—eyes,
lips, & hands, the I-love-yous
& I-don’t-knows. Tomorrow
is Sunday, Kyriaki. I met a farmer
on my walk. He gave me tangy feta,
said his name was Adonis.

The village smells like burning pine.
The yoghurt tastes like village.
My country is a block of ice
sweetened by corn syrup. Tomorrow
the mini market’s kliesto.
I cork my Mythos bottle
with a mauve Evia olive.


— by Hilary Sideris

Copyright ©2023, by Hilary Sideris. All Rights Reserved.

Hilary Sideris is the author of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), Animals in English (Dos Madres Press 2020), and Liberty Laundry (Dos Madres Press 2022.) She lives in Brooklyn. She spent most of May at La Casa Grande, a writers’ retreat in Evia, Greece.


Hilary Sideris: Greek Poems
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