Henry Denander’s collection of poems about Hydra, Greece is titled The Loulaki Bar and they do a fine job of making me want to vacation there. Published by Miskwabik Press Calumet Michigan USA, this book is also filled with beautiful illustrations by Mr. Denander himself showcasing the people, animals, and buildings of this little island. Below I am happy to share a small sample to entice you to visit this little island as well:
I wanted to pay Barba Yannis for his work
taking out the old lemon tree in our garden
and planting a new mandarin tree.
He took some money to pay for Nikos’ digging
and for the tree but he didn’t want anything for himself.
Yannis is 80 years old and one of the island’s
few experts on trees, he helps us every year.
But I will buy you a beer next time at
Taverna Kristina, I said.
He shook his head. No beer.
Only Cipporo, he said.
When he passed the taverna later that week
we offered him a glass of that clear white spirit.
It was stronger than Ouzo and too foul for me to drink.
Yannis told us how it made his leg better,
how it helped get rid of his kidney stones.
In the winter he had it with honey and never caught a cold.
Barba Yannis seems like a young boy, his eyes are
full of energy and mischief and he moves around like
he was 50 years younger.
He climbs our trees like a squirrel
and he has no trouble jumping up
on the roof from the ladder.
I may have to give the Cipporo
This poem is a great little story about a local man and I love that it’s a spry older gentleman who can take on stouter activities and drink than the poet is able to take on himself. Yannis reminds me of the people who turn 100 and are asked how they lived so long and the answer always seems to surprising “bacon,” or “raw eggs,” or “100 sit-ups every morning.” For Yannis, it is Cipporo.
We had a late lunch at Lulus’. They have
a really good new cook now and all
the local people have returned to the taverna.
But now, this rainy Thursday in early
November, we are the only guests and
the owner interrupts his game of Tavli
to serve us lunch.
Suddenly there is lightning and loud
thunder and the drizzling turns
to very heavy rain.
We know where there is a lot of rain,
the narrow streets leading down to the
harbor can turn into small channels,
flooded with water.
Five minutes later the water comes
gushing down the stone paved street
and the owner rushes out
to save his tables and chairs.
The water takes one of the tables and it swivels
down the street in the high stream of water;
fifty meters down we see an arm
coming out of the doorway of Spiros’ tavern
and he grabs the table before it makes it
down to the harbor and the sea.
Ten minutes later a small metal café table
takes off in the strong stream and the same arm
grabs it further down the street.
It looks like Spiros has done this before,
but of course,
he is used to waiting on tables.
This is another vivid story by Mr. Denander of local life. It’s funny and charming, just as I imagine the town of Hydra to be. I am ready to applaud Spiros for saving the day more than once for the tavern owner and I thoroughly enjoy such poems as these.
People funding their children’s marriage, college,
university – living almost poorly themselves,
working five more years after retirement to bring
their children through college. Not allowing themselves
to do the things they always wanted to do…
There is something wrong here.
And their children will do the same,
live poorly, work all their life (or longer),
give money to their kids. Never retiring.
Our electrician here in Greece, Mr. Lameras,
says he has to work so hard because
his two daughters got married last year and
now one of them is at the university and
the other just had a baby.
Isn’t this a bit the same system as at McDonald’s,
when people are reserving seats before
standing in line for the food
and all the people waiting to sit down and eat
can’t find a free table because all is reserved.
I may be wrong but isn’t there
a conclusion to make out of this?
Maybe I will never eat at McDonald’s again.
This poem hits home for me because I already have made mental notes similar to the poets about older people working longer to help their adult children who in turn help their own children in an endless cycle of trying to help others without helping themselves first and all end up living poorly. What’s interesting is the comparison to standing in line at McDonald’s. Mr. Denander takes two groups of behaviors and finds them strikingly similar which I hadn’t thought of before. It’s an interesting poem and an even more interesting commentary on current social norms, don’t you think?
If you enjoyed these poems as I did, you may order a copy of The Loulaki Bar by Henry Denander for yourself for $18.00 (postage included no matter where you are in the world) at:
Thanks always for reading, please drop in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…