Saturday lights, the city’s luminous eyes. Car engines, bike engines, the underground, they are all saints trembling in ecstasy. Athens sprawls and spreads to the four points of the horizon. All destinations unfold before my feet, but tonight there is only one. Parked across Academias Street, my little family is waiting for me.

The Journey Begins loud and clear in the car, while Stavros is wedging here and there into the traffic. Eleutheria, serene and esoteric as usual, is leaning against the car window, looking out as if saying goodbye. Elias and Alexis are sharing a joke, and then we are all laughing together. As The Journey changes to Take Hold, I refresh my cherry lipstick in the sun visor mirror. A glow in the hollow of my throat: hanging by a fine silver chain, the pendant I never take off these days. Every time I see it I remember fingers slim, fingers tracing this skin, fingers clasping this chain around my neck. Lips to bring the sky dome crashing down.

I lift my shoulders in a little act of indifference and reach towards my pocket. I’m wearing this special pair of pants with a hundred secret pockets and in one of them I’ve got magic wrapped in a tiny package.

The club: a country where illusions flourish. That’s why the long queue outside. There is smoking, and laughing, and talking, and calling out to a friend who just got off a taxi. There is foot stomping, cell phone checking, couple kissing. Strangers perfect smiling at strangers complete. Our lives, parallel lines, tonight intersect in this point of time that stretches into forever. This is our shared plane, our daisy chain. Mundane is for tomorrow.

Magic in our bellies, BPM pounding. My friends right here, radiating, dilating, saying something to me I can’t hear – never mind. Mint breath for everyone, courtesy of Stavros; a sip of water Alexis has brought; give a cigarette to Eleutheria and a hug to Elias. With eyes closed I wait for the lump in my throat, the sweating palms, some instants of anxiousness to come and pass; a sea wave breaking onto rocks, shattering into drops that turn into stars, fireworks flashing over dark plains.

The gates are unguarded, like new chamomile.

I’ll dance words wild, words in shards and words with cracks, crystalline whispers and clouded breaths. I’ll dance emigrating birds, the smell of poplar leaves after the rain, tattered repartees, walking on night streets. I’ll dance palindromes perfect like renewal, nymph float, movement sail. Exaltation is a full yellow woman bouncing towards me, then disappearing in the crowd. Slipping into a mixed language, I’ll dance a porcupine with a swordfish bill, a hairbrush floating over fields of wheat.

I’ll dance like a warrior, my feet pounding against the floor, my spear blazing in my hand if I had one. I’ll dance like a priestess, my arms raised above my head, my hips drawing figures eight. I’ll dance like a forest taking over railways, sunspots on a field of flowers, a maenad making a tree look threatening.

I’ll dance until my demons stop scratching and biting, and the city will be moaning under my stomping feet until the morning comes.

And you will not be here to see me.



City Maenad goes with Take my Heart Into Deep Water



The music in the car is:

Nicole Moudaber & Victor Calderone – The Journey Begins

Nicole Moudaber & Adam Beyer – Take Hold



Β© Basilike Pappa, 2018











76 thoughts on “City Maenad

  1. I can’t even express what it is about your writing that entices me deep … it’s so vivid, so original. I believe this pours out of you rather than is a painstaking process. It flows and I float, buoyant on concentrated salted art. Incredible. Pardon me while I read again!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I loved it! I wonder whether it would be possible to receive email notification when you’ve published a new post? I only see your posts in the WordPress feed (followed sites) at present. I might overlook it and miss out. I receive email notifications from some followed sites, while others only appear in the WordPress feed. No idea how it actually functions.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent! I like how the modern Athens club scene parallels the Bacchic rituals of ancient Greece. I especially like how the piece ends with this surreal rhapsody about dancing, illustrating the ecstasy and self-dissolution of the speaker.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots of great lines in this, & you really capture the feeling of a night out, a club, a big city, etc., in a way that’s not easy at all. This may be my favorite piece of yours so far.


  4. Love how you ended the night as I imagine with dancing,the cleansing of the Soul,with your voice I heard each word again as I imagine,I feel a little better for reading, Sheldon as Usual


  5. Love the vivid imagery. Tried reblogging it but it’s putting it on the original version of my blog site and not the upgraded site. Doesn’t even show me the option for my main site in the drop-down menu.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I was just on with their tech support and I can’t reblog to my primary site because I have what is considered a custom site. I upgraded to a business account because I wanted to mess around with plug-ins and SEO — but apparently, that won’t let me Reblog to my “custom” site. So annoying. It also got rid of my Follow button so people can only sign up by putting in their email address. It’s so dumb. I might downgrade my account when it’s time to renew. So, I can put a link on my site to yours, but that is nowhere as effective as having them read your words. Maybe I could cut and paste and then put a link in? Again, this is so annoying — upgrade to get new features but lose some basic, very useful functionality.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree, this is all dumb and annoying! Technology is supposed to make life easier, right?

        If you want to go into the trouble of copying – pasting, it’s fine with me. If you are too tired for any of this, please don’t feel obliged.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. i really like the feel of detailed traveling poems

    “I’ll dance emigrating birds, the smell of poplar leaves after the rain, tattered repartees, walking on night streets” -delicious line

    fantastic verse, you left us free falling from outer space.

    Liked by 1 person

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