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POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

confession from belgrade

gloss on rilke's
ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa:
a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

imagepoem

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

good riddance to mankind

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400 revolutionary maxims

nice men and
  suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

a curious and peculiar
kind of queer

the ivory palace

helen's tower

extortion through e-bay

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

are doctors autistic ?

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

a note on the cathars

happiness

londons of the mind
& dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

the dog from sinope

shoplifting
in britain & america

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

a holy dog
& a dog-headed saint

fools for nothingness

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

prelude

 

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland & the phallic continuum

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

a small town in france

 

 


the problems of translating poetry

an albanian ikon ?

albanian donkeys

the bektashi dervishes

poems by ujko BYK

albanian love-poems

albanian poems of dissidence

albanian poems of exile

beyond the albanian experience

migjeni

horatio morpurgo's albanian trip

map of albania


the dictator's library

 

 

Shpirti i Shqiperisë

a canadian-albanian film
about the
"sworn virgins" of northern albania

 



THREE STORIES BY BLERTA ALIKAJ


http://bletebzz.wordpress.com

 

1. ROAST CHICKENS


My phone rings.

“Hey honey, where have you been hiding ? How come I can never get you ?”

That's rich! She already got me several times. I mumble something resembling an answer without it actually being one.

There is a pause. “Hey, listen - when can I come by with the suitcase ?”

“What suitcase ?” My heart sinks.

“The one for your Mom to take to Albania.”

One whole suitcase? My mind flashes to the open clothes, some still in shopping bags, some in carry-ons, some in valises, that my mother has been struggling with since the beginning of the month. She bought bags, shoes, Advil, Tylenol, Rolaids, Tums, black shoes for grandma, running shoes for brother, candies for the kiddies, suits for my aunts, underwear, hæmorrhoid cream, 99-cent perfume, etc. For all I know, she has single-handedly saved National Liquidators from Chapter 11. And my dad's clothes are going in one single piece of cabin-baggage.

I pray there are no further cousins and friends who suddenly learn about my parents' imminent departure. It is always the same story. Because you asked for a letter or some money to be delivered to the family 10 years ago, it is now your most sacred duty to deliver roast chicken, 99-cent shoes and shampoo, aspirin, colored pencils, and every single horrendous porcelain doll and Rogaine sample that can be found at such short notice.

I had a friend who once agreed to take a package to Albania, and put it in her luggage without checking what it was. She always packed the day before, so the luggage was packed and locked for three days. She got stopped at customs, because her luggage smelled funny. When they opened it and unwrapped the package she had to deliver, they found a putrefying roasted chicken. Needless to say, now she only travels with her toothbrush, one solitary pair of clean underwear, passport and money. And when she calls to say goodbye, it's from the departure-lounge at the airport.

My dream is that one day I will have only one small carry-on with my clothes, one small suitcase with shoes - and that there will be no one for me to call when I get there, no-one to waste my vacation time waiting in cafés to hand over trash-treasures from America.

I always start so well. I say I will take nothing of anybody's. Then I relent and accept money and letters. By the time my luggage is ready for packing, I am so overwhelmed by cheap viscose sweaters, plastic-smelling shoes and kitchen utensils that I want to kill myself. And when I come back from Albania, it's a wonder I have never been detained for all the amount of trahana (which is like polenta), mountain tea (which tastes a bit like sage), raki (distilled from grape-must or plums), special sheep's cheese, olive oil, olives, my grandma's lemons, bakllava and Turkish Delight that I bring through customs. It must be my face I guess.

When I call my mother, she starts crying. What on earth to do ?

I too break down and call for sympathy to my Haïtian friend, who tells me the story of her cousin going home to Haiti. Someone called and begged to meet her at the airport with a very insignificant package for his family. She felt generous and said OK. Sure enough, there was a guy with a real-life SUV tyre for her to take on the plane.
So it is not only Albanians...


 

2. THE BORROWER

This was one of my grandfather's favourite stories.

Once there was a poor man in a village who had no money for his daughter's wedding. Where to find the money ? Borrow it of course.

Remember, there were no banks and credit cards then. So he went and he asked his rich neighbour:

“Efendi, (this is a courtesy title dating from Ottoman times) I desperately need money for my daughter's wedding. Would you lend me some?”

“Of course,” the rich nice man answered (he's already taken, ladies - back off!) “What are neighbours for? Here are the keys to the safe. Go, open it, and take as much money as you need and bring it back when you can. This will be your safe from now on.”

The poor man, not believing his ears, went to the safe, got as much money as he needed, (and a bit extra because you know florists), closed the safe and returned the keys to the owner.

The wedding was a grand affair, and it was talked about in the village for months afterwards. So much, that all the villagers expected another wonderful party when it was the turn of the second daughter. What could the poor man do but go back to his rich and good-hearted neighbour ?

“Efendi, my generous benefactor, I know I still owe you money, but my second daughter's wedding is coming up, and I have to surpass the first one - and I have no money! Would you help me out another time too ?”

“Of course!” The rich man answered. “Here, take the keys and go to the safe. You know where it is.”

Because the second wedding was going to be the mother of all weddings, with castle walls built out of roast lamb on spits, and moats filled with raki, the man took all the gold he found in the safe this time. The wedding was so amazingly, legendarily good, that everybody had a hangover for a month after, and they were very happy that cameras had not yet been invented.

A year passed, and (you know it's coming) it was the son's turn to have a wedding. How could the poor man give his only son and heir less off a wedding that he had given his daughters? So on he went to the benefactor again.

“Efendi, this is the last time, I promise. I have no more kids to marry off, my daughter in law is very industrious, and if you give me money this time too, we will definitely repay you by the end of the year.”

The rich man gave the keys to his neighbor without the slightest hesitation. The poor man run to the safe and opened it only to find it empty! There was no money in it. He searched behind another cushion, to see that maybe he had confused safes, but there was nothing. He went back to the rich man.

“Efendi, there was NO GOLD in the safe!”

“How can that be ?” The rich man said “Did you check properly ?”

“Yes, of course!” The poor man answered. “I swear to you there is no money there. What could have possibly happened ?”

“Well, pardon me my friend, but did you put any money back after you borrowed it ?”

“No, Efendi, I did not.”

“Then how do you expect to find money there now ?

So the poor man went home and they had yogurt and corn-bread for the son's wedding, and his mother sang after drinking the dregs of the plum raki. When the bride heard her future mother's in-law singing, she turned her horse round and ran off to join a circus.

As I said, this was one of my grandfather's favourite stories, and one he used to make sure I paid back all my 5-lek (10-cent) debts from my friends, or (better still) that I borrowed as little as possible. Unfortunately, since that time, my credit-cards have proved to be extremely generous rich neighbours.

So we must remember to replenish what has been freely given, because it is not infinite, contrary to what we thought before capitalism outspent itself.

 

 

3. FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD


hey sweetie!  he says

hey yourself !  i say

how are you ?

i'm fine, how 'bout you ?

doing ok. parents all well ?

ehh, the usual, thank God. and your family ?

doing good. we were together saturday.

glad to hear it.

his breath deepens and his voice goes two dramatic octaves lower.

so, what are you wearing ? anything pretty ?

just a t-shirt and sweat-pants -chilling out at home - you know.

(he knows. he is also disappointed yet again - though still hopeful that my evening-wear might change.)

what have you got on ?

well i got this gorgeous lace teddy, you should see how good i look in it...


(I guess he doesn't look quite like this catalogue-photo!)


nice!
(I say) you are all ready for your honey, i guess.

yeah, got my nails done, shaved my legs, put on my make-up. thanks for the lip-gloss by the way. he almost eats my lips when i put it on.

i smile for this is what my friend does night after night. he comes home from work, removes his manly clothes, takes a long shower, shaves his legs, lotions his body and puts on the most incredible and gorgeous lingerie for his lover.

pimped by his sister when he was 12 or 13, he is still looking for a 'suitable bride', for he has to produce a grandson for his father. a 'suitable bride' is one who would not mind him sleeping with other men, and would fuck him with a strap-on once in a while. she could be a 'loose' woman who wanted to turn 'respectable', or one looking for a green card.

sometimes he calls me to confirm who the better girl is. of course it is him hands-down. i am always in my sweatpants, he is always in his silk panties and short catholic schoolgirl skirts.

he tells me of the new dresses he buys, the cuts that favor his 'bust', his dream to go shooting pool in those miniscule minis the girls sport on tv, with the love of his life by his side. the love of his life is also albanian and married, who only 'does' him for money.

he rarely mentions his current boyfriend, a fiery Mexican, who is very possessive and apparently madly in love with him. he is still thinking of the other one when he puts on the make-up and curls his eyelashes.

his one hang-up is that he can not tweeze his eyebrows because his co-workers will finally have their suspicions confirmed.

so here we are, having this surreal conversation about the difficulties of finding a size 14 dress that fits (we share size but not shape), dishing about men real and imaginary. i am trying to understand how come he is a better woman than me, and he is trying to understand why men seem to flock to me but shy away from him.

that's how it is on two sides of the world.


 

AND A POEM
also written originally in English

My father taught me
To stand up and face the music
My mother taught me
To extend my neck and smile gracefully
So I kneel in front of you
Blood spurts from my severed neck
Delight all round
It does not feel good
But it's who I am

TRY A PAGE AT RANDOM


"ΑΠΟΘΑΝΕΙΝ ΘΕΛΩ" - The Cumæan Sybil

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