Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Three poems by Dina Kafiris


Dear old man,

why do you sit alone
reflecting on a war fought long ago

on the young girl
who spent with you those last few days
leaving you with the promise of a kiss
on your return.

Did you not find solace
in the woman who later bore your children
as you scratch your head in grief…

With a sigh,
you place your newspaper on that park bench
to meet the gaze of passing lovers in an embrace.

Sitting opposite you,
I watch that tear slip away.
Here in this night full of stories,
you whisper her name,


Three Masks of Solitude

Mortem – a contemplative visitor,
knocks randomly at doors.

This dormant city, unsettled by its own silence,
betrays its most vulnerable.

Nevertheless, spring renews its promise,
as it watches Pascha come, and go.

Even then, whilst new life enters,
the wise are unloaded into early graves.

Hampstead, London, 21/04/20

Interrogating the Gunman

At a bus stop in Hampstead,
she turned her attention to the commuter beside her,
top to bottom in brown tweed,
sitting calmly in 5-degree weather.
He passed the minutes
watching bibliophiles walk in and out of Waterstones,
whilst readjusting a ground-grazing overcoat;
even after several failed attempts
he refused to abandon the task.
A moment’s daydream triggered her memory of
Abbott’s 1928 portrait of James Joyce;
like Joyce, he wore his fedora hat at an obvious slant,
except, his walking stick was positioned across his knees.
He seemed a man of military bearing,
pale and drawn,
exhibiting signs of post-war fatigue.
It’s coming in 19 minutes, the 46, he said,
as he struggled to tame an unruly moustache with his forefinger.
In 8, she replied, it’s changed;
the red letters flickered on the announcement board
adding lurid colour to drab light.
Can you speak another language? he asked.
Greek, she answered.
I know a few words from a Greek-Cypriot friend, he said:
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη, καλημέρα, καλησπέρα, πούστης;
not a good word the last, he added,
(the left side of his mouth held a half-smile).
But used all too often, she assured him.
(She found it odd that his command of Modern Greek
included the phrase Χριστὸς ἀνέστη, ‘Christ is risen’,
a greeting traditionally exchanged during Easter.)
What other languages do you speak? she asked.
German, French, Latin, Ancient Greek, he replied.
It’s here, she said,
relieved to see the bus turning into the High Street.
He got up with a groan, towering over her,
every small step met with a moan.
The bus kneeled for him to enter,
his every stagger more painful than the next.
In front, French students
continued their tête-à-tête undisturbed;
she offered her seat instead, but he declined,
he preferred to shuffle towards the seats nearest the rear door.
Three stops, he said,
miscalculating the distance to where he was to get off.
She stayed close in case he required assistance:
an indication of good breeding, many would agree.
Teşekkür ederim, he responded,
as he hobbled unsteadily off the bus at Kentish Town
with a moan, groan and stagger.
He had left her speechless with the language
he chose to express his gratitude,
having struck her with his callous wit… in the foot.
Clearly, old age had made him bolder, and thus
permitted him to live out his spite with no major regret.