Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems

 
 
ΟΙΚΟΓΕΝΕΙΑΚΗ ΘΑΛΠΩΡΗ
 
     Ένα βράδυ πήρα απ’ το τραπέζι τα δυο μισοτελειωμένα φορέμα-
τα και τ’ ακούμπησα στον καναπέ, η γυναίκα μου ήταν μια φτωχή
μοδίστρα, το πρωί “γιατί” μου λέει, “έκανες αυτήν την ακαταστα-
σία;” “Λάθος” της λέω “ίσα ίσα που συμμάζεψα λίγο το σπίτι”
“αλλά γιατί;” “μα θα ερχόταν κόσμος” της λέω “ποιος κόσμος;”
μου λέει με παράπονο — αφού δεν έρχεται ποτέ κανείς” “φτωχή
μου κοπέλλα είσαι τρελλή;” της λέω “κάθε βράδυ έρχεται πολύς
κόσμος” “εδώ σ’ εμάς;” έκανε και τα μάτια της έλαμψαν.
      Από τότε άρχισε να μιλάει μόνη της τα βράδια, ώσπου τη βά-
λαμε στο άσυλο. Εγώ πήγα στης μητέρας μου, δε θυμάμαι πού —
γριά γυναίκα ήταν βλέπεις
     κι είχε πεθάνει.
 
 
 
FAMILY WARMTH
 
    One night I took two unfinished dresses from the table and
put them on the couch; my wife was a poor seamstress;
in the morning she said to me“why you created that mess?”,
“on the contrary” I said to her  “but why?” “We expect
visitors” I said “what visitors?” she said to me with a grumble
“no one ever comes” “poor girl, you are crazy” I said “every
night lots of people come” “here to visit us?” she said and
her eyes gleamed.
     Since then she started talking to herself every night until
we put her in the asylum. I went to my mother’s, I don’t
remember where; she was an old woman, you see
      and she had died.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087367R7C
 
 

Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

(Excerpt)

The afternoon sun was hiding behind light clouds as Eteo started his walk. The crowds had arrived at the Ambleside seawall as they did every fine day, and Eteo had to dodge groups of pedestrians from time to time. He saw Frankie again, but he was busy on his phone and only nodded and waved with his free hand. Eteo responded in kind, but suddenly his own phone rang and he stepped to the side of the path to answer. It was Richard calling from Calgary.

“You never called me,” Richard complained.

“Sorry, I got caught up in things.”

“Never mind, I managed. We’ll see lots of buying coming early Monday morning. Two big brokers will come in. Stay on the bid and you’ll see.”

“What happened?” Eteo needed a bit more detail than that.

“Just stay on the bid,” Richard repeated, “and let them come and take the offers. Just follow the market up.”

“I’ll keep my eyes open,” Eteo replied, not very happy to be fobbed off with generalities. Afterward he speculated about the various scenarios of how these new brokers might come into the market. Richard could have offered them incentives, which meant they would go for a quick buy and sell within days, which required being vigilant to unload some shares to them before they stopped buying. They must be junior brokers with small books. Those ones are usually hungry for business and easier to persuade with “grease.” Eteo’s thoughts ran back to his first year in the business. It had been tough, but he had been lucky to get a job as a teacher at a Greek community schools for a while before becoming a broker. He had met a lot of well-to-do Hellenes who liked to invest in the stock market and so he was able to open a hundred accounts in a matter of a few days, and these had provided a basic commission income while he built up his business. As for the brokers Richard was talking about, Eteo preferred to hold his breath and see what they might do, if anything, come Monday morning.

Earning commission income was a cutthroat scenario at the best of times. Everyone had to devise his or her own approach in order to stay sane while trying to select stocks that would perform better to recommend to clients. Eteo remembered how some promoters back in the eighties would walk around the streets of Vancouver with certs in street form, as they called them. The bearer could deposit these certs in his account in any brokerage firm in the blink of an eye and then proceed to sell shares in the marketplace. It was quite common in those days for a promoter to cut a deal with a group of brokers, or with one in particular, depending on the size of the broker’s book. Deals were done without any serious research into the assets of the company in question or what level of development they had reached. It was a game of who could con the other first. Would the broker con the promoter, or would it be the other way around? In either case the paramount thing was to have a way out before buying in.

Early in 1985, Eteo had met another stockbroker, an East Asian man who worked for Continental, a good firm in downtown Vancouver, and from him he had learned the meaning of the word “grease.” This broker was dealing with two brothers who were promoting a junior company that, like most others, owned a mining property of little importance but whose shares were sitting at the comfortable level of 60 cents, although in a very thin market, which meant that just a little volume would drive the price either up, if it was buying volume, or down to a few pennies if it was selling volume. That was what a thin market was all about: a market held artificially at a certain level. The two brothers wanted to finance the company to go and explore their moose pasture some more, and they were dealing with the broker regarding size of financing, price of issuance for the new shares, and other details pertaining to work commitment, how many drill holes they planned to drill, whether it would be diamond drilling or reverse circulation drilling, soil work, and other details. The funniest part came when they talked about how much grease they would pay the broker one of the two brothers extended his arm to Eteo’s ear and pretended to shut him from hearing what they would agree on. It was hilarious since Eteo had known from the start what they wanted to agree on, but he let the promoter do as he pleased, as if Eteo was an innocent new stockbroker who shouldn’t hear these kinds of details.

Red in Black, poetry by Manolis Aligizakis

ΦΑΚΕΣ
 
Η Φατιμά σηκώνει το στρώμα
κι αδειάζει της κάλτσας το περιεχόμενο
πάνω στο κρεβάτι: μερικά κέρματα
και δυο χαρτονομίσματα.
Πιάνει το ένα χαρτονόμισμα
χίλια δινάρια, βάζει τα υπόλοιπα
στην κάλτσα, την κρύβει στο στρώμα,
βγαίνει έξω στην κόλαση του δρόμου
διαβαίνει τα τσιμέντα που έπεσαν
απ’ του γείτονα το σπίτι
κατευθύνεται προς την αγορά
που σκέφτεται ν’ αγοράσει φακές
να τις βράσει για τα ορφανά της
 
ο μπακάλης χαμογελά που τη βλέπει
βάζει στη σακούλα της
μισό κιλό φακές ακριβώς
τότε που ξαφνικά το βουητό
ακούγεται κι η έκρηξη κάπου κοντά.
 
Τεράστιος λάκκος ανοίγεται στην αγορά
το σχέδιο της Φατιμάς άδοξα αναβάλεται
 
LENTILS SOUP
 
Fatima lifts her mattress
takes sock, empties its contents
on her bed: a few coins, two bills.
She grabs a thousand dinars bill
puts everything away
walks out of the dilapidated house
and into the outside hell
steps over pieces of cement
fallen from her neighbour’s wall
turns toward the marketplace
today she wishes to buy lentils
and make a soup for her two orphans
 
merchant smiles seeing her money
puts lentils in a bag
exactly half a kilo
 
when suddenly the buzzing sound
is heard near them.
 
A horrible explosion.
 
Huge crater middle of market
lentils soup postponed.