By George Kalogeris
Four-square solid oak
And bolted fast to the floor,
That blunt stump at the back
Of our family grocery store.
Before I knew what meter
Was I heard the beat
Of my fatherís flashing cleaver
Articulating the meat.
In his spattered apron those lectures
Delivered in butchered English
Instructing us kids to be doctors
Had a surgeonís gravitas.
But when the Junta took over
And his brothers were shouting in Greek,
He stood as if at an altar
Where only the blood can speak.
The way the edge of each blade
Was honed on the leather strop
You'd think the tools of his trade
Had kept his keen mind sharp.
For what? For hours, bent
On landing clean blows. A lifetime
Spent on an echo that sent
Small tremors back up his arm.
But also just daily attempts
To make the best of the obstinate
Block he was up against,
And giving as good as he got.
As if that could ever assuage
Whatever deep frustration
Or even smoldering rage
Befit such rank and station.
When I was told how hard
They pounded his chest as he rode
In the ambulance, what I heard
Was the thump-thump-thump of the wood.
That note he struck in my verse
Like a sounding board. His heart
Attack at sixty. The cleaverís
Driven, incisive, art.
Donít mince your words said the blade,
Inscribe what cuts to the bone.
Iíll steady your hand said the shade,
Until you get the job done.
Copyright © 2020 by George Kalogeris.