The tragic events taking place throughout the world can be summed up in the dramatically expressed words of a Ukrainian refugee; panic, blood, crying, sighing, and made more dramatic and dangerous by an absence of organizations in charge of peace, while serious and responsible people are shocked by the indifference, puzzled by the misappropriation of power and pained with the paradoxical presence of many happy players.

Yannis Coutsoheros was a politician-poet, sensitive and responsive to the world’s children and was thrilled when I called him my child. He lost vision in one eye when he intervened as police beat students during the Greek dictatorship. He represented Greece in both the Council of Europe and in UNESCO. He stood for milk for children and stood against nuclear weapons. Many of his ideas were expressed in poetry. In 1982, he gave me several poems to translate, which surfaced recently. Reading them 40 years on, I decided to present them to my readers.

White hand, black hand

Pale white the hand of one, the other withered black
Bile bitter ravaged skin and hunger wasted limbs
A child, Uganda’s best
Spent skeletal bloodless dry
Wrapped in an ancient calloused sack
Formless fingers lifeless cold
Waiting for the loan that never came
Long overdue from the white hand’s bank
too late held gently in a white man’s palm
A mournful shocking clasp of hands.
Some say in solidarity
One milky white well-nourished with sweet life
The other stiff shriveled gnarled unmoved by life
A pulseless fossil of our days
O spendthrift nations
Missile makers, frivolous with food
Players of war games, all empathy removed
I am ashamed of man’s inhumanity to man
A lack of heart, our un-altruistic ways

Lofty the heights of Pindar

Bred of her springs and joyous roots
Nurtured by the same sweet soil
Children of a bounteous earth
Odes of Pindar once we sang melodious
Upon the self, same earth that now laments
With slow sad verse
For all the sick and suffering offspring of slow death
The starving and unfed, infected, cold.
Once in the Council of Europe as children died
I pleaded for all sweet innocents of our world
My words well heard, taken down, a scripted text
Yet still the children die, forlorn, unfed and tossed aside.
With what words shall I now cry out?
Only one condemns our race, infanticide!
Disgrace! Our century without a heart!

Terrifying toys

Children of a ravaged wasting earth
Playrooms stockpiled with weapons
Vast armories to frighten and subdue
Destruction from sea to land and sea to air
Dreadful and terrifying games
That never should be played but children learn
While indifference prevails to dominate our world
Silent we must not be!
Warmongers are content their coffers full
As tears well-up and overflow
I must cry out again.
Against multinational groups and daughter corporations
Against dark profiteers from death and hate
Citizens of this globe I have cried out
Pleaded for a united mother earth
For all our children
I shall not cease to lift my voice
In shame and condemnation
For our century of terror
For the imbalance in the balance of power
I asked who is not ashamed
Just a few with raised up hands
Fewer still were white.