Constantine Pantazonis


our necks were not enough, they
sought to cut the throat of time itself
to sever the spirit from the body
and the children from their youth,
in a winter that had no ending
and a day that became an old man
who, sustained by his own momentum,
descends into his grave, as if
he had lived there all his life

and the waves crashed, fueled
by storms beyond the horizon
in the ocean of another god, deaf
to our prayers and lamentations
his language not our own, and though
we are all men, we were not his men,
and thus the dirge continues
the musicians may change, but…
as the wise klephti understood

i saw officers dine at the cafe
i saw hunger replace a girl’s eyes
desperation consumed her fear
as if it were a delicate morsel
and he took her skeletal wrist
and broke it like a pencil between his fingers
the soldiers were quite impressed
as if a grand feat of prestidigitation
instead of the darkest blasphemy

the hero doesn’t wear a uniform
nor does he bristle with arms
he lives within his inadequacy
as he struggles for air to breathe
and though he is rooted out like vermin,
it is the vermin who are our teachers
and to their interests he remains true,
to live and propagate as they will
while avoiding the hunter’s snare

by our hands and upon our shoulders
the great stones were raised,
the white marble that speaks through time
now adorns the halls of the teuton
they have absconded with our sister
and replaced her with an iron pole,
still they complain of the burden
that is their destiny to endure,
an atlas unto themselves

we took to the northern mountains
it was there that we made our stand
pursued by the products of their industry
this hell of mechanical design
the village they took as hostage
murdered as if putting on a hat,
we remember those who have fallen
though we have never found the grave
they are buried within our hearts

when living is a criminal activity
and famine sleeps in your bed
the day, another shade of darkness
the night, a sunless sky
survival gives birth to the epic
to the lyrics sung in the tavern
and the hasty scrawl of the poet
who wonders if he will be able,
who wonders if the shoes will fit

 © Constantine Pantazonis

Constantine Pantazonis, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati, is a poet and satirist whose work focuses on the human experience—the interplay between memory, dream, and fantasy that constitutes our sense of reality. With work that is diverse in scope and that utilizes a variety of stylistic approaches, Constantine feels that he takes an eclectic approach to poetry. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.

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8 thoughts on “Constantine Pantazonis”

  1. i think this poet attempts something and i admire that

  2. david eberhardt said:

    Dino has died- but- in a poem such as this- his voice lives on- a magnificent poem! He was an American poet w juice.

    “The excellent is not only difficult, but rare”- Spinoza

  3. Jude Garrett said:

    Having been to Greece and a loose student of the history, art and culture, this poem is a classic representing the struggle of the Greek way of life. Dino somehow always built a bridge connecting history and the struggle of the everyday man. This poem may be his most beautiful piece ever.

  4. david eberhardt said:

    We will definitely miss Dino-his poetry was the genuine article, NOT store bot. His father a poet, he was a rare combo- beat yet classical.

    I spoke with him abt hs spirit in the Greek genre of music called rembetika- and if you google rembetika Thomas Place you tube, to me, you get the spirit of rembetika- outlaws, identifying with the resistance in their hash dens.

    Dino brought a rare rawness, energy and honesty to American poetry- which, given its current febrile, academic nature, is sort of taboo and unpublishable. His poetry is edgy- passionate.

  5. david eberhardt said:

    This poem with its 9 line stanza is one of Dino’s purest classicals- al most as if he was Sophocles or (I’m trying to think of that 20th century great one and it’s not dawining on me) (not Sepheris- the gay guy) anyhow-
    Din o was often irreverent and modern- but not in this poem.

  6. to say “the gay guy” seems incredibly inappropriate- what i am trying to mention is Cavafy- how Dino is as great as that-
    but no one will ever no.

  7. The memorial held by Dino’ sister- Nina- on 10/25 was magnificent. I wish it had been taped.

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