Poetry

Poetry by Apollo Papafrangou

Apollo Papafrangou

Apollo Papafrangou

Apollo Papafrangou’s poetry rips aways any protection of sensibilities to reveal the rawness of love, disappointments, rejection, and, the intense pain of heartbreaks.

“Poems are just distilled thoughts.”

Papafrangou explains,

“I’m drawn
to the form because there are certain ideas I may have that don’t lend themselves to the narrative form — concepts I want to express that wouldn’t necessarily be able to carry an entire story. The concise nature of poetry is a perfect outlet for these ideas.”

At the early age of 15, Papafrangou wrote “Concrete Candy”, a collection of short stories. He has gone on to write for HBO films, which optioned the movie rights to his story “The Fence.”

Papafrangou, living in the San Francisco Bay area, is in the midst of a contemporary literary writers who influence his work.

“There is a terrific lit scene in the Bay Area, and I’m influenced by many of the poets/spoken word artists, particularly Tim “Toaster” Hendersen, Joshua Merchant, and Mk Chavez, among others. Song lyrics always have a big influence on my poetry, as well. In fact, my greatest inspiration would have to come from Andre 3000. The way he puts words together is truly amazing. There’s also great vulnerability in his verses, and his work addresses the issues of every day life with a poignancy I really admire.”

Being Greek American is another obvious influencer. Papfrangou says,

“Greek mythology/and tradition also has a tremendous influence on my work. Greece is a land of poets — from Homer and Sappho to Cavafy and Seferis. As a writer you can’t help but be inspired. My Greek heritage always finds its way into my work, whether fiction or poetry. That cultural experience is so rich, and I think Greeks naturally want to share it with other cultures. Growing up, there was always this emphasis — particular from my father, who immigrated from Greece — on having that pride. It wore one me at times when I was a kid, but now I understand. The characters in my stories are often Greek, and I can’t help but write from that perspective as a poet. The food, the language, the customs — they all seep into the sentences and stanzas.”

Papafrangou shares three poems with 9 Muses News – Serenity, Gem Stones, and Deep Cuts.

Serenity

If you were granted the serenity
to accept the things you cannot change
what more would you ask for when you drop to your knees at night?

If you found peace within
would the knot in your belly lose tension at the moment most critical
like a noose unraveling from around the neck
of a man down to his last breath?

When you speak into the darkness
and hear the voice of an unseen speaker
do you let the syllables sink in
or turn a blind ear?

You might feel as though
your life is in pieces
But if you were at peace with
the puzzle as it is
Even though half its pieces are
immoveable due to their immense weight
Would the disarray make any difference
when it came right down to it?

Would you really be content
or would you ask for greater serenity
while working to change what you could?

Maybe you’d even yearn for the old tension
and ask for the serenity to accept that you
miss trying to push mountains
and walls of brick
into places
you feel better suit their mass.

I can accept the fact that I’ve lost loved ones over
the years
Can’t change that they’re gone
but I still push against the solidity of mortality
as if it’s a mere myth after all.

 

Gem Stones

We who shine bright as gem stones
when the finish used to be less than stellar
lackluster even
rarely recognize
the source of our newfound glow.

It takes pressure to make a diamond
You’re under so much pressure
self-inflicted
that there’s little time to breathe
much less savor the accomplishments.

You’ve been putting in work
this whole time, baby
Your past can’t tarnish you
even that crystal was a rock once.

Don’t be so hard on yourself is what I’m saying, I suppose
You’ve been shimmering longer than you realize
We can see it from afar.

Outside world tries to measure our value
invaluable
since you can’t put a price on
earth movers and minerals.

All realness
Don’t let the smooth edges fool you
plenty blemishes beneath the varnish
and the rough corners
brought us to this place
where we need to be.

 

Deep Cuts

It’s nothing to cut her off
like the song says
or so we like to tell ourselves
Us men all want to front
strong as Spartans
but there are plenty chinks in the armor

Chest plate
in the form of Ralph Lauren sweater
like that and some swagger
paired with a seducer’s smile
can protect our hearts

It’s nothing to cut her off
first cut is the deepest
but what’s another
when you’re already tallying
a plethora of scars?

Pink and purple
are feminine tones
so-called
but when a pimp dons such colors
they’re anything but

Green might be for the money
and gold for the honey
though purple is for the bruises
the damage that his heart sustained
and pink is for the woman who caused it
Now her face is pink-with-purple for the bruises it gained

It’s nothing to cut her off
Much harder to cut the acts of bravado
Much harder to cut off the stream of bullshit
we feed ourselves
in the name of being
a man

It’s nothing to cut her off
as if somehow we forgot
the doctors
cut us off
from our mothers
when the
umbilical cords were
sliced

I cupped her face in my palms
she winced
for an instant
as if in tracing her cheeks
my fingers had stumbled upon the places
where a prior man’s fists had landed
to leave deep cuts
and I’m left to cut away at all the mistrust.

It’s nothing to cut her off
but it’s something to put her on
to the fact
you’re vulnerable beneath that armor
and all you want to do his cherish
her
like a Spartan queen
when she’s so used to being strewn away

It’s nothing to cut her off before there are
feelings involved
its something to put her on to your feelings
and be mindful of her’s

It’s not about a pedestal
it’s about an even playing field
where you can stand as equals
and together mend those cuts
that you couldn’t reach alone.

When a poet writes, a secret ephemeral connection to the human spirit is ignited. Edges of mortality destroy any remaining illusions. Yet, the very myths and legends shared through poetry become the sustaining fog to quietly guide each to discover their path, overcome the guaranteed obstacles in life, and learn how to live, express, connect, love, and, ultimately, fulfill their destiny.

Papafrangou is currently seeking publication of his debut novel entitled “Wings of Wax.” Read more at www.ApolloPapafrangou.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter at .

By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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3 thoughts on “Poetry by Apollo Papafrangou

  1. I cupped her face in my palms
    she winced
    for an instant
    as if in tracing her cheeks
    my fingers had stumbled upon the places
    where a prior man’s fists had landed
    to leave deep cuts
    and I’m left to cut away at all the mistrust.

    Lovely! Just amazingly lovely! Apollo, you have the gift and the blessing of the sun god!
    Keri, as always, sensitive to and supportive of Greatness!

    Looking beyond the face of a woman
    it’s Earth I see
    on the face of which
    man has left deep cuts
    I know it’s up to me, ut to you, to all of us
    to heal and plant trees where the cuts are.

  2. So happy to have found your story, Apollo. I was a friend of your maternal grandparents and lost track when Ted died in 1976. I had adopted him as my surrogate father and his death was a horrible loss; my dad died in 1960. My husband Nick and I met Ted and Catherine in ’71 just before our first trip to Greece. Nick died in ’97; we had bought about a dozen of Ted’s paintings and two of your mother’s. I have four hanging in my bedroom.
    He was my greatest inspiration in my own painting history; I am now 87 and continue to paint.

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