Three Poems

by Holly Karapetkova

Tell the Mother

Not to wait, not to wait for them.
The Dumikos ridge descended upon them
dragging the sun behind it, dragging the moon,
the shattered rocks, uprooted pines
and one ripe apple tree bent with fruit;
beneath its branches the brothers embraced
and the younger one turned to the older
saying, hold on, brother, don’t let go,
the fruit falling like bullets, red pulp.

Song of the Three Swallows

The leaves are no longer talking.
The pines are fighting with swords,
the oaks are fighting with fists.
The black birds are coming, black as ravens,
they will smother the sun from our sight.
Some say it is a heard of sheep,
some say it is goats for the slaughter,
but it is not sheep, nor goats.
It is the standing army coming, steady
as the black hand of the sea.

How Grivas of the Blue Horse Gave Way

Once when the king came looking
I called him a bastard, spat
in the dirt, strapped my weapons on
and rode my blue horse.
My hair was as black as a curse.

But the autumn came
the leaves turned bitter
and the soil laid out its poison.

Now my hair is gray.
The king will find me at home
confessing my sins to the priest:
thirty years a rebel, twenty a thief.
All I ask is a coffin tall enough to stand
wide enough to load my gun
and on the right side leave a window
so that the swallows will come
driving the spring
driving my blue horse home.