the old man and the monastery 
(agios minas)

"Stupid fuckin' peoples...
stupid fuckin' cats..."

Dry docked and land locked
in the Marafi hill side,
old Mr. Minas tends his monsastery
of pigeon roosts
in monks beds and shrines.

Around the church orbits monastic decay,
the beds and roses of his care
crumbling away
around him
as the sun glints on his shell coated belt
and baseball cap.

Circling him, the instruments of his musical life
are lain out neatly on his bed,
his old monk's room itself
a sea of different hats
and hand made flutes.

The kittens he cares for
prance around the church,
chasing shadows and ghosts
reflecting on the last pieces of fresco
whose peelings scale the walls
between the painted-on stone blocks
and marbling.

Icon old and new he asks for a picture
of the three saintly men painted,
and takes mine by the tree that grows
from inside the courtyard out
toward the midday sun.

"My wife - kaput!"
he says
and days now spent in hope
some new "big mama" will pass by
and drive him forth and back to town.

Old Mr. Minas guards this ancient tomb
from 1427 on, and relishes the barricaded door
and its letterbox above 
through which would pour
boiling oil
waiting for some medival postman's knock.

There I was, lost looking for some mines
and finding
this old man's head appearing 
from the vacant building's window top
peering down
at me, in the midday sun.

His story one of many told,
of having worked the world,
from Macedonia to Canada
picking up along the way
this "stupid fuckin'" english
as he went,
to share it with me
as we share a beer.

"Stupid fuckin' caves easy to fuckin' find"
he says,
showing me a photo
of a ruin 
back down the dry river bed 
an even more dillapidated shrine
where once were mined
other legends of Parian marble gold.

1/7/02 (Marafi)