{Denise gracefully hosts Six Sentence Stories, where writers unleash their magic under one simple rule: in no more or no less than 6 sentences.
This week’s prompt word is : STRUCTURE }

WARNING : this text and following video/song contains historic accounts of a massacre – if you are offended by their graphic nature , please exit via the door to the left.


“…δι ελέου και φόβου περαίνουσα την των τοιούτων παθημάτων κάθαρσιν.”*

100 years later, I find myself unable to imagine any catharsis for the massacre on August/September 1922 at Smyrna, known as the Smyrna Catastrophe.

Even more disheartening is the observation of the repeated historical cycle of events that leads to similar tragedies; the (in)forming structure by the global chess board powers, creating the bones of such skeletons.

Aristotle gave his definition of the dramatic act of Tragedy (Tραγωδία) *“…through pity and fear effecting the proper catharsis of these emotions”; 2,200 years later another Aristotle survived the massacre at Smyrna to become later in his life the wealthiest man in the world: Aristotle Onassis.

An American singer & artist, Diamanda Galas, born & raised at San Diego, with ancestors from Smyrna, Pontus & Chios (Quiz: what do these three places have in common? Answer at the end of the post)** creates in 2003 “The orders from the dead” based on testimonies from the Smyrna catastrophe.

100 years later, I find myself lighting a candle in the memory of a 5 years old girl hiding under the dress of her mother, escaping the Smyrna massacre, fleeing towards the harbor, only to find the crews of foreign ships beating them or chopping their hands off to prevent them from boarding their vessels; they finally made it aboard a Japanese(!) merchant ship that emptied into the sea its precious cargo of silk to make room for refugees and carried them to the Hellenic port of Piraeus.

That girl’s mother was named Eftichia (Ευτυχία: happiness)…

…the little girl was Anna...she was my grandmother…

…and her daughter Eftichia is my mother.


** Quiz answer: Smyrna, Pontus and Chios were massacred by Turks
Pontus Genocide : 353,000 dead

Chios massacre, May 1822 : close to 50,000 dead, 45,000 as slaves.
(The orders from the Sultan were: kill every infant from 0-3 years old, every boy over 12 years old, every woman over 40 years old. Capture every female between the age of 3-40 and male from 3-12).
According to the Courier Francais of July 7th 1822, thousands of enslaved kids from Chios were paraded at Smyrna, where fanatic Muslims were buying each for 30 grossia and butchered them, thus gaining a place at their heaven…

Smyrna massacre, September 1922 : close to 100,000 dead.


This is a video based on Diamanda Galas song,”Orders from the dead” with archive footage.

Here are the lyrics:

“The world is going up in flames
The world is going up in flames
The world is going up in flames
But these flames are not new to our dead
Our dead did cry their final prayer in those flames
Our dead did sing their last lullaby in those flames
Our dead prayed to our infidelity God in those flames
Our dead whispered a last goodbye to their mother in those flames
Της είπα μάνα, μην σκιάζεσαι [I told her Mother, fear not]
Θα γυρίσουμε [We will return]
Έχε γεια, μάνα! [Farewell, mother]
The world is going up in flames
Our world clawed their children close in
The world is going up in flames
Τα παιδιά μου καλέ! [My children!]
Μην είδατε τα παιδιά μου; Για όνομα του Θεού! [Have you seen my children? For God’s sake!]
Ωχ, μου τα πήρανε, και τι να θέλω τη ζωή; Τα παιδιά μου! [ Ahh, they have taken them, why would I want to live now? My children!]
Τα παιδιά μου! [ My children!]
Βαζει μια τρεχάλα για την θάλασσα, πέφτει και πνίγεται [Runs to the sea, dives and drowns]
Our dead watched their daughters butchered
Raped and beaten in the still-burning of those flames
Our dead watched an ax remove their mother’s skull
And crown a wooden spit
In the continuous burning of those flames
Our dead watched while Chrysotomos eyes and tongue were pulled out
Teeth and fingers broken, one by one
In the laughing and the cheering of those flames
(Flames, flames, flames, flames, flames)
Αρπάξανε από την τετράδα μας [They grabbed one of us four]
του σκίσανε την κοιλιά με μια μαχαιριά [they ripped his gut with a knife]
τον βάλανε και βάδισε, κρατώντας τ’άντερά του στα χέρια [ they made him walk holding his intestines with his hands]
Our dead watched their sisters drenched with gasoline
And scream with melting skin
“The world is going up in flames”
The world which is going up in flames
Για όνομα του Χριστού! [For Christ’s name!]
Μην μας αφήσετε! [Don’t leave us!]
Έχουμε μωρά μαζί μας, έχουμε γερόντους, κορίτσια [We have babies, old parents, girls]
Είστε υπεύθυνοι! [You are responsible!]
Νάυαρχε, νάυαρχε, Φωτιά! [Admiral, admiral! Fire!!]
Φωτιά! [Fire!]
Our dead were dragged in marches
Through the desert sun
For weeks until the sun burned out their lungs
And when the flames turned inside-out their mouths and ripped apart their lips
We heard their final prayer
“Lord God, have mercy, please, upon our souls!”
Μας προδώσανε! [ They betrayed us!]
Μας ξεπουλήσανε! [They sold us out!]
Π’ανάθεμά τους! [God damn them!]
Νάυαρχε, τι κάνεις; Νάυαρχε, σώστε μας! [Admiral, do something, save us!]
Φωτιά! [Fire!]
They saw the world is going up in flames
Buried, not yet dead inside the pits
Engraved: “Giaoure, Infideli:
Our God has chosen you to die”
Γονάτισε κάτω! [“Kneel down!”]
Και γονατίζει [and she kneels]
Ξεγυμνώσου! [“Undress!”]
Και ξεγυμνώνεται [ and she undresses]
Ανοιχτά τα σκέλια σου! [“Open your legs!”]
Και τα ανοίγει [and she opens them]
Χόρεψε! [“Dance!”]
Και χορεύει [ and she dances]
Φτύσε την τιμή σου και την πατρίδα σου! [“Spit on your honor and country!”]
Και φτύνει [and she does]
Απαρνήσου την πίστη σου! [“Give up your faith!”]
Και την απαρνιέται [and she does]
Και την απαρνιέται
And now the unblessed dead have ordered us to say:
This is my grave, my holy bed
You cannot take it
You cannot erase my name
You cannot erase our dead
You cannot erase the dead
Because we have been ordered now
To list their names, their numbers
To give their date of birth, their earthly city
Their father’s name, the sweetness of their mother’s eyes
But I have orders from the Dead that warn me:
“Do not forget me
My blood will fill the air you breathe forever”
“My deathbird is not dead
He carries all my teeth
My smile of unforgetfulness
My laugh
Βρυκόλακα! [ Vampire!]
I am the man unburied
Who cannot sleep in forty pieces!
I am the girl dismembered and unblessed
I am the open mouth that drags your flesh and that can never rest”.


Spira / Nick © October 2022


About Spira

” The eternal part of our being is conscious of the timeless essence of life & is aware that the past is nothing but a memento of the present and tomorrow a dream of the now. The very thing meditating & singing from within, remains always inside the boundaries of the primordial instant that scattered the stars into the cosmos.” Kh.Gibran

27 responses »

  1. Hi Nick. A powerful and personal telling. Chapeau for finding the words and a mood to convey such a true horror.

    “Even more disheartening is the observation of the repeated historical cycle of events that leads to similar tragedies; the (in)forming structure by the global chess board powers, creating the bones of such skeletons.”

    So true. 200 years. 2000 years. Human misery continues at the hands of the powerful, violent and corrupt. Yet, we continue to speak out, as we must, and light candles and draw attention to the way of love (and hope).

    The lyrics, cover song and video you chose to accompany this special post are so hard-hitting. Bravo to their creators.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ford.
      But really, I do not give myself any credit for just doing the minimum that needs to be done.

      I appreciate your vision of hope, mate.
      I am not sure though if I have much left after 10,000 years of being as brutal to each other.

      Thank you for diving into my story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The atrocities man inflicts upon one another is beyond comprehension. It causes one to ponder if there is a divine power. What is the value of the brutality that produces such tragedies?? The horror is unimaginable, yet we need only refer to archives for proof of it. Except for you, Nick. Your family history, your archives for this historical tragedy.
    May you find even just a small bit of peace on this, the day, you light the candle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Denise. That duality of the human species is indeed beyond comprehension. Free will, eh?

      Imagine the despair of all those people having behind them the fire and the turkish lynching and in front of them “Allies” ships doing nothing or preventing them from escaping…only American ships , a Japanese, an Italian and I think a Syrian ship helped.

      Thank you, Denise for your thoughts and wish.
      And I hope you will forgive me for using the Six Sentence Stories as the place to light that candle.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Only by the telling and retelling of such horrors can we hope that one day we will stop the cycle. Powerfully done, Nick. (Sorry to have seemed to ignore you for a couple of weeks. I spilt a cup of tea on my laptop and it shuddered to a halt!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • True Jenne, very true. I guess at the end of the day, a measure of hope needs to be present, no matter how small.
      Thank you for reinforcing that.

      ( Never felt that way, Jenne…never.
      I am sure you did not plan it as the creative writer you are…but at my screen the sentence ended ” cup of tea on my”…and by the second it took me to follow the rest of the sentence I was thinking Oh, no! Please don’t tell me you have a second degree burn!
      See…if you are a frikin good writer then Fates conspire in your favor!)


  4. much to work with here (Commentisically-speaking*), will exhibit non-characteristic restraint and limit myself to keying off fellow Proprietor Ford,

    “…finding the words and a mood to convey

    Surely the most succinct of explanations of the state necessary for (some of us) to take a story and place it in the world.

    will be back.
    Excellent wordage, yo

    *not a ‘real’ word/description

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We should never forget the atrocities that people are capable of, they should burn into our memories, and light a fire to say never again, but we should do our small part to alleviate suffering where we can. I had never heard of this tragedy and I thank you for bringing it to my attention, Spira.

    Liked by 1 person

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