Windermere: Love at Second Sight

Every time she opened the gate of his derelict property, Yvonne would find Mr Pantazopoulos on all fours, manually weeding his impeccable lawn. It was a Sissyphian exercise, because, as Mr Pantazopoulos never failed to explain, the summer northerlies scattered unwanted seeds of Juncus buffonicus and Agropyrum repens, which embedded themselves in Mr Pantazopolous’s rich soil, germinated and sprouted in all directions, like an insidious, undefeatable army, making a mockery of Mr Pantazopoulos’ incessant effort and taking perverse pleasure in polluting his deep green, virginal-and-sensual English lawn.

His English lawn! It - or rather she - was his minor masterpiece, his lifetime labour of love. Their bond was indestructible. It had outlasted his relationship with women - mother, wife, mistresses, daughter. While the bodies of his wife and mother had long decomposed in the arid Australian clay, the body of his lawn still called him daily with seductive whispers and non-negotiable orders, with countless whims and needs that he tendered to from dawn to dusk, like a humble lord and servant.

He had attached, by means of a self-made harness of sorts, a monocular to his left eye, his only able eye, which had about thirty percent vision. The kind of monocular you might encounter in Hollywood films noirs, on the wrinkled faces of pawnbrokers, forensic investigators or philatelic experts.

As he slowly moved about the vast expanse of his lawn, on all fours, his monoculared eye scrutinising every square centimetre of that sacred body, his claw like fingers plucking every evidence of alien intrusion - lover and warrior, gynaecologist and dog, master artisan and slave - he never ceased to amaze Yvonne. She had never witnessed anything as meticulously hopeless, as remarkably purposeless, in her entire life.

Almost as purposeless as Art!, she mused every time she opened the gate and caught the first glimpse of Mr Pantazopoulos tendering to his lawn. Over and above the triggering of comic-erotic speculations, it was this spectacular purposelessness that intrigued Yvonne and made her come back every afternoon, and put up with Mr Pantazopoulos’ unpleasant persona and sulphurous moods.



Dacian feels an electric current throughout his body. Baga-mi-as. His first baga-mi-as on terra ferma.

Now, we must, for a few seconds, leave Dacian in this state of contradictory bewilderment and delve into the realm of language and ethnicity. I'm not going to bore you with all that spiel about how a single word can define the spirit of a nation - suffice to say that for Dacian, as well as for millions of his compatriots roaming the globe, this magic combination of words, this mantra, will always stir exactly the same feeling: one of recognition and belonging.

Literally, the words mean: "Stick my...!’ - referring, of course, to a certain, unmistakable, organ of the male anatomy. Semantically, this is a swearing: short for ‘Stick my prick into this (fact, situation, person or object)’.

Philosophically however, there are endless possibilities for speculation, regarding this act of cosmic fecundation. Some might interpret it as a gigantic act of defiance directed to a generally adverse, inhospitable, indifferent universe. Others might, on the contrary, marvel at this act of generosity: the Romanian male offers to fecundate anything or anybody, in order for he/she/ it to improve their lot. In any case, the Romanian-ness of the expression is unquestionable, and anyone born or raised in that part of the world becomes an involuntary member of the ubiquitous baga-mi-as fraternity.

They had no idea, at the time, that Mitica was in the last stage of pancreatic cancer. Nor did Mitica, for that matter. They found him dead, one morning in August, and for a moment Mother Bena panicked, cursing The Rat and his complications. Auntie Stela kept her cool, consulted the planets, and came with the only solution that made sense: bury him in the pets' cemetery, that he himself had built. They waited until dark, then Auntie Stela dug a deep hole, her energy was boundless, the earth was nice, soft and moist, by dawn Mitica was sleeping safely, under two meters of Australian soil. She made a little cross, out of two wooden sticks, and on it she wrote a parrot's name, and no one found out a thing.

Yet another secret that Mother Bena and Auntie Stela shared, for eternity.

Later on, when Auntie Stela met The Rat at Father Pricop's Church, on St Mary's Day, and The Rat asked about Mitica, she shrugged her shoulders and said he'd left for Argentina six weeks before. The Rat gave out a faint sigh: another bastard that I've helped out, who doesn't even bother to buy me a good-bye drink.

Letters to Monalisa

a novel

Morning had broken, as if the sentence that was the town had turned into the
first verse of a Cat Stevens song. The narrow streets surrounding St Jacob's
Cathedral smelled of pickled herrings, hot bread and warm pigeon shit. The
angels of the night were replaced by mothers, toddlers, nurses, solicitors,
dentists, kindergarten teachers, funeral directors, real estate agents and
pensioners with very neat trench coats.

So Matei went looking for angels - without, of course, being aware that he
was looking for anything - beyond the thick, thousand year wall, beyond the
grey industrial belt, beyond the snow-capped greenery of the surrounding

He found the angels he didn't know he'd been looking for, watching him in
silence from beneath the wild ivy which had insinuated itself in between
and around, and probably underneath, the cold marble of the graves. He
read: Gerhart Denke, Facharzt für Urologie, 1909-1978... Herbert Neumann,Theologe, 1903-1977...Gabriele Henning-Schade Rechtsanwältin, 1925-

The sentence that was the town was mirrored into the sentence that was
the graveyard, with the same rhythmic succession of orthopaedic surgeons,
accountants, solicitors, dentists, kindergarten teachers, theologians, real
estate agents and funeral directors. No signs of such a thing as History - no
signs of upheavals, of conflagrations, of Berlin Walls or Marshall Plans - just
wild ivy, marble angels and rhythmic waves of respectability.

A Remarkable Skull

I became mesmerised by the way she was gliding her blunt, crooked forefinger across the aristocratic grandeur of the frontal bone, lingering for a long moment around the remarkable bulges of the frontal eminences, sliding gently along the majestic superciliary ridges, then making its way across the mighty parietal eminences, softly palpating the Lambdoid Suture, tickling the occipital crests, protuberances and tubercles, resting inside the mysterious sanctum of the Foramen Magnum, then proceeding, past the temporal ridges, depressions, fissures and fossae, and across the slender zygomatic arch, straight into the adventurous surfaces of the norma frontalis, penetrating the smooth, seven-boned cavities of the orbits, descending boldly along the concealed, turbinated mysteries of the nasal fossae, into the supremely synchronised symphony of the maxillaries, then inserting itself between incisors, canines, and bicuspids, and inviting me to co-palpate the palate... I remember how she then swiftly turned the skull upside down, to reveal the sphenoid bone which bound that magnificent construction, locking it in for eternity in its tight embrace. The enigmatic sphenoid itself, like an enormous, ossified bat, with regal, angelic wings.

'The lesson had been nothing but one all-embracing, expertly applied caress. My adolescent blood was beginning to stir.

Csardas Lullaby

I couldn't stop thinking, 'What if Reghina's whistle penetrates through the thick walls of the Forensic Institute down the road?... What if the old hearts, floating gently in their formol-drenched slumber, start beating again, infecting the sound waves, threatening the darkness with their pulsating iridescence, insinuating their vitality into their sister-organs, causing chopped fingers to tap-dance, fat livers to shiver, lonely eyes to gaze deeply into each other, black lips to murmur some forgotten, dangerously poetic song?'

I knew I was on the verge of some forbidden revelation, my feet were cold with enchanted terror, I wanted to move, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry... but, like a pre-programmed puppet, all I could do - all I did do - was to open my mouth and to allow the csardas torrent that had insidiously built up inside my lungs to burst out, through the fluid orchestration of my incredibly astute trachea, through the lyrical softness of my pharynx, clashing mightily against the firmness of my palate, and finally flowing free between my melodic molars, between the dry caresses of my astounded lips, into the glow of the resonating darkness.

Not in the least surprised by my sudden musicality, Reghina grabbed me by the waist, mirroring my song, and by then the combined power of our csardas had no trouble in guiding my clumsy feet, getting them to perform every step of the dance with aerial perfection.


I sometimes experience very accurate recollections from the time we were both floating in the womb of that remote person, the twenty year old Hungarian black-eyed beauty who buried herself in the hills of Moldavia to be loved by our father, the visionary. And who never inspired any Liszt, just some second rate, provincial composer who composed that dubious, ill-fated Moldavian Ballad Penny kept playing on her harmonica.

I can see myself in that remote womb, floating painlessly - the only painless time I could ever recollect. I can see my eyes, enormous and lidless, trained at staring in the dark... I can see them staring at my sister Penny, that other me, those other eyes, equally giant, equally lidless, but restless and fiery... And that liquid silence between us, and inside us... that liquid abyss! I was staring and glaring, questioning the waters, questioning her eyes. She, on the other hand, was busy growing, moving, breaking free from that watery prison. She closed her eyes, as soon as she grew eyelids, she pounded against the uterine walls as soon as she grew strength. She emerged into the world prematurely, leaving me behind, I who never wanted to leave. They had to extract me with forceps to the horror of the Hungarian beauty who was roaring and cursing, in unintelligible idioms. To Penny, our birth was the beginning. To me, it was the end.

La Primavera

I travelled along the Esplanade, past the Empire State Building and towards the Luna Park. I crossed the Kathmandu Valley, into the narrow streets of the Barri Gotic. Then I paused for a few seconds above the Botanical Gardens, listening to a drunken kookaburra laughing in the night. Through an open window, in Mala Strana, I saw a little boy laughing at the kookaburra's laughter. I followed the placid bats in their flight above the Government House, and through a bedroom window, I saw the Governor of Victoria and his wife snoring serenely in their double bed. I then travelled further, crossing a few fields of black tulips, where Swiss cows were grazing in the discreet light of the blimp. I flew over an Atlantic or two, and I found myself in Werribee Zoo. My blimp nearly got caught between the ivory dreams of the slumbering rhinoceroses, so I crossed the Andromedan constellation, and headed back to the South bank of the Yarra River. I then followed a Burmese prince as he was chasing white elephants along the pedestrian stretch of Bourke Street. I flew over Parliament House, and saw mighty, juicy visions of restructuring and effectiveness spilling out into Treasury Place. I crossed Spring Street and the heights of Machhapuchhare, and watched the possums rummaging the bins for white collar suppers and blue collar dreams.

We flew like this, my blimp and I, closely yet remotely, fast yet slowly . So as to see, and to remember, yet to never get involved.

Website Design by Dana Beligan