Sophia Sestina

1 October 2015

the Athena school, despite clearly sounding Greek
is a scientology seminary for kids in Newtown
near the Carlisle Castle, just off King
street, nestled in between antiques and pretentious
home wares boutiques; I wonder do they teach translation
or anything about the venerated Sophia

goddess of gnostics and new-agers Sophia,
pure virgin spirit wedded to divine king
nametag for wisdom in the ancient Greek
if leaning on the classics is pretentious,
Sofia also directed Lost in Translation
dislocation is a readymade trope in Newtown

I once quivered beneath the dome of Hagia Sophia
her gambrels were both humble and pretentious
like the terraces toward the south end of Newtown;
there’s a kebab joint that screens Turkish MTV on King
street called Istanbul, that’s Constantinople in Greek
some things aren’t made for translation

gentrification is blooming in Newtown
witness the unfaithful translation
of warehouses into Alpha & Beta, pretentious
apartments hoping to scrape gravitas from the Greek;
abstract nouns abound in the block names of Sofia
where I rote learnt the deeds of a Bulgarian king

Plato was holding out for his own philosopher king
who loved wisdom and hated being pretentious
Rudolf Steiner too was a big fan of Sophia
my friend went to his schools and needed a translation
when he left – the whole world was speaking Greek
so he dropped out and slinked to bohemian Newtown

let’s fly now to snow-capped Sofia
with our meagre earnings we can live like kings
I’ll help you with the Cyrillic translation
and you can be my crutch for the Greek
our fucking will be bat-crazy and pretentious
unbound by the straitjacket of Newtown

I’m working on a new translation for Sophia
one the Greeks will probably deem pretentious
Newtown thinks it’s full of philosopher kings

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