Monday, November 18, 2013

Poem about the murder of JFK--and many other losses

Grace and Darkness in Matala, Crete--April 6, 1968

In this little Cretan village, Pitsidia,
Just kilometers north of Matala,

Anastasios invites me into his home,
Hands me his precious bouzouki.

Photos of Pope John XXIII, an Italian, 
and John F. Kennedy, Irish-American,
Festoon this Greek's whitewashed walls.

Two days before, Martin Luther King Jr. murdered
In Memphis. Two months from now Bobby Kennedy

Will be murdered in Los Angeles. Anastasios
Introduces us to his beautiful daughters, Kharis (Grace),

Maria, Magdalena. Shows me a photo of his cousin Nick
In New York City. I weep over his kindness,

His sweet bouzouki, his beautiful girls,
The passing of John XXIII, the murder of Jack Kennedy.

Robert M. Coughlin/November 22, 2013


1. This poem recounts, with great fidelity, an encounter my roommate Brian Wilson and I had just outside Matala, Crete in early April of 1968.

2. A “bouzouki” is a Greek musical instrument similar to a mandolin.

3. The Greek name “Anastasios” means “resurrection.”

4. The Greek name “Kharis” means “grace” or “undeserved kindness.”

5. Thanks to Frank Prpic for help with the above photo.

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