Archive for 04/07/2021

Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

Posted: 04/07/2021 by vequinox in Literature

SWAMPED, A NOVEL BY MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS

(Excerpt)

            Sunday passed by in the peaceful routine of the house and the boys. They went out for a couple of hours to give the cleaning ladies time to do their work. After Eteo got divorced, he had kept on the same cleaning ladies who took care of the house while he was married. During the week the four men could keep things tidy enough through their own efforts, but they didn’t know what real cleaning was all about. Now Alex went to a friend’s place, and Logan hooked up with his girlfriend Patricia, a sweet nineteen-year-old brunette he had met in a bar not long ago. Logan seemed very happy with the young woman, whom Eteo found pleasant and sociable. She was a Chinese-Canadian whose parents lived in Coquitlam.

Eteo took Jonathan and drove to a pool hall at Broadway and Ontario where Jonathan had discovered they had one table of European billiards, a game at which his uncle was a master.          

“Will I ever win against you, uncle?” Jonathan asked after Eteo had taken the third game in a row.

           Eteo laughed. “You will when I let you” he answered, and Jonathan laughed too. They sipped their lattes and played again and when they had finished, Eteo drove back to the house just as the cleaning ladies were putting their things away.

           For dinner, Eteo suggested a visit to Mythos, a Greek spot on Lonsdale where he knew Angelo, the owner, and the boys always enjoyed their meals. It was a fairly new place and Angelo, who in the past was a partner in another restaurant on Marine Drive had done an expert job decorating the interior. In the kitchen he had a cook whom Eteo also knew well, and whose special appetizer of mussels was what Eteo liked the most about the place.

           Angelo’s sister, who worked as the hostess, took them to their table. They were all hungry and fell like vultures on their appetizers of humus, calamari, and pitta bread as soon they were served. By the time the main courses arrived, they were almost full, but that only meant they had plenty to take home at the end of the evening.  

           Early next morning, with the clock on the night table reading 4:00, Eteo still tossed and turned in bed, unable to go to sleep, his mind racing through a myriad of thoughts like a crazy monkey on a big tamarind tree jumping from branch to branch as if in desperate search for something hidden there. The bedroom was a little too warm, and his breathing was as loud and irregular as his thoughts.

He often planned his next day while awake in his bed the night before, so this morning wasn’t any different from others. Fully awake now, Eteo let his eyes travel around the walls. The window was still very dark at this time in the morning. Light would come no earlier than seven, but he felt the need to talk to someone. Who would be there for him to call and talk right now? The sounds of the house were regular and steady. The ventilation system sang its monotonous tune as if it knew that nobody cared to listen. Only the odd creak from the trees outside Eteo’s window interrupted that low, steady hum.

           They were sounds that didn’t resemble the ones he remembered from the little house on the small hill in Crete during the nights when he covered his face to hide the gleam of the moon that penetrated the house and created all kinds of scary shapes and images on the clay floor and walls. He remembered how they scared him in his early years along with the creaking of the trees and the sounds of the wind sighing through the gaps around the frame of the single door and the lonely window, sounds that kept a toddler awake, especially on those nights when he and his brother Nicolas hid their faces under the blanket so as not to hear their father crying “Oh mother of mine, oh, mother of mine” while their own mother tried to console him and ease the pain of the wounds on his back, the marks of the whip the police had used to torture him, to make him tell them things he didn’t know, to make him give away someone else they wanted to arrest. On those nights little Eteocles covered his face and plugged his ears so as not to hear the cries of his father. Now on this sleepless morning grownup Eteo seemed to hear again his father’s cries, “Oh, mother of mine, oh, mother of mine,” and tears cascaded down his cheeks.

            He got up to go to the bathroom and hit his toe on the bed frame. The pain brought his mind back to the present, and he stifled the urge to throw a curse into the air, only rubbing one toe against the other to ease the pain. He took a couple of deep breaths and continued to the bathroom to relieve himself. Then he stretched his legs and walked back to the bed but did not want to lie down. His thoughts turned to the date with Susan yesterday. Michael’s restaurant was a spot he had often visited with his wife, the partner of some twenty years who had walked out because she said he didn’t love her enough. It made him wonder what other kind of naïve cliché a woman might resort to when she didn’t have the courage to see that it was her ego doing the talking, not enough love, or not enough something, or not much of something else.

What had happened to the good old days when women did everything expected of them and nothing more? Yes, Susan was a very nice woman, and she was willing. Why not? But what would his co-workers say? Eteo never liked anyone talking about his private life. He couldn’t mix work with pleasure although there were a lot of other guys who did exactly that, but Eteo wasn’t like the other guys, and that was that. Perhaps he should break up with Susan.

Yet he found himself liking the woman more and more, and although her daughter plus Eteo’s two sons and a nephew would be a bit of a crowd, the emotions he felt for Susan had to be given their time of day. He would carry on dating her and hope for the best.

YANNIS RITSOS II

ΑΓΡΥΠΝΙΑ//ΣΙΩΠΗΛΗ ΕΠΟΧΗ

ΑΛΛΑΓΗ (Απόσπασμα)

Η θάλασσα μένει πίσω απ’ τα κλεισμένα ματόκλαδα

ένα μισοΙιδωμένο πρόσωπο πίσω απ’ τις βέργες της βροχής.

Ο μεθυσμένος ναύτης σκάλιζε με το σουγιά του τ’ όνομα της

           καλής του

στην πόρτα της ταβέρνας, πέρα στο ξένο λιμάνι

την ώρα που το χάραμα έβγαζε απ’ την τσέπη του ένα μεγάλο

            σκουριασμένο κλειδί

και ξεκλείδωνε τις αποθήκες του σταριού και του κάρβουνου.

Είπαμε τότε κάτι απλό — δεν το θυμάμαι

μόνο τον ήχο της φωνής σου φύλαξα

έτσι που μένει η ζέστα απ’ τα δυο σώματα στα πρωϊνά σεντόνια.

Και ξέραμε πως τίποτα δεν ήταν χαμένο. Ξέραμε καλά.

Ύστερα βγήκαμε στο δρόμο. Ο δρόμος δεν είταν ξένος.

Το φως μετρούσε τη μοναξιά της περασμένςη νύχτας.

Το ρολόϊ του σταθμού ήταν σαν την τελευταία σελίδα ενός βιβλίου

και κάθε που μιλούσες έβγαινε απ’ το στόμα σου τ’ όνομα της

          πατρίδας

όπως βγάζεις απ’ την παλιά βαλίτσα του ταξιδιού μια χοντρή

          χωριάτικη φανέλλα.

VIGILANCE//SILENT SEASON

THE CHANGE (excerpt)

The sea remains behind the closed eyelids

a half seen face behind the withes of the rain.

The drunken sailor was engraving the name of his beloved

on the tavern door, far away at the foreign harbour

when at daybreak the dawn took out of its pocket

            a large rusted key

and unlocked the storage rooms of the wheat and coal.

Then we said something simple — I don’t remember it,

I only kept the echo of your voice

like the warmth of bodies that remains on the bedsheets

in the morning and we knew that nothing was lost.

            We knew it well.

Then we went out to the road; it was an unfamiliar road.

The light was counting the loneliness of last night.

The clock of the Station was like the last page of a book

and each time you spoke, the name of our motherland

             came out of your mouth

like you take out of the old suitcase the thick flannel-

             shirt of a farmer.

ΕΛΛΑΣ

Οινοχόη με απεικόνιση Ερωτα, παρόμοια με παράσταση από την αρχαία Επίδαμνο.

Eνας… Ερωτας των κλασικών χρόνων (5ος – 4ος π.Χ. αιώνας) ήρθε πάνω σε οινοχόη – πιθανόν από το Δυρράχιο στην Εορδαία της Κοζάνης.

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Titos Patrikios-Selected Poems

Posted: 04/07/2021 by vequinox in Literature

TITOS PATRIKIOS, Selected Poems

ΣΥΛΛΑΒΕΣ

Κι ό,τι απόμεινε απ’ το πέρασμα σου

σιγά σιγά ο χρόνος το λειαίνει

σαν ένα βότσαλο της ποταμιάς.

Μονάχα πια για τ’ όνομα σου είμαι σίγουρος.

Κι όλο το λέω, το ξαναλέω προς στη θάλασσα

μήπως κάποια νύχτα,

όταν μας πνίγουνε τα σύρματα κι οι πέτρα,

το χρειαστώ σα λέξη σωτηρίας

κι ανακαλύψω αιφνίδια πως κι αυτό έχει σβήσει.

SYLLABLES

And what has remained of your passing

slowly smoothed by time

like a pebble in the river.

I’m only certain of your name now.

And I always repeat it in front of the sea

that perhaps one night,

when the barbwire and stones choke us,

I might use it as a word of salvation

and suddenly I discover

that even that has vanished.

EXILE DIARIES

3 Νοεμβρίου 1948

Ο Πανούσης φοράει μια μακριά χλαίνη.

Του τη χάρισε κάποιος φαντάρος.

Τη βάψαν μαύρη στο καζάνι του χωριού του.

Τώρα είναι πράσινη — μήτε και πράσινη.

Μέσα στις τσέπες του έχει

πέντε κουκκιά καλαμπόκι και δυο φύλλα καπνό

μαζί και το βλέμμα της αγελάδας του. Ο Πανούσης

τυλίγεται σε μια χοντρή βελέντζα. Η βελέντζα

είναι κόκκινη κι άσπρη. Κι ο ύπνος του Πανούση

έχει το χρώμα της βελέντζας. Πάντα του κοιμάται

με την τραγιάσκα, τα παπούτσια και το παντελόνι.

Άν είχε βγάλει τ’ άρβυλα του, σίγουρα κει μέσα

ένα πουλί θα γεννούσε τ’ αυγά του

κι ύστερα πια ο Πανούσης δεν θάχε πού να χώσει τα πόδια του.

Ο ύπνος του κάθε μεσημέρι

είναι σαν τον ίσκιο της βελανιδιάς μες στο νερό.

Τώρα πρέπει να οικονομήσει

άλλα πέντε κουκιά καλαμπόκι για τι παιχνίδι της εννιάρας

ώσπου να μεγαλώσει πάλι το μουστάκι του και να γυρίσει στο χωριό του.

3rd of November

Panoussis is wearing a long greatcoat

that a soldier gave him.

They dyed it black in the village cauldron;

It’s green now, not even green.

He always keeps in his pocket

five kernels of corn and two tobacco leaves

along with the glance of his cow. Panoussis wraps

himself in the thick, woolen, red and white blanket;

his sleep has the color of the woolen blanket.

He always sleeps with his hat on, shoes and pants;

should he had taken off his boots, a bird could surely

had laid its eggs in them and then Panoussis wouldn’t

have where to put his feet.

His daily afternoon siesta resembles

the shade of the huge oak tree in the water.

Now he must find five more

corn kernels for the card game until his moustache

will grow long again and he’ll return to his village.