Two Poems by George Fragopoulos: Tourism Theory and Theophilus Luatima at the End of the World

When I’m not wearing my NDQ‘s editor hat (it’s not a real hat), I’m a field archaeologist who works in Greece and Cyprus. In fact, right now, I’m writing from an apartment on Cyprus preparing for a day studying Roman and Late Roman pottery. George Fragopoulos’s two poems spoke to me in a personal way as they evoked the experience and deep history of the Mediterranean world infused by a contemporary sense of urgency.

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Tourism Theory

That summer the ghosts tasted like figs
and seeds of joyous light danced in our mouths
as we floated like narcotized moths toward
the deadly circuitry of sainthood, remembering
our ascents and descents into the hearts of
volcanoes, centers of the Earth that looked
nothing like the Earth, all these experiences
made real by a time outside of time’s
constraints, a catastrophe of experience
some call tourism, brought into
existence by the flow of global
capital, while the ivy humbled our skin
into raspberry patches, the oil of
living things asked us, begged us, to
reckon the vegetative, the aching green
that will one day bury us all, those gardens of
vengeance directly beneath the surface
of our skin, flowers of ever-encroaching
apocalypse, pollen of rot hollowing the lungs.

Theophilus Luatima at the End of the World

a mere two seconds from now
cosmic calendar time
when all the Anthropocene’s reliquaries
lie silent on ocean floors
or are a sliver of sediment
in the geological record
begin long aft er nature
has kicked us from the womb
and chewed on our marrow
shades of Goya’s Saturn
begin when even our nonexistent
gods have turned against us
that is when I’ll return
something more than shadow
but less than light
Theophilus Luatima
one of Pessoa’s lesser- known heteronyms
to bear witness to nothing
to be nothing nothing at all
but a visage scudding on the crest of waves
a mote in some leviathan’s eye
trying to see what can only be seen
with an other’s eyes

George Fragopoulos’s poetry, translations, and essays have appeared in the journals The Critical Flame, PMLA, Salamander, and Words Without Borders. He lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor of English at Queensborough Community College and Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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