Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kosrof Chantikian: To the Old Man in the Rhodes Cafe

I enter the small cafe in the early morning
rain falling lightly
huddled together a dozen Greek men

smoking their interminable
cigarettes drinking coffee and cognac
are talking loudly

old now from years of hard toil
I can see the wrinkles and holes in their faces
like cold sponges on the ocean floor

and yet these old men   I know their laughter
I know their laughter means
this is the beginning of another day

would you relive your life?
live it over to make sure your face had no holes or scars?
you say you would – if only you could have a face new

as smooth and soft as sand on the beach
but how would you do it?

in the early morning rain
these old men squeezed together between
five small round tables

sit with their legs crossed
and watch each other
smoke and talk and then laugh

how much is this laughter worth?  the old man next
to me orders a last coffee and cognac
he looks at me and waves asking me to join him

I cannot help feeling he has read my thoughts
I was thinking about his death
thinking that he would die soon

and how foolish some questions are
this old man is not going to relive his life
none of us will

in the end he had answered my question again
laughter was more than death
laughter was the beginning of each morning

of each night   was the sky and slow falling rain
I looked at the others and I saw countless cigarettes
and then laughter overwhelm the quiet sky

This poem appeared in the Marin Poetry Center's website with an audio recording. 

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