Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

 (Excerpt)

By now he had reached the dock at the end of the seawall and he stood against the railing letting his gaze encompass English Bay under the faint sunshine, filtered by clouds which made this September afternoon seem like a delightfully warm yet mysterious event. Mysterious because it seemed like the sun’s game with the world, a game of hiding behind light clouds and seeking people’s glances, visible to the naked eye, not forbidden due to its blinding rays; mysterious because of the flowers’ acceptance of the filtered sunshine that warmed up their petals but didn’t scorch them to dryness and death; mysterious like the con game of unscrupulous promoters of stock who would go to any effort to convince people to buy into their ridiculous fantasies, their best deals of the year, or the century for that matter, the stock that would “go to the moon” and all the other slogans Eteo had heard so many times over the years.

As a relief from these thoughts, images of childhood once again came to Eteo, as they always seemed to do when he gazed at the calm waters of English Bay that spread from West Vancouver all the way to Kitsilano and the University Endowment Lands on the other side of the bay.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” a voice behind him asked.

Eteo turned to face a woman he saw at the seawall almost daily but had never spoken to. He smiled at the attractive woman with the dark complexion and big brown eyes.

“Yes, it is,” Eteo replied. “Each time I look over at the other side of the bay, I have the same reaction, I’m glad to see you again” he added. “I see you here often.”

“You too,” she said, gracing him with her angelic smile.

“Do you live around here?” Eteo asked.

“Yes, on Bellevue, close to Ambleside.”

“We’ve been seeing each other here for a long time,” Eteo said. Her accent sounded Iranian, he thought.

“Yes, indeed and where do you live?”

“I’m in North Vancouver, east of Lonsdale toward 29th. Do you know the area?”

“Yes, is that Lynn Valley?”

“Almost, but the neighbourhood is called Tempe Heights.”

“I know where that is. I have a relative who lives in Tempe Heights.”

“I see. That’s a coincidence. Your accent sounds …” He hesitated, thinking this might seem too personal.

“Iranian?” the woman finished his sentence, smiling. Eteo’s guess has been correct.  He knew there was a large Iranian Community on the North Shore.

“And you?” the woman asked, still smiling.

“I’m Cretan.”

“Ah, very nice, the cultural center of the Mediterranean.”

“Yes, of course,” Eteo responded. “Perhaps we could share a coffee sometime…”

“Yes, I would love to.”

“Your name?” Eteo asked.

“Ariana. And yours?”

“Eteo, short for Eteocles.”

“Pleased to have met you, Eteo,” she said and offered her hand which Eteo took, holding it for a few seconds longer than normal, which Ariana clearly noticed. She smiled at him again.

“I hope to see you here again soon” he said, indicating that it was time for him to start walking back.

 “I hope the same. But why don’t we walk back together. It’s time for me to return too” she added.

As they walked back toward Ambleside next to each other, they continued to chat and enjoy the sights. Eteo liked her pleasant manners and way of talking, and her laughing eyes each time he turned and looked at her. The image of the bay was as joyous as they were too, with the calm waters reflecting the receding daylight and the dozen or so commercial ships waiting at anchor and the seagulls that flew in every direction or dove to feast on crabs and sea stars.

Soon they reached Bellevue Avenue, where Ariana turned to cross the street to her apartment block. She said goodbye and shook Eteo’s hand, then added, “I hope to meet you again soon, Eteo, and yes I’d love to share a coffee with you.”

“Yes, coffee together the next time we meet, I promise,” Eteo assured her with a smile.

Fifteen minutes later he was back home. Alex arrived soon after and told him he would be going camping on the weekend with school friends, which made Eteo wonder whether it would be good to take them out tonight and introduce them to Susan and her daughter.  He dialed her number.

“Hello sweetie, want to go out tonight instead of tomorrow? My younger one has a camping trip organized for the weekend and he won’t be available tomorrow or Sunday. What do you think?”

“I don’t know, hon, let me talk to Monica and get back to you.”

“Okay, and I’ll check with the other guys in the meantime.” They agreed to touch base later in the afternoon. Eteo now had some time to himself. He sat on his armchair, pulled the lever all the way up, and closed his eyes. His mind travelled to the far-away land where he had first seen the sun, his Cretan sun.  

Στρατής Πασχάλης, Ηellas!

To Koskino

Vesna Krasnec, The City

Στη μνήμη του Αλέξη Γρηγορόπουλου

Κάτω από σχάρες υπονόμων

υπάρχει μια Ελλάδα. Δεν την ξέρει κανείς.
Μουγκό χωριό καταχωνιασμένο

με κλειδωμένα σπίτια

γεμάτα πανσέληνο και μαρασμό.

Τα σύννεφα περνούν ιπτάμενα βαμβακερά παπλώματα
κατάστικτα από λεκέδες κοράκων.

Τα δέντρα κι οι θάμνοι πράσινο σαρκοβόρο.

Οι πέτρες καρκινώματα.

Η θάλασσα δεν είναι από λουλάκι.

Παχύρρευστη μπογιά βρώμικη σαπουνάδα.
Άνθρωπος πουθενά.

Μόνο τρικλίσματα μεθυσμένων σκιών
μπανιέρες ανάποδες με σβησμένα καντήλια
και ρόδα πλαστικά

οθόνες τηλεόρασης να παίζουν μόνες
αναμεταδίδοντας παραλειπόμενα

για τους έρωτες των Θεών.
Η Ελλάδα δεν πεθαίνει ποτέ.

Ακόμα χειρότερη σαν ανοίξει ο καιρός.

Ξεπροβάλλουν πρησμένες Αναδυόμενες.

Ανθίζουν χρώματα φαρμακερά.

Νυχτέρια ποντικών που δεν αντέχουν τον καύσωνα

κι ακροβατούν στα κόκαλα της κληματαριάς.

Ο ήλιος πύρινος Νέρωνας.

Η μέρα σκουριασμένη μυρίζει αποσμητικό.

Στις καμπίνες της αργοσβήνουν τρυπημένα κορμιά εφήβων.
Στις αντένες της ανεμίζουν ανόητες σημαιούλες.

Στην κουπαστή μωρά παιδιά παίζουνε τους φονιάδες
βωμολοχώντας. Το πέλαγος φωτίζεται και…

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Ο ποιητής Σωτήρης Σκίπης

ΕΛΛΑΣ

Ποιητής, θεατρικός συγγραφέας, μεταφραστής, ακαδημαϊκός και εκδότης. Ο Σωτήρης Σκίπης γεννήθηκε το 1881 στην Πλάκα της Αθήνας. Τα παιδικά του χρόνια τα έζησε στη Λάρισα, όπου υπηρετούσε ο πατέρας του, Ευάγγελος Σκίπης, σαν στρατιωτικός. Το 1897 εγκαταστάθηκε στην Αθήνα και τρία χρόνια αργότερα εξέδωσε την πρώτη του ποιητική συλλογή με τίτλο Τραγούδια της ορφανής. Ο Σκίπης, 20 μόλις χρονών γίνεται γνωστός στους φιλολογικούς κύκλους για την ευφυΐα του. Μετά τις εγκύκλιες σπουδές του ταξίδεψε σε διάφορες χώρες (Αίγυπτο, Κωνσταντινούπολη, Ρωσία) ενώ στο Παρίσι, όπου σπούδασε, παρακολούθησε μαθήματα αισθητικής και λογοτεχνίας και συνδέθηκε φιλικά με τον Jean Moreas, τον Paul Fort και τον Fr. Mistral.

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